Step Inside a Southampton Home Adorned with Bamboo



Southampton Beach Home Fernandes-Vogel

It’s hard to resist the temptations of a jungle near the ocean, especially if you grew up in a beach town in Brazil, says architect and native Brazilian Karla Fernandes-Vogel. When she and her then-fiancé, Matt, who owns the hip stationery company Quotable Cards, were looking to buy a Hamptons beach house, they immediately saw the possibilities in a ramshackle carriage house near Georgica Pond. “The whole thing was very wild, very Grey Gardens,” says Fernandes- Vogel. What sold them on the spot: an incredible grove of bamboo that towered behind the property. “We saw it and just went, Ahhhhhhh.” They bought the place and then, in a boho, Grey Gardens–like move, decided to throw themselves a wedding in their new forest. A boulder was dragged in as the altar, and as the couple took their vows with the wind whistling through the bamboo, “It felt like a pagan temple.”

It was also the perfect way to christen their new home, which they had initially planned to tear down, as it didn’t go with their minimalist sensibilities at all. The interior was a hodgepodge of tiny rooms, blond-wood floors and a narrow, ill-proportioned staircase that screamed accident-about-to-happen. As for the exterior, a wacky roofline highlighted all the additions cobbled onto the structure after it was built in the thirties. But despite its quirks, the house began to grow on them, and they soon found themselves settling in rather than tearing down.

The first order of business: staining the floors black—a quick fix to hide sun damage—and painting the walls white to give the place a more open feel. Then they decided to chill for a while. “In the city, our apartment is a jewel box, with lots of detailing and cabinetry,” says Fernandes- Vogel, who worked at the prestigious firm Davis Brody Bond before starting her own architectural practice in Manhattan. “It’s very precious.”

At the beach house, though, they threw away the rules, the bids and the punch lists and just had fun hunting for quirky objects at local art fairs, flea markets and favorite shops, such as Comerford Collection in Bridgehampton. Pillows brought back from a trip to Morocco are tossed about downstairs; a trunk handmade by Fernandes-Vogel’s grandfather was shipped north and plunked into a bedroom. The living room “mobile,” made of Chinese lantern blossoms for their wedding ceremony, has yet to be taken down. And a custom checkered rug from their New York apartment was tossed into the back of the car once they realized it would look a lot better in East Hampton.

The come-what-may decorating style works beautifully because the couple have stayed true to their minimalist roots. Color, texture and line are considered in elegant, yet casual tableaux with lots of contrasting white space, so each piece has room to breathe. Casually furnished, with comfy, low seating pieces, the home is also naturally kid-friendly (the Vogels are now parents of two-and-a-half-year-old twins), and several small bedrooms easily accommodate weekend guests.

“When we started to build our own histories into this house,” says Fernandes-Vogel, “is when it began to grow on us.” Yes, they’ve added a few things over the years, like the back patio and the brand-new boardwalk that leads through the bamboo toward the pool (and which their little boys like to use as a makeshift racetrack). Someday, too, they’ll definitely get to those still-precarious stairs, but right now they couldn’t be happier with the way things are.

A version of this article appeared in the August 1 2011 issue of HC&G (Hamptons Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Carriage Trade.

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Architect Spotlight

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Haver & Skolnick Architects
Haver & Skolnick Architects creates award-winning homes of timeless design, providing personal service & impeccable attention to detail. For 22 years, Charles Haver, AIA and Stewart Skolnick, AIA have offered a single source for architecture, interior design and landscape architecture, creating seamless environments which are a reflection of their clients’ personalities. The firm has been nationally recognized for comfortable, classic country homes and elegant apartments which reflect history while responding to a contemporary lifestyle.


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Consiglio Builders
Consiglio Builders is a luxury residential construction company located on the East End of Long Island. We have developed a unique method of residential construction in the Hamptons—we call it "The Considered Approach." It stems from our experience which demonstrates that meticulous planning and transparency throughout the process, combined with our expertise and emphasis on perfection, enable us to deliver consistently the best-constructed homes on time and within budget to our discerning clientele.


 

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James Merrell Architects 
From our perspective in the 21st century, all styles are historical. Even Modernism is now a century old. So, we are free to interpret, and interweave the minimal with the decorative to find new expressions for our own era. Our house celebrates this new design freedom. It brings a contemporary sensibility to the architectural covenants of this otherwise traditional neighborhood. Floor to ceiling glass on the ground floor, for instance, yields modern interior spaces. While above, divided windows sit comfortably in second floor dormers. And the style that results is both unique and timeless.


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Bates Masi + Architects
Bates Masi + Architects LLC, a full-service architectural firm with roots in New York City and the East End of Long Island for over 50 years, responds to each project with extensive research in related architectural fields, material, craft and environment for unique solutions as varied as the individuals for whom they are designed. The focus is neither the size nor the type of project but the opportunity to enrich lives and enhance the environment.

Bates+Masi Architects
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