HAMPTONS VOYEUR: Casual Decor for a Quirky Rental

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PART OF THE FUN OF BLOGGING is getting the occasional bead on a great subject from a reader. I met Dorothee van Mol and her husband Paul a year ago when they came to look at my East Hampton cottage as a possible year-round rental. We spent a pleasant hour chatting on my deck, but ultimately, they decided to rent in Southampton, closer to their primary home in Brooklyn. Dorothee continued to follow my blog, and when she saw the unconventional modernist house I bought in East Hampton last spring, she knew I’d be interested in seeing the sprawling complex she and Paul have been renting.

The site: now that’s a tale. As is the house itself, which began as a 1920s industrial dairy building. It’s unclear whether cows were actually housed there, but refrigerated compartments, concrete floors, a pass-through marked “Milk and Package Receiver,” and other quirky elements are clues to its origins. The acre-and-a-half spread, on the fringe of Southampton village, was owned at one time by a garden designer, some of whose landscape architecture remains, and then by three partners who began an ambitious expansion of the house with cinderblock construction and casement windows, covering many thousands of square feet, before feuding and parting ways. The property came up for rent, and that’s when Dorothee and Paul, who have two college-age kids, stepped in. They decorated resourcefully, on a shoestring, with furnishings they had in storage, items they found on the property, and a few fill-ins from IKEA. I love its casual Bohemian air.

Let’s circumnavigate the property first, and then we’ll go inside…

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Walls around the gravel parking court and elsewhere on the property are made of stacked stone in wire cages called gabions.

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Charcoal gray-painted trim against brown vertical clapboard siding, looks chic and ties together disparate windows and doors.

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One of two kitchens — yes, that’s right — is in an extension at the front of the house.

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Around the side, you sense the building’s utilitarian origins.

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Old perennial beds and self-seeding annuals soften the unfinished walls of the never-completed extension.

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There’s a lap pool around the back, of which I’m terribly envious, surrounded by ornamental grasses and an allee of trees.

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Long gravel walks punctuated by cypress trees and lined with flagstone packed in wire cages have a classical Mediterranean feel.

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A wall of glass windows and doors opens to a gravel courtyard. The parking court and entry gate are in the stone wall at left.

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The long west-facing entry hall gets afternoon light. Kitchen #1, below, is down the end.

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There’s a small dining area in that same kitchen, above…

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and a rustic bar.

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The main living space has one spectacular window and a wood ceiling.

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Wire grids found around the property were pressed into service as bulletin boards.

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There’s a sophisticated contemporary bathroom with a marble vanity and the world’s smallest sink, below.

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Kitchen #2, below, looks out into the heart of the abandoned construction project, which, as greenery overtakes it, seems a bit like an ancient archaeological site.

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Below, the enormous master bedroom.

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Two additional bedrooms, one with the curious cubby-hole.

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The future of the site and the couple’s tenancy is uncertain, so — though they put in a fair amount of work painting and decorating — the whole project has a casual, spur-of-the-moment feeling about it. Thanks, Dorothee, for letting us have a look.

About cara

I blog for fun here at casaCARA, and write about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites. My recently published posts and articles can be found here: https://casacara.wordpress.com/recent-articles/
This entry was posted in ARCHITECTURE, HAMPTONS, HAMPTONS VOYEUR, INTERIOR DESIGN, LANDSCAPING, LONG ISLAND and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to HAMPTONS VOYEUR: Casual Decor for a Quirky Rental

  1. mud4fun says:

    An interesting house. It has great potential and those unfinished buildings would make a great workshop for my Land Rovers :-) I love the gardens and the use of the stone packed in crates.

  2. melanie says:

    Interesting! I like it.

  3. love it! Thanks for letting us in!

  4. Julia Mack says:

    The original farmhouse spaces look interesting. The renters have done a nice job making them feel like a comfortable home but he unfinished concrete block outbuildings are quite odd. The walls should be lowered and turned into a well thought out maze of planting beds and garden walls. A variety of greenery would soften the spaces, making them usable and more inviting. Images of European gardens are always an inspiring place to start.

  5. coppermaven says:

    What lovely grounds and quirky space! A real find.

  6. cate says:

    That milk and storage receiver looks like an insulated spot for the milk delivery guy to leave bottles when the homeowner is out.

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