All In The Family pix
How do you keep two dozen children and grandchildren happy? Laura Bohn figured it out at an urban beach cottage in Queens, New York
Aric Chen -- Interior Design, 7/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
When Laura Bohn Design Associates renovated a beach house in the Rockaways, part of Queens, New York, collaborator Donald Billinkoff Architects built a stair tower with a clerestory window that looks into the basement recreation room. The cotton-covered bench cushions are intended to sleep some of the 20-plus family members who visit the house.
In the new foyer, with its slate floor tile and bead-board walls, an oil on canvas by Jessica Falstein is propped on an oak credenza by Antonio Citterio.
In the living room, a rubbed-oak table sits on a custom sisal rug. A Falstein oil on canvas hangs above a Christian Liaigre sofa, upholstered in cotton damask; Liaigre also designed the cotton-covered love seat.
In the dining room, oak chairs and a custom 14-foot-long teak table rest on a custom Tibetan wool rug. Kevin Reilly designed the blackened-steel chandelier with electrified resin-composite candles. The oil on canvas is by Mark Saltz.
Maple flooring unifies the dining and living rooms.
Charles and Ray Eames designed the rocker in the attic dormitory, where polyester-covered beanbags, built-in benches, and rolling beds sleep eight or more children. The bedcovers and pillow shams are cotton. Between the beds hangs an oil on canvas by Saltz.
The runner is wool.
In the kids' attic bathroom, a polypropylene bench by Bruno Rainaldi sits opposite a custom vanity topped in Corian.
In the master bedroom, a George Nelson bench stands at the foot of the bed, and a wicker chair sits by the wood-burning fireplace. The mantel displays a photograph by Tim Bell and a Saltz oil on canvas.
In the rec room, Didier Gomez's sectional, covered in faux suede, faces B. Fattorini's anodized-aluminum credenza. Frank Gehry designed the polymer-and-resin table.
Leaning against the outdoor shower, an inner tube is poised for the beach, one block away.
The 1930's house was reshingled and reoriented; the viewing porch was once the entry.
The dining room opens to a new wraparound mahogany deck, where a mechanized canvas awning shades a glass-topped wicker table.
|Who has a beach house in New York City? A recent client of Laura Bohn Design Associates, for one. Admittedly, the couple's shingle-style vacation home was not in Manhattan but on the Rockaway peninsula, an 11-mile sliver of land on the south shore of Queens. Still, with its sandy beaches and grassy dunes, the barrier spit is Gotham with shades of Cape Cod.
Despite being only a block from the ocean, the 1930's two-story house did not share the neighborhood's resortlike vibe. "It was dark and badly planned. It needed a complete gut job," says Laura Bohn—a practiced hand at transforming old banks and farmhouses into refreshingly contemporary residences. So, the designer adds, she teamed up with her husband, Richard Fiore of BFI Construction Corp., and Donald Billinkoff Architects, a frequent collaborator, to "make the place feel beachy."
The team began by reorienting the house, which sits on a corner lot: moving the entrance from one street to the other, next to new parking spaces. (For much of the year, parking on the streets isn't allowed.) The dark, outmoded kitchen could then become a spacious foyer with slate floor tile and white-lacquered bead-board wainscoting. This classic beach-house paneling extends from the foyer into the new kitchen, where a light maple floor, hand-rubbed ash cabinets, pale green quartz counters, and white ceramic-tile backsplashes perpetuate the breezy mood. Separate preparation areas—one for dairy, one for meat—allow the Orthodox Jewish household to keep kosher.
Kitchen meals are served at an elliptical limed-ash table that swings out for easy access. If the table's generous sun-drenched banquette looks ready to accommodate a small army, that's because the 7,000-square-foot house is designed to lodge the owners' 24 children and grandchildren. There's a place for everyone at the 14-foot-long teak table in the adjoining dining room, too. Underfoot, a Tibetan wool rug is striped in aquatic blue and gray, and the stripe theme continues in the adjacent wraparound deck's banquette cushions and enormous canvas awning.
With so many youngsters running around, most of the furnishings needed to be childproof—take the durable polyester upholstery on the dining room's oak chairs. Not so in the living room, designed with grown-ups in mind. This parental retreat shares the dining room's light maple floor and pale gray walls, but the two spaces are separated by a glass wall that "provides aural privacy while maintaining visual openness," Billinkoff says.
The living room, with its wood-burning fireplace, is a cozy affair. A chunky rubbed-oak coffee table sits on a sisal rug, while seating is covered in a solid pistachio cotton or a taupe-on-cream floral damask. The latter represents a concession to the wife's traditional taste: It was a daughter who convinced the couple to "go modern" otherwise.
Beside the fireplace, French doors open to a viewing porch—the original entrance—from which adults can supervise children playing outside. Another pair of doors lead from the porch to a small television room with the same slate flooring as the foyer. A wide upholstered built-in bench here can be used as a bed for two small children. "We planned to sleep people everywhere," Bohn says with a laugh.
Most of the younger kids, however, sleep in an attic dormitory. Opened up with dormers and skylights, the space accommodates eight or more children, thanks to four twin beds, two large beanbags, and a long upholstered bench. A white rocker by Charles and Ray Eames adds a high-design note. Gooseneck lamps and clothes hooks are mounted on timber posts, with plenty more hooks in the attic's generously proportioned chartreuse bathroom.
The floor below the children's aerie comprises five adult bedrooms, each painted a light gray, blue, or green. Sand-colored carpet tiles, laid throughout, evoke a raked beach. Two of the rooms are new, created by adding a story to an existing extension on the ground level. To cope with heavy vertical traffic, Bohn's team attached a new stair tower to the side of the house. Topped with a skylight and fitted with ample windows, this stairwell allows sun to penetrate from different directions throughout the day. At the bottom of the stairs, a clerestory window offers a view into the basement recreation room, where the floor was lowered 18 inches for more ceiling height.
After a day at the beach, the youngsters can wash off in an outdoor shower before heading into the rec room for a game of Ping-Pong. Or they can stretch out and watch TV on the nearby chartreuse sectional. "You've got everything here," Bohn says. "Sun, sand, water—and kids coming out of the woodwork."
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