A Sweet Sag Harbor Saltbox Gets a Modern Makeover



Farrin Cary and Rylan Jacka's Sag Harbor Saltbox strikes the perfect balance of 19th century charm and modern luxury.Sag Harbor has come a long way since its days as a center of the whale oil trade. For more than a century after that industry collapsed, it was still familiar mostly to locals, sitting deep in the shadow of the splashier Hamptons due south. But the secret, as everyone knows, is out: The village has never been more popular, attracting the likes of weekend sailors, luxury shop owners, and stylish young families who find its charming intimacy and bustling-for-the-country downtown a perfect balance between too-small and suburban sprawl.

Farrin Cary and her husband, Sotheby’s International Realty associate broker Rylan Jacka, had wanted to raise their young daughters, Marinna and Amaya, in a small town with a supportive community. Sag Harbor’s accessibility—the girls can walk to the grocery store and the library—and abundant homespun personality presented the perfect mix of contemporary living without all the urban angst.

The San Francisco natives had dated a few times during high school, but went their separate ways after graduation. Years later, they met again at a jazz festival in Manhattan and rekindled their relationship. Jacka had moved to the Hamptons, and when things got serious, Cary followed suit, taking a job at Guild Hall in East Hampton. They have been residents of the East End, where Cary now works as an interior decorator, for nearly 15 years.

The first house they lived in was a 1980s McMansion in Bridgehampton, “but I needed an old house!” exclaims Cary, whose parents were antiques dealers. Both she and Jacka grew up in older homes and appreciated the patina that comes with age. “I wanted history, floorboards that were creaky. In an old house, you just feel more rooted.”

Sag Harbor, they found, was more to their liking. The couple’s infatuation with the village began in an 1817 home that Cary describes as a “jewel box,” similar to many of the town’s numerous saltbox-style cottages. They had renovated it, but the house was missing a few key elements for a growing family: There was no guest room, no home office, and no place for a pool—though admittedly, in a town with little acreage, pools are few and far between.

During the eight years they lived in the house, Cary kept her eye on a home located just around the corner—one that had room for a pool. “A woman had lived in it for a long time, and I would occasionally see her from my window,” she says. When the house finally came on the market, Cary and Jacka jumped at the chance and made an offer, though it took a year and a half for it to become theirs.

It was hardly move-in ready. The upper floor had been chopped into a warren of teeny bedrooms, and the bathrooms weren’t updated. But there were four fireplaces and beautiful floors underneath the carpeting, which was easy enough to take up. “The house seemed perfect,” Cary remembers.

They honored the home’s character by retaining its 19th-century integrity while giving it modern layers—installing arched entryways, opening up and revamping the kitchen to include a dining and sitting area, and creating four ample bedrooms and three baths. Gracing the façade is a glamorous, but not showy, blue-gray paint. “We didn’t want it to be just another Sag Harbor misty gray,” Cary says. The Jackas spend the bulk of their quality time in the living room, which is at its best, Cary reports, when bathed in the late afternoon light. “There’s no TV, and no technology, but it’s so pleasant being in the heart of the home. The house is far more luxurious than one with no intention behind it. It really feels ‘on purpose.’”

A version of this article appeared in the August 1, 2016 issue of HC&G (Hamptons Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Sweet Saltbox.

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Property of Note Listing

15 Kings Dock Road, Garrison, NY
Enjoy the best that the Hudson Valley has to offer at this 9-acre estate offering awe-inspiring vistas, stunning passive architecture and a unique private deep-water dock on the Hudson River. Sited to take full advantage of the amazing scenery, the three-bedroom residence is a triumph of modernist design featuring airy open-plan living spaces and vast window walls that dramatically frame the blissful water and mountain views. The setting, boasting ¼ mile of frontage along the river, also hosts a two-bedroom guest house, a striking Greek temple/playhouse overlooking the river and a detached garage.



View more details about 15 Kings Dock Road
Nautilus Architects
Christopher Arelt’s practice, Nautilus Architects, involves collaboration and interpretation, with each design evolving in its own way in response to the site, context and client. Chris’ work is seen as a continuation of but also a response to Modernism; or, more specifically, a return to regionalism and artistry, where clients’ projects are developed with the “head, hearts and hands” of all those involved. All of our buildings explore the use of natural light, reveal the inherent beauty of the materials being used, and bring the outdoors in.


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Laura Kaehler Architects
Laura Kaehler Architects is an Award Winning Architectural Firm. Along with Laura Kaehler, AIA, we have a talented staff of 5 architects and designers who create new homes, renovations and additions and apartment renovations. Designing a smaller footprint while obtaining a "big look" with an open floor plan design, better craftsmanship and detailing and richer materials is what we call "Responsible Luxury" and is a key element of our design philosophy.

Laura Kaehler

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Fiona Leonard Interiors
Fiona Leonard Interiors, LLC is a full service design firm that specializes in making a client’s home unique and custom tailored to the owners taste and lifestyle. Projects are personally supervised from initial consultation to installation. Strong relationships with carefully selected creative artisans, highly skilled craftsmen and subcontractors ensures that your project will be in good hands. With over 20 years experience working alongside well established design professionals in Connecticut and Manhattan, Fiona Leonard Interiors, LLC was established.Fiona designs interiors with a casual elegance and timeless approach. Inherent in all her work is Fiona’s passion to combine clean lines and an artistic use of color that is comfortable for the client and reflects their personal lifestyle.

Fiona Leonard Interiors

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Daniel Conlon Architects
Wind and weather, the ebb and flow of the tide, changing color and light define the rhythm of coastal living. This recent home embraces the idea with light-filled spaces , expansive views , cozy niches, and outdoor living environments. Landscape terraces and stonework ground the building to the site, while respecting all current building codes. Daniel Conlon Architects, based in Wilton CT, has designed numerous waterfront homes throughout the Northeast.

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