The Inside Story
Outside, it's a classic farmhouse—but the interior of this residence in Bridgehampton, New York, is an industrial experiment by Guillermo Gomez Architect
Craig Kellogg -- Interior Design, 7/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
Set on a quiet lane near the beach in Bridgehampton, New York, this textbook farmhouse had deep porches, shingle siding, and rustic beams. Only a proper barn was missing—or so it seemed at first. The owners, a Brazilian-born banker and his family, soon discovered that their newly built house had flaws usually associated with older structures: poorly placed columns, small windows, and a low, dark living room.
Originally hired to do just a little fine-tuning, Guillermo Gomez Architect moved windows, added nonstructural exposed ceiling beams, and brought in simple, classic furniture. "We deformalized the house," principal Guillermo Gomez explains in his suave Argentine accent. One seating group, for example, became the playful "caipirinha" room with the addition of citrus yellow-green throw pillows and rattan light fixtures.
Other problems called for more than a cosmetic fix. "The kids were growing and needed an indoor 'tree house,'" says principal Valeria Pollak, Gomez's wife. And the guesthouse was across the lawn, a long hike for visiting grandparents. Since you can never have enough guest rooms in the Hamptons, the architects proposed a two-story extension. As it evolved to include a great room, a breakfast room, and a one-car garage as well as guest quarters, the addition grew to 1,800 square feet—almost half the size of the existing house. To give the extension a back story, Gomez says he and Pollak imagined a "1950's barn converted into a boathouse." The concept, he continues, combines the warmth of exposed wood framing with an edgy industrial quality.
On the ground level, a poplar-framed glass door connects the kitchen, in the existing house, to the great room, in the extension. Gomez and Pollak used small-paned windows and French doors to unify the spaces. That accomplished, the architects gave the new wing a distinctive look. Most of the flooring is industrial-issue concrete with radiant heating underneath. The wet bar's counter is also concrete, a massive construction that "could have been the top of a mechanic's workbench," Gomez says. To illuminate the wet bar, he and Pollak hung six swagged aluminum pendant fixtures from long power cords. On the opposite side of the great room, shelving is rough framing lumber. In the powder room under the stairs, a hardware-store galvanized-steel bucket serves as a vessel sink.
As a backdrop to the industrial imagery, the architects strenuously avoided gypsum board everywhere but the breakfast room and garage. Instead, walls are sheathed in knotty-cedar horizontal shiplap and vertical two-by-fours. Except for the latter, Gomez argues, the treatment was cost-effective, because it meant not taping joints or using more than one coat of paint: After applying bleach to prevent pinkness from the raw wood from bleeding through, the crew used a quick wash of thinned white oil paint to lock in a pale wood tone.
Above the concrete lintel of the white-painted brick fireplace surround, a niche frames a flat-screen TV—positioned to face one side of the clever back-to-back double sofa. Gomez estimates that the piece would have cost $15,000 if a carpenter hadn't framed it for just $1,500. Cotton twill upholstery added $2,500 to the price tag.
While the great room is Pollak's "tree house" for the children, the loft directly above is more for adults. Half of the 1,800-square-foot space is a guest room and bath; a gym occupies most of the rest. Topping the gym is a cupola, its motorized windows operated by the same remote that controls the audio system. For additional brightness, the architects installed indirect strip lighting on the rafter ties.
To link the loft gym to the master suite, upstairs in the existing house, the architects designed a galvanized-steel catwalk with nautical rope-wrapped railings and string-art balustrades. "It's for occasional use," Gomez says. In a bit of an inside joke, he and Pollak decided at the last minute to thread only half of the catwalk's custom-drilled holes. The extra ones, he says, give the impression that the design was "put together from standard materials." Even though it really wasn't. Like the bespoke fantasy of the Hamptons themselves, the story is as much mood as history.