An Airy Waterfront Family Home in Sag Harbor

Beachy and chic, bold and fresh: In Sag Harbor, all come together in one tidy package.
Natural-toned Hamptons Kitchen

Custom oak cabinetry and twin oak-top tables set the tone in the combined kitchen and dining area. The Abi dining chairs are from Avenue Road and the pendants are from Urban Electric. Photograph by Isabel Parra.

When previous clients of designers Daniel Barsanti and his wife, Rena Levine, bought a house in the Hamptons, it seemed natural for them to engage Barsanti’s firm, Barsanti Desmone, to turn the place into a family getaway. The traditional 4,100-square-foot house, which was built in 2000 on a .61-acre neck of land that’s attached to the historic village by a narrow causeway.

The house, inside and out, was a throwback to earlier decades, but the new owners loved the flow of it, including a primary bedroom on the main floor and big upstairs rooms for their three kids, aged 14 to 20. Additionally, the five-bedroom home faces west, has a great view of sunsets over the water, and welcomes light all day long.

Hamptons sunroom sitting area

In the newly winterized sunroom, four swivel armchairs from Verellen are slipcovered in a C&C Milano fabric. The ceiling fixture is from Arteriors Home. Photograph by Isabel Parra.

The light was key for Barsanti. “My first step in any project is to visit the site to see how a house attracts light, reflects light, plays with light,” he says, “and that is especially true near the water, where the light is indescribably beautiful. In this project, light informed every decision we made, right down to furniture placement.”

Barsanti, who acknowledges that his clients gave him a lot of leeway, thought that the house might feel more special if it differed significantly from their primary home in Westchester County, which is traditional in style and quite colorful. The designer and his team—including colleague Christopher Desmone and builders David and Justine Rimland of Rimland Construction—set about rethinking the interiors. “Our clients,” Barsanti reports, “didn’t just want to spend the weekend at another house. They wanted to be transported.”

The original floor plan remains intact, but the decorator did decide to remove some antiquated architectural details, deleting pony walls and columns, simplifying fireplace surrounds, and replacing a standard-issue farmhouse-style kitchen with something far sleeker and more contemporary. Thanks to the sorcery of the subcontractors, Barsanti and his team were also able to salvage, patch, and refinish the original hardwood floors.

“Every decision we made was about how the space would be used,” the decorator says. The homeowners work in the financial sector and like to entertain, so they requested a substantial dining option, but “we bought two tables that could be separated, so if you were on your own you wouldn’t feel isolated at a long table.” And then there was the light: A huge round mirror in the primary bedroom, which is discreetly tucked into the home’s eastern elevation, reflects water views from the custom bed.

Hamptons Bedroom

In the primary bedroom, a teak-framed circular mirror from Homenature plays off a custom oak canopy bed by Barsanti Desmone. Photograph by Isabel Parra.

Barsanti upended laid-back beach house stereotypes with sophisticated furnishings throughout, far more modern than the home’s exterior would suggest. “We didn’t want anything that was only ‘of the moment,’” he says, “and we didn’t want traditional overtones, either. We wanted it clean and simple, easy to maintain, and something with lasting visual value.” To that end, most of the pieces are unusual, refined, or custom-designed. Still, Barsanti doesn’t shy away from stretching the budget with artful applications of high and low. One bedroom, for example, has a plush James Perse throw at the foot of the bed, whereas the wall-mounted headboard is covered in an Ikea carpet.

“The goal of this project was not to turn the house into a design object, although we wanted it to be attractive and a bit sexy. The goal was to create a place for joyful family gatherings, a place where the kids and parents would be happy spending time together, and that remained the same from day one. Everything we did was an attempt to reach that goal.”

The print version of this article appears with the headline: Graphic Punch.