The Hamptons. Affluent New Yorkers' seaside playground famous for spectacular family homes. It is tempting to think that all homes in this much-celebrated location are luxurious, but as this gut renovation project by Amalia Graziani proves, the Hamptons have plenty of homes that need an experienced real estate developer's eye to unlock their potential.
Amalia is a residential real estate developer specializing in renovations in New York and San Francisco. Most recently, she completed a serene, light-filled home in the Hamptons (Amagansett) with a gut renovation and expansion. The challenge was to take an unassuming cottage with challenging structural issues and transform it into a spacious and bright modern home.
Amalia explains that she saved the cottage from demolition: 'The home is located in Amagansett on a charming street between town and the ocean. It’s framed by a canopy of trees and I fell in love with the location, but the house needed serious work.'
'The property was presented as an obvious tear-down, but with so much new construction in the area, we saw an opportunity to retain the character of the house with a renovation and expansion.'
The next step was to find a way to visually open up the space, without compromising its existing architectural style. 'The primary focus of this renovation was to create space that is very open, symmetrical and calm. We wanted the home to be structurally interesting, so the focus in any room would be on the beams, paneling or windows and furniture would be secondary.'
Some structural modifications became necessary to achieve this goal. 'We needed to improve our sense of scale. Stairs were shallow, ceilings were low and the windows were small.'
'We opened the space by blowing out the ceilings to showcase the pitched rooflines and excavated the lower level to allow for higher ceilings. Beyond that, we replaced everything in the home and expanded the house by 100 feet.'
Amalia's focus for this home (her own, after all) was to maximise the amount of natural light coming. This became possible when she decided to replace windows with French doors.
'During the summer, the indoor and outdoor spaces blend,' she says. 'We created custom beams and beadboard throughout, which play off of the perpendicular lines on the French doors. Multiple layers of paneling and beams cast shadows that shift throughout the day. These bolder structural elements allowed for very understated furniture in pared-down fabrics.'
Glass interior doors also are used throughout the home and provide a sense of continuity between different areas of the house. The effect is understated and perfectly balanced between traditional and modern elements.
One of the rooms, however, is quite different in character, dominated by an imposing central fireplace and wood panelling that's been left au naturel. 'Since the home is used year-round, we wanted to create a warm den/great room that would lend itself to cold winter nights by the fire,' she explains.
'To do this, we opened up the garage, which had beautiful high ceilings. Made to look like an adapted barn, the room has full wood paneling and heavy stonework on the fireplace, which was a risk given the airiness of the rest of the home. This choice ended up grounding the house and provides a relaxed space for larger groups.'
To prevent the room from looking too dark and heavy, Amalia build a window inside the fireplace, which 'required additional effort, but it ultimately infused the room with light and some playfulness.'
The dining room showcases Amalia's eye for combining different materials and finishes to a smart yet inviting effect. 'I'm partial to the paneling in the dining room and the marble mantle from Jamb (opens in new tab),' she says.
'I love mixing sharper materials like marble, glass, and metals with rough woods and casual fabrics.'
Clearly a labour of love, the house required much work, but the result is a stylish, perfectly poised interior in place of a house that was about to be demolished.
'The renovation took a little over a year, thanks to the work of an incredible team that worked hard to complete quickly. I cannot understate the value of sourcing a construction team based on referrals!'
Anna is Consumer Editor across Future home titles. She contributes to Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, Ideal Home and Real Homes, and she has a background in academic research. She is the author of London Writing of the 1930s. Not just an expert in consumer shopping trends, she has also written about literature, architecture, and photography, and has a special interest in high-end interior design.
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