Bridgehampton-based architect Kathrine McCoy becomes her own client—with predictably stellar results
photographs by Anastassios Mentis
In 2006, after a devastating fire destroyed Kathrine “Kitty” McCoy’s beloved Bridgehampton cape-style house—one the architect had designed herself and moved into ten years earlier—she didn’t just move on. She rebuilt. The ruinous blaze only motivated McCoy, a native East Ender whose relatives settled in Bridgehampton in 1928, to expand. Once again, McCoy assumed the unusual role of architect-as-client. “The project was tough at first because I was really concerned with making an architectural statement,” says McCoy, who launched her eponymous firm in 1991. “But once I focused on what my family loves, and how we live, the design and layout came easily.”
A talented architect best known for her quintessentially Hamptons structures, particularly seaside cottages and shingled colonials, McCoy delights in the left-brain/right-brain demands of her job. “I love combining mechanical, precise components with the creative,” she says. Her knack for logistics aside, McCoy thought her previous 2,200-square-foot home never quite measured up; a concentration of many smaller rooms—typical of cape layouts—didn’t allow her to use space efficiently.
Her new, 3,400-square-foot house, which she shares with her daughter, Catherine, and partner Walter Sternlieb, sits on the same flag-shaped lot, a short distance to town and McCoy’s office. Though its shingled exterior is an age-old Hamptons convention, the updated colonial’s open-flow interiors and contemporary flair are decidedly fresh. “I designed an open first-floor plan to coax guests through the space,” says McCoy. “I didn’t want people walking through the living room right when they entered the house.”
"The project was tough at first.
But once I focused on what my family loves, the design came easily"
Rather, guests enter an open hallway linked to a stunning barrel-vaulted gallery that adjoins both the living and dining areas. Her inspiration? “I just love shaped spaces,” she says. “It’s far more interesting than a square hallway.” McCoy’s friend Greg McKenzie, an interior designer who had worked on her previous home, chose Benjamin Moore’s Smokestack Gray paint in high gloss for the trim and ceiling and switched to matte for the walls, further highlighting McCoy’s clever architectural conceit. “Kitty and I trust each other’s taste,” says McKenzie, “and we work so well together that we almost speak in shorthand. We co-designed her interiors over lunch at Bobby Van’s!”
"I wanted the whole home to be
a sanctuary-a place that was confortable and peaceful"
One can’t help but gaze upward in the living and dining areas, where shallow yet substantial coffers form dramatic, centralized circles—also glistening with a high-gloss sheen. “Paneling and beadboard would have been too traditional, and hefty molding would have truncated the room’s height,” McCoy notes. A mirrored wall in the dining area reflects light into the north-facing room; one sliding section of the wall reveals a pocket-door conduit to the kitchen, which features a custom-designed reclaimed oak island topped with two-inch-thick honed Carrara marble (“I wanted it to look aged,” says McCoy). On the south side of the kitchen, she carved out an adjoining sitting area, from which “it’s impossible to get guests to vacate when I’m entertaining.” The enclosed back porch, which flanks the kitchen, dining, and living rooms, has exponentially increased her year-round livable space. “I can seat 18 without moving anything,” adds McCoy, who enjoys views of the family pond from both the porch and every rear window on the second floor.
As if the back porch weren’t substantial enough, both the master and guest bedrooms feature French doors that open onto an ample outdoor deck. “I wanted the whole home to be a sanctuary—a place that was comfortable and peaceful,” says McCoy. A true nature lover, she constantly scans for new activity on the ever-changing pond, watching the turtles float around and, at night, “listening to the sounds, especially the frogs. They’re the best!”