A Ranch Rebuild in East Hampton

A couple starts with a reno, then decides to build anew—with stunning results.
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The main house was built on the same footprint as its predecessor, with new indoor/outdoor decking overlooking the pool. Photograph by Joshua McHugh.

When your contractor says there’s a way to do it faster, better, and for less, chances are good that the expert knows best. David Rogal and Ron Carlivati had spent six months living on, and plotting the renovation of, their newly acquired property on the East Hampton–Amagansett border when their contractor stepped in and suggested that they reevaluate their approach. The couple had purchased two adjacent 1950s cottages with a plan to expand the larger into a main house and retain the smaller as a guest space. For the main house, their intention was to preserve the original Hamptons ranch-house charm—shingled siding, paned windows, and peaked roof—while adding more modern touches, specifically a flat-roofed primary bedroom wing and a glass-box entry foyer.

But as their renovation plans progressed, Rogal recounts, their contractor convinced them to “knock it down and start again” in order to create a new home that would ultimately be superior to an older one with grafted extensions and additions. Now convinced to build from scratch, Rogal and Carlivati nevertheless elected to integrate many of the design elements they had planned on from the beginning, “ticking all the boxes,” Rogal says, “of the old and the new.”

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The kitchen’s custom cabinetry is by Central Kitchens Corp. and the hood and range are from Bertazzoni. Photograph by Joshua McHugh.

For starters, the core of the main house maintains the overall footprint and aesthetic of the original. Working in concert with Murdock Solon Architects, Rogal and Carlivati elaborated on this footprint, creating a unique setting where different elevations express distinct personalities: one side looks like a traditional shingled Hamptons house, and the other more like a California mid-20th-century modern, with a long deck and glass doors spanning its length. The interior detailing further reflects this duality, commingling contemporary skylights and glass walls with trad beamed ceilings and classic wainscoting. The entire structure maintains a thorough dialogue with the outdoors, thanks in large part to a distinctive shingled exterior “screen” of sliding barn doors that extends from the main house and delineates areas of the yard. Rogal, who had seen a similar motif employed at a home in Montauk, describes it as “just the right element to evoke the atmosphere we wanted: shingled surf shack meets Neutra modern.”

The house that now stands on the property today is “a very personal space, different from what I might do for my clients,” continues Rogal, a decorator who worked for many years at Vicente Wolf Associates before going out on his own. “It’s super-relaxed and functional, and nothing has a set spot. Tables and chairs are always on the move, even from indoors to out. And some of the furnishings are pieces I’ve collected over the years, including many gems from the streets of New York City that have been given a little TLC and repurposed.”

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A custom mirror from Jesse Shapiro & James Glass Corporation reflects light on the deck, which is furnished with an RH sofa and a CB2 coffee table. The planters are from Rejuvenation. Photograph by Joshua McHugh.

Despite the home’s clean-lined aesthetic, the decor is anything but monastic. Rogal tends to lean toward “things that have crust,” such as an 1800s work bench nestled into the glass-box foyer and a carved African barrel side table in the living room. And Carlivati, an Emmy Award–winner who is head writer for Days of Our Lives, shares his husband’s penchant for modern design while admitting to a “propensity for whimsy.” Consider the bright yellow front door (Rogal had been thinking black) and various ephemera from Star Wars, Jaws, Charlie’s Angels, and The Incredible Hulk sprinkled about the rooms. Perhaps the couple ultimately saved time and money by cutting bait and starting anew, but in spirit the project will always be evolving. Rogal jokes that his clients often ask him, “Are we done yet?,” wryly asserting that in his own home, “We never have to be done.”

The print version of this article appears with the headline: Origin Story.