Sister Act: Katie Couric's Hamptons Home
At her Hamptons getaway, Katie Couric calls on her landscape-architect sister to open up the house to nature. Plus, view our exclusive image gallery.
photographs by Keith Scott Morton
produced by DJ Carey
(page 2 of 2)
Alfresco Living | Batchelor’s plan for the narrow property (right) allowed for lots of outdoor living spaces and places to relax. Wisteria (left) climbs the pillars of the patio.
Despite her big-sister tendencies, Batchelor treated Couric the same as any of her clients. “This wasn’t Clara’s little vanity project,” Couric says. “This is my house and property, and she was very respectful of that. She would make recommendations but never did anything without talking to me first.”
“In many ways the landscape had everything that Katie wanted—privacy, a pool and a tennis court—but there was very little charm and appeal,” says Batchelor, who reconfigured the driveway and parking court so as not to obscure the focal point of the front door, which is now enhanced with low plantings on either side and a new path of stepping stones that lead to it from the repositioned driveway.
Cozy Lair | The master bedroom, where Maisy relaxes, is sea-foam blue. “In the late afternoon, when the sun starts to go down, my bedroom is filled with a kind of rosy light and takes on a pink hue,” says Couric. The watercolor above the bed is from the jacqueline Kennedy Onassis auction.
At the rear of the house is a wonderful covered patio, perfect for outside dining, but the view from it was murky at best. A white picket fence and row of hydrangeas enclosed an adjacent small lawn, and a large shade tree loomed too close; these elements obscured the connection between the house and the pool and left the landscape hemmed-in and claustrophobic rather than inviting and airy. Batchelor removed the fence and hydrangeas and repositioned the shade tree, opening up the view of the pool and even the tennis court beyond.
Harmonious Arrangements | An antique drum doubles as a bar/table (left); bugles collected by Couric’s late husband, who was a bugler for a group of Civil War re-enactors, line a shelf (right).
As for the pool, it was saddled with unattractive brick coping and a lopsided deck; Batchelor added new bluestone coping and potted annuals that give vertical definition to the pool’s horizontal plane. Completing the setting are symmetrical pergolas covered in wisteria and perennial beds planted with peonies, phlox, coneflowers, daylilies and ornamental grasses. “Katie loves to harvest her own vegetables,” says Batchelor, “so I also added a vegetable garden near the pool where she grows herbs like rosemary, basil, oregano and thyme.”
Harmonious Arrangement | The sisters gather fresh-cut peonies into a vase (left). Artful Tableau | An antique chest (right) is topped with soldier figurines; the painting is by sag Harbor artist Walter Just.
At the far end of the long, narrow lot sat a “functional but nondescript tennis court,” so Batchelor planted out both ends with lilacs, viburnums, roses, clematis and hydrangeas. Couric, a tennis buff, loves to relax after a hard game under a new net-side pergola, profuse with climbing orange trumpet vines. “It’s a great vantage point when I’m about to cough up a lung after playing!” jokes Couric, who spends a lot of time outdoors in her new setting, “sitting on my tush by the pool, reading or playing tennis and just enjoying the quiet, lush environment and the beautiful sunsets. I love doing all the typical things in the Hamptons, like making dinner with friends. The minute I walk in the door here, I’m able to exhale in a way that I can never quite do in the city.”