We asked three architects about the process of designing their own East End house.
Here’s what they had to say.
We bought this house three summers ago, and our first approach to renovating it was very do-it-yourself. We tore out carpet, closets, and pretty much everything that was in disrepair. We camped out in the living room and friends came over to help. We proceeded under the illusion that maybe there was a low-budget way to restyle the house, so we painted the plywood floors that were under the carpet, painted all the doors and surfaces, and so on. This got us through the first nine months before it became clear that we would have to do more. A lot more.
We were blinded by the beautiful East End light for a while before we gave in to the fact that this was a real project which needed a new cedar roof, HVAC, plumbing, kitchen, and bathrooms — along with the architectural planning and contractors to make that happen. The quality of the space today is defined by the simplicity of the geometries, but with a richness of materials (full slabs of stone, white oak laid in a chevron, frameless eight-foot solid-core doors) and our collection of highbrow/lowbrow furniture like a couch table of my own design made of marble on oriented strand board, which is similar to particle board. Now, after a glass of rosé at the kitchen island, it's on to the next phase: the landscaping.
Dean of the Yale School of Architecture
Deborah Berke Partners
Unless you live alone, you’re never really your own client. My husband and daughter were on the other side of the table, so they were the clients, in a sense. For me, designing my own house in East Hampton wasn’t that different from designing a house for someone else. I listen and figure out how a family lives and how they want to live. For us that meant a lot of places to be indoors and outdoors, within a relatively modestly sized, modern house. We wanted to be able to entertain at different scales, from a small dinner to a large gathering of family members from across the country.
My wife, my daughter, and I pooled our ideas and wishes to create a narrative that guides the experience of being in the house. We opened all the common areas to one-another while using subtle architectural gestures to differentiate them. This allowed us to create varying scales and levels of intimacy. The family room feels cozy, even though it is adjacent to the living room, which is open and airy. These spaces flow seamlessly from the front door to the exterior deck, resulting in a laid-back blurring of boundaries.