Designers’ House in Montauk


SURELY I’M ONE OF THE LAST DESIGN BLOGGERS to catch on to the work of this husband-and-wife team, a pair of former Hollywood set designers, below, who call themselves Roman and Williams even though their names are Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch (the firm is named after their grandfathers). They’ve designed public spaces and guest rooms for some of New York’s most aggressively trendy hotels — the Ace, the Standard, the Royalton — and their work has been published and re-published in World of Interiors, The New York Times, Metropolis, Remodelista, and scores of other publications, online and off. But it was only when I realized they have a house in Montauk, L.I., that I really took notice.


Their 2,000-square-foot pad on 3/4 acre has that raw, unheated look shared by my own beach house-to-be, so I lit upon all the photos of it I could find. Into the inspiration file — the one in my brain — they go. I like Roman and Williams’ vintage industrial sensibility, classic modern furniture, and ethnic touches, and the way it all seems put together with whatever flea market finds came to hand. I love that some of the interior is whitewashed, some is not, and the ceiling is largely unfinished. It’s a house that makes your typical decorating-magazine fodder look pretty soulless. I could do without the taxidermy, though.


For a slideshow of the house from the Roman and Williams website, go here. “Things We Made,” a book documenting the work of the duo’s first decade, was published last fall by Rizzoli.









Of Sunsets and Street Finds


…which have nothing to do with each other, of course, except that both begin with S.

See above for last night’s beaut over Montauk’s Fort Pond Bay, where I ate what will probably be the season’s last lobster dinner. I’m back in my Springs (East Hampton, N.Y.) cottage following a successful August rental. All went without a hitch (for me as the landlady, anyway — the tenants decamped a bit early because of impending Irene).

I’m glad to be back, even though my garden looks somewhat bedraggled and blah, lacking the sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ and other things that would be adding color this time of year. I spent most of yesterday chasing deer out of my backyard — need I say more?


As for the fortuitous street find, I’d been looking for a coffee table for my Springs living room at yard sales and in thrift shops, but I got away even cheaper. As I was packing my car in Brooklyn for the trip out here last Monday evening, I saw on the sidewalk, not two feet from where I was parked, the wrought iron and glass coffee table in the photos above and below.We sure have some great garbage in NYC!


This table is not exactly “me” — I might have passed it up at a yard sale, even for $20, as it’s of indeterminate age (could even be vintage Pottery Barn) and I had been thinking “rattan.” But it’s the perfect size and shape, and in tip-top condition, so I walked two steps, bent down, and lifted it into the hatchback of my trusty Honda Fit. I think it totally works on the sisal rug.


I’d also like to call your attention to the sculptural object on the high ledge, above. It’s the contorted remains of a Harry Lauder Walking Stick (Corylus contorta), an unusual deciduous shrub I like to call simply ‘the Harry.’ Planted a couple of years back, it didn’t survive in the ground — not sure why. Conveniently, however, this is a plant that looks better dead (or bare of leaves in winter).


Deskey-Designed Montauk Surf Shack $1.1M


WHAT’S A DESIGN PEDIGREE WORTH? Quite a bit, in the case of this 500-square-foot bungalow just sent to market by fashion designer Cynthia Rowley (who bought another mid-century Montauk house recently for 820K and probably doesn’t need two of them).


The pedigree is not Rowley’s, A-list celeb though she is. It’s that the house was designed in the late 1930s by architect Donald Deskey, best known for his elegant Art Deco contributions to Radio City Music Hall, for the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair. He called it the “Sportshack,” declaring his intention to “overcome the public’s aversion to factory-built homes by using open spaces, new materials, and practical decor.”


Kitchen cabinets look original

In 1940, a Sportshack was exhibited as part of an industrial design show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, kitted out as a hunting cabin with rifles and duck decoys. This particular one was erected in the Ditch Plains area of Montauk in the ’40s. As it stands, the house has just one bedroom and one bath, but it sits on a lot of nearly an acre and could be expanded.


For the official listing and many more pictures, click here.



WANT TO RENT my bright and comfortable 1940s cedar-shingled cottage in Springs, N.Y. (5 miles north of East Hampton village) August 1-31? It’s on a landscaped half-acre with a view into peaceful woods from the back deck.


The house is half a mile – a 10 minute walk, 5 minute bike ride, or 2 minute drive –from the beautiful, unspoiled, never-crowded Maidstone Beach on Gardiner’s Bay.


– 2BR (one full bed, two twins), 1 bath

– High ceilings, skylights, screened porch, huge deck, best outdoor shower ever


– ½ mile to Maidstone Beach, 1 mile to Louse Point (another spectacular beach on Accabonac Harbor). Superb swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding, etc.

– 5 miles to ocean beaches at East Hampton and Amagansett

-Under 1 mile to Springs Historic District, including Jackson Pollock-Lee Krasner House and Springs General Store

– 10 minutes East Hampton Village, 10 minutes Amagansett, 20 minutes Sag Harbor, 25 minutes Montauk (restaurants, bars, stores, art galleries, historic houses, movies, etc.)

– 2-1/4 hours from NYC, barring traffic

– Washer-dryer in basement

– Flat-screen TV, DVD player, Wi-Fi, printer, iPod dock

– A/C in living room, ceiling fans in LR and MBR

– $7,000 August 1-31

To see more photos, go here. Email if interested in renting, or for more information. Thanks!

Montauk Magic


ONE OF THE OCCUPATIONAL HAZARDS of writing for shelter magazines is that you see a lot of potentially envy-inducing places. Usually, I’m fine. A place may be beautiful, decorated by a top designer, or owned by very rich people, but it’s not generally something I can personally see myself living in, or desiring to live in, and I return to my humble cottage without wanting to cry.


Not so with my latest assignment for Hamptons Cottages & Gardens magazine. For an upcoming issue, I’m writing about a newly built house — compound, actually — on Lake Montauk that looks from the outside like a vernacular cedar-shingled cottage, but inside — sensitively, seamlessly — has all the bright, clean openness of  modern architecture.


The architect is Robert Young of the NYC firm Murdock Young, and the photos in this post (I’m just giving you a sneak peek) are by Michael Moran.

Though the house is 4,300 square feet, with five bedrooms and quite a few baths, it’s emphatically not a McMansion. It’s so cleverly broken up into smaller elements (the architect calls them ‘Monopoly houses,’ which are linked together by a tissue of steel and glass) that it feels totally human-scaled.

Look for the issue, distributed locally in stores here on the East End of Long Island, on August 15.