Splendor in the Glass: A Southampton Estate with Walls of Windows
This dreamy getaway in the Hamptons enclave's estate section looks to the light.
The most abundant “building material” employed in this Southampton home is one that neither its architect nor its interior designer could purchase, only harness. “Light,” says its builder and co-designer, SBP Homes’ Jim Hoffman, “is what energizes this house. When you walk inside, you immediately face an 80-foot expanse of glass—and can’t help but be drawn to the landscape that surrounds the property. Art is what the homeowners collect and value, but glass and windows were even more important to them.”
The residence’s interior designer, Francis Nicdao, chief creative officer of Pembrooke & Ives, adds, “It was about getting as much glazing in place as possible, creating a sense of airiness and light everywhere.” In the rear of the house, virtually the entire elevation opens to the outdoors. Roll-down screens supply shelter. This vantage point offers unimpeded views of the property, sumptuously and subtly designed by landscape architect Mario Nievera.
Both Nicdao and Hoffman have created prior residences for the clients, so the two men easily anticipated how the family wanted the house to take shape. “Our clients are very trusting people and definitely have a vision,” says Nicdao. “They don’t require many meetings.” Although Pembrooke & Ives is not an architectural firm, Nicdao had a say in both the home’s exterior and interior architecture. “We always say we’re not architects,” he says with a smile, “but we know enough about architecture to be dangerous.”
The collaboration with Hoffman was anything but dangerous. But at 10 bedrooms and 20,000 square feet, the house is just short of daunting. Because the rooms are large and the ceilings high, Nicdao found it necessary to customize many of the furnishings. “The most successful aspect of our work on this project,” he says, “is our having properly responded to the home’s sense of scale.” Fittingly enough (no pun intended), every table, sofa, and armchair is perfectly tailored to its space.
In the dining room, which soars a story and a half high, Nicdao clad the ceiling with white-oak boards that “warm up the room and visually make it more intimate.” He also designed a custom table of bleached walnut with inlaid stainless steel—so massive it’s reminiscent of an airport runway. Hanging above, domed lighting fixtures loom appropriately large, accessorized with metal gear-like embellishments. “The immediate family of five usually becomes a family of 15 on any given weekend,” Hoffman notes of the amply proportioned environs.
Nicdao is adept at playing with lighting fixtures for a little interior bling, notably in the entry, where an enormous chandelier with smoked-glass cylinders commands attention. (“I think of lighting fixtures as the jewelry of a room,” he says.) Throughout the home, the designer maintained a neutral palette, applying decorative plaster to monochromatic walls that make the clients’ art collection shine. “We presented the finished interiors to our clients in one big reveal,” the designer recalls, “but they’re always acquiring new pieces, which means that we’re still making changes to accommodate them. This house is one that’s ever evolving.”
The print version of this article appears with the headline: Heart of Glass.