A GREEN HOME NESTLED INTO THE LANDSCAPE OFFERS MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE
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ON A VERDANT 10-ACRE PLOT NEAR NORTHWEST HARBOR IN EAST HAMPTON, pine and cedar trees punctuate a terrain that lived its first life as a peach orchard. The landscape is an apt setting for a 'green' home With plenty of cool tricks, handsome materials and a whole lot of destinations worth visiting.
The owners, a city-dwelling couple with two young children, were sold on an East Hampton setting—they had vacationed here for years—but they hadn't the faintest notion of how to design their summer home. "We didn't want to build a shingle-style, post-modern house," explains the husband. "And we were a bit nervous about doing something modern because we thought that meant a big, soaring white box."
Paul Masi and his team at Sag Harbor-based firm Bates + Masi Architects offered a sweet antidote to all that uncertainty: the promise of a surprise. "We really weren't sure what we were going to get, but we knew it would be something different," the husband says.
The stipulations facing Masi were few. The husband, a passionate cook, requested a spacious, open kitchen and dining room. The U.K.-born wife expected to host her England-based family for extended visits. She needed four guest bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, all removed from the master suite. And because she doesn't drive, she sought destinations of interest within a single "campus." "The plan sprawls across the landscape—there are areas around the spa, the pool, the pool pavilion," explains Masi. "Each nestles into a different setting. You can walk around the site from place to place."
Free reign was given to the overall design, as well as the interior and exterior specifics. What resulted was a 7,000-square-foot home featuring a geothermal heating-and-cooling system. Crafty green details include organic finishes made from vegetable oils, triple-pane glazing on doors and windows, and five ceiling lightwells. To reduce shipping expenditures, Masi used native materials such as limestone throughout, culling them from the same source.
Cedar planking inside and out offers a grounding element, but remarkably few things actually stay still. Hidden drawers pull out, cutting boards slide along a kitchen island and garment racks pop up from dressing room benches. Rooms respond—and are in peak form—when they're lit by the sun. A copper roof has already begun to patina, removable steel cylinders set into a trough in the dining room table may act as candle-holder or vase, interchangeably, and a coffee table slides open to store magazines and gadgets. Motion is one of the central design themes.
"Furniture has multiple roles. We tried to look at the mundane things and figure out how to change them into memorable moments," explains Masi. "A lot of times the finished project is almost like theater—the house starts to establish its own identity and character. It grows and changes and evolves."