Decorator Scott Sanders’ Brand-New Cliff-Top Home in the Hamptons

At his own house on Gardiners Bay, Scott Sanders reaches for the sky.
2022 © Nickolas Sargent

A precipitous 93-step stairway connects the house to a private beach below. Photography by Nick Sargent

One would think that leaving a storied home and exquisite gardens on East Hampton’s prestigious Further Lane might be a heartbreaking endeavor, but for interior designer Scott Sanders and his husband, retired corporate lawyer Peter Wilson, the time came to embrace their wild side. “Peter has always had a desire to live on the water,” recounts Sanders, who keeps offices in New York and Palm Beach, “and unbeknownst to me, he had been looking [for another property] for a number of years.” Wilson eventually stumbled on a stunning cliffside setting overlooking Gardiners Bay, reached by a steep 93-step stairway leading down to a private beach. “I remember it was very cold and raining when we drove over to see it,” Sanders continues. “I said, ‘If it’s this beautiful in the rain, then it must be incredible in the sun.’”

2022 © Nickolas Sargent

In the living room, matching sofas from Wyeth are covered in a Thibaut linen. Decorator and homeowner Scott Sanders designed the rug, which was produced by Sacco Carpet. Photography by Nick Sargent

During the nearly 15 years that the couple lived on Further Lane, Sanders says, the road “got busier and busier,” and this new parcel provided them with an opportunity to “create a space that was very quiet, all about nature and openness, light and air.” Designing the home from scratch presented an added bonus, since they used the same architect and builder as the Further Lane house, BarlisWedlick and Trunzo Building Contractors. “I give them a lot of credit for working with a couple who have a ton of opinions, one of whom is an interior designer!” Sanders says with a laugh, adding that he and his husband are generally sympatico when it comes to decision-making. “The two of us collaborated on the architecture and the gardens and the overall feel of the house, and as for the decorating, I incorporated a lot of items from the previous house, which I either reupholstered, repainted, or reused. This home has a connection to our 17 years together as well as our earlier lives. It has a sense of continuity.” It’s also a fitting new showcase for Sanders’s “greatest hits”: furnishings he has aggregated during the last two decades and longed to find a permanent place for. These come from various favorite sources including Wyeth, Orange in Los Angeles, and ShowPony in Palm Beach.

Ample in size, the house is surprisingly intimate, thanks to a floor plan that essentially comprises two separate, linked structures, so that “when you are in a space it’s about that one space, and you can see to the next space through a division or a pathway,” says Sanders, whose smart color sense, anchored by a palette of nautical blues, further connects the rooms into a seamless whole. “Peter, whose favorite color is green, was a very good sport about everything. He said, ‘I suppose you are going to do blue, since we’re on the water.’ But while you want a cohesive thread with any project you’re working on, you also want the rooms to have their own feel. Each pavilion and each wing here, for example, has its own shade of blue.”

2022 © Nickolas Sargent

In the kitchen, pendants from Studio Van den Akker hang above a custom island topped in Soapstone Fantasy from ABC Stone. Photography by Nick Sargent

Of note in the living room is a Sanders-designed rug whose pattern is meant to evoke “either oars or waves in the water,” and in the kitchen, blue stone and tile work in tandem with warm wood cabinetry to create a cocooning effect—most appropriate for a couple who love to entertain, cook, and bake.

2022 © Nickolas Sargent

Swaddled in a framework of beach grasses, the infinity-edge swimming pool stretches toward Gardiners Bay. The chaises and ottomans are from David Sutherland. Photography by Nick Sargent

Such a spectacular setting also calls for spending much time outdoors, so the couple enlisted landscape designer Craig Socia to make a plan that would be the antithesis of a formal garden. Invasive wisteria was replaced with a native plant palette centered on beach grasses, which went into the soil even before construction began. Now it forms an undulating field of green framing the infinity-edge pool. “It looks effortless, but it wasn’t effortless,” Sanders says with a smile. “It’s all about the view and how you get to the view. On some projects, things just click into place, and everything came together on this one. To have that happen while you are working on your own house is wonderful. All the surprises were pleasant surprises, which is very rare.”

The print version of this article appeared with the headline: Cliff Hanger.