Tour the Caudalie Founders' Tranquil Hampton Bays Home
Atop a 60-foot bluff with spectacular views of Peconic Bay sits a secluded Stateside summer home for an ultra-sporty Parisian family. From the floor to the ceilings and the wraparound deck, the architecture is flawless—much like the house’s effortlessly chic owners, Mathilde and Bertrand Thomas, co-founders of the all-natural French skincare brand Caudalie, a two-decades-old empire that now includes more than 50 boutique spas around the world.
After a long stint in Asia and a recent move back to Paris, the peripatetic Thomases and their three children are more thrilled than ever to retreat each summer to their vacation home in a decidedly pas chic corner of Hampton Bays, where they relax, entertain, and enjoy the daily rhythms of summer living. “We disconnect from our lives here,” says Mathilde. “It’s a great base for activities like surfing, biking, swimming, running, and yoga.”
Humble and laid-back they may be, but the Thomases weren’t necessarily going to settle for a shack in the woods. Caleb Mulvena, principal architect and co-founder of the New York–based firm Mapos, had transformed the Caudalie brand’s headquarters in Paris and New York, and was a natural fit for the project. “Caleb is talented and open-minded,” says Bertrand, “and we connect with him extremely well. He loves old Europe, but has a very modern American eye for design. He loves reclaimed woods as much as we do and understands how to accommodate a family with kids and a summer vacation vibe.”
The setting on the bluff was idyllic, Mulvena recalls, but there were challenges. “We wanted the house to stay low, seemingly almost hidden, as one approaches it through the woods, so it’s actually submerged into the side of the meadow overlooking the bay and truly integrated with the surrounding landscape.” Within the open-plan interiors, Mulvena avoided the stereotypical “great room” look with a sleek Cor-Ten steel fireplace and a 60-foot-long wall that delineates separate living spaces, while also doubling as a library and shelving for collectibles and beach artifacts. “It’s really a spine that connects all the open areas of the house and acts as an architectural organizer.”
The Thomases love to have guests and entertain, so Mulvena outfitted the rooms with plenty of bunk beds, built-in closets, and shelving made of both painted white pine and raw unfinished Western red cedar. “The Thomases love cedar,” he says. “The smell, the feel, the look, and the way it ages beautifully without any finish on it. And honestly, to embrace a true surfer lifestyle, a beach house shouldn’t have Sheetrock anyway, so we banned it from this project.”
Access to ample outdoor living spaces comes via large hurricane-proof glass panels, which lead to custom-designed decking made from repurposed ipe wood from Nicaragua, a warm brown that will weather to a silvery gray over time. The bayfront exterior of the home embraces a handsome 25-meter pool, carefully sited to ensure that it is always basking in direct sunlight.
“This project was a dream job,” Mulvena recounts. “The Thomases were very engaged from start to finish and understood the amount of work and love required to make the house exactly as we had conceived it. It really was a labor of love for all of us.”
A version of this article appeared in the September/October issue of HC&G (Hamptons Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Bonnes Vacances.