A Long Island home built to take advantage of Oyster Bay views
This newly built house on New York’s Long Island was designed by architect Stuart Disston with one overriding challenge: "how to take advantage of the really spectacular view" of Oyster Bay.
The two-story shingle house presents a traditional face street side, with a subtly bowed front facade swelling above the portico. View subsequent slides to see how well Disston succeeded in creating rooms with a view.
Architects: Stuart Disston, AIA, with Joshua Rosensweig and Guy Horvath, AIA, Austin Patterson Disston Architects, 376 Pequot Ave., P.O. Box 61, Southport, CT 06890; 203/255-4031; and 4 Midland St., Quogue, NY 11959; 631/653-1481, apdarchitects.com.
Interior design: Eliza Gatfield, Custom Cool, LLC, 357 Centre Island Rd., Oyster Bay, NY 11771; 516/413-6313.
Photography: Bruce Buck
Produced by Bonnie Maharam
To create as many water views as possible, Disston strung together the main living spaces--library, living room, family room, breakfast area, and sunporch--on a north-south axis, so each room has views of the bay to the east. The rooms are linked by a series of double doors that open for easy traffic flow and unfettered views through the house.
This is the breakfast room. Homeowner Eliza Gatfield, who is herself trained as an architect and who did the interior design of her house, had the room’s dining chairs covered in eight different fabric patterns, with no two chairs sporting the same combination.
Elvis, one of the family’s two Burmese cats, enjoys the library couch. The rug was designed by homeowner Eliza Gatfield, borrowing on painterly ikat motifs. Eliza designs textiles for her business, Custom Cool.
Paneled doors flank the living room fireplace, linking the room to the library.
Like much of the house, the living room has a great view of the sailboats on Oyster Bay.
Eliza Gatfield is happy to give credit where credit is due, and when it comes to her gently worn pine floors, the honors go to Pug, Mopsy, Cooper, and Sesame. "We have four dogs, and they have aged the floors beautifully," she says, "I know it would drive some people insane, but I love the wear and tear. It gives the floors such a wonderful lived-in feel."
Carpenters hammered black nails randomly into the chocolate-stained wide planks to play up the antique look. "The floors are key," Eliza says. "Everyone who comes here comments on how it feels like the house has been here for centuries, and gradually updated."
A sky-blue ceiling and an array of quaint fabrics keep the mood light in the master bedroom. Curtain panels in alternating fabrics offer privacy when needed, but don’t block the view. "I wanted the landscape to become part of the architecture," Eliza says.
Eliza’s mix of fabrics enlivens the master bedroom. "I use traditional materials, but I combine them in unusual ways," she says. "What you achieve by mixing and matching is a lack of formality."
Eliza worked with painters to create timeworn finishes on the cabinetry she designed for this room and for the butler’s pantry.
Eliza put a fresh spin on the utilitarian kitchens of early-20th-century manor houses she had admired in Europe. "I love to cook, and I wanted a kitchen that would function properly but not be overly modern." White subway tiles cover the walls nearly to the ceiling, and appliances are white rather than too-21st-century stainless steel. Eliza and daughter Ella, 10, often bake together, so Eliza designed a spacious island with storage for baking supplies. At the heart of the island is a Dutch baking cabinet Eliza found in Europe. "It was made to sit on a counter and has glass containers that pull out for flour and sugar," she explains. "We literally built the island around that piece."
When Eliza couldn’t find the style of refrigerator she liked, she designed a wall of built-ins that resemble old iceboxes. Working with a company that installs commercial coolers, Eliza had three refrigerators and a freezer built in, with the compressors in the basement below. The units are fitted with reproduction heavy-duty latches and temperature gauges above each unit.
A Dutch door next to the range leads to the mudroom and the house’s exclamation point: a serpentine staircase with beadboard walls and clerestory windows. (See next slide.)
Architect Disston was inspired by an old Shaker design when he created the curving staircase off the kitchen. Even the dogs appreciate it. "They love to sit on the stairs and look out the little round window," Eliza says. "It’s probably the most perfect space in the house."
The winding staircase is housed in an octagonal tower at the south end of the house.
As in the master bedroom, nearly every cabinet front in the butler’s pantry features a different shirred fabric insert, and even the hardware is mismatched. On a trip home from England, Eliza loaded her luggage with an assortment of antique bronze and brass cabinet latches and handles. "I bought as many as I could fit in a suitcase," she says.
The second-story child’s bedroom with a built-in bed has a great view, too.
The fireplace on the sunporch is backed by an outdoor fireplace that shares the flue.
Eliza Gatfield on her back terrace with Pug and Cooper, two of her four dogs.