Step Inside a Sleek Water Mill Family Home
A house comprising two complementary pavilions is made for modern living.
The striking cedar-clad house featured here is a masterful modern take on the Hamptons vernacular—the homeowners, a young professional couple who were anticipating starting a family, had purchased a property in Water Mill and were looking for someone to build a vacation home for them there. They happened upon the Instagram account of interior designer Victoria Stokes and her husband, contractor Tom Schultz, founders of a two-pronged design/build firm consisting of Third Way Atelier (Stokes’s design arm) and Third Way Construction (Schultz’s bailiwick). “We prefer working together on projects,” says Stokes, “so this collaboration was our dream scenario.”
The prospective clients shot Third Way a DM: “Can we talk?” The couples met, and Schultz “scratched his first idea for the house on a napkin,” recalls Stokes. The sketch was enough to seal the deal, and Stokes and Schultz, who live in nearby Sagaponack, brought Manhattan-based architect Bailey Humbert Heck onboard, having worked successfully with him in the past. Before they got to building, however, the team needed to address the small 19th-century house that remained on the lot. “It was long abandoned and beyond repair,” says Schultz. “But we harvested the wood that wasn’t rotten or termite-eaten to reuse in the new structure,” Heck adds.
The plan, says Stokes, “was to build a house that looks like it might have been there for years, and then give the clients everything they wanted inside.” The project took some inspiration from the Herzog & de Meuron-designed Parrish Art Museum, famed for its long silhouette mimicking the low-slung potato barns once common on the East End. “The lot is shallow and faces a main road,” adds Heck, “so what we tried to do with the house was to keep stepping up the privacy factor from front to back.”
The new residence consists of two wings, the larger of which is 150 feet long and comprises a living/dining/kitchen “great room” accented by some of the reclaimed beams from the original house, as well as a screened porch, den, and guest suite. The smaller wing, which can be completely closed off by a pocket door, contains the primary suite on the ground floor and two kids’ rooms upstairs. Including the basement, where a rec room, wine cellar, gym, and additional guest rooms can be found, the six-bedroom house measures 8,100 square feet.
Construction began in May 2020, so now-familiar supply-chain issues became a factor. But talent and ingenuity helped keep the house on schedule and on budget. Instead of purchasing expensive baseboards, Schultz had the idea of employing shiplap, which covers the great room’s ceiling. “I just reversed it,” he says, “using the tongue in place of a cap molding.” Not that the house stints on luxury flourishes, however: Custom millwork and Venetian plaster on bathroom walls add elegant grace notes, and the neutral furnishings are soft and comfortable. Stokes used a lot of velvet and bouclé, all of it washable and stain resistant, and went for a “good high/low mix” for the more substantial pieces in the home. “I love Monc XIII and 1stdibs,” she says, “but I’ll buy anything that’s pretty if it’s well made.” It’s a good thing she likes to shop, as the clients had their first baby before moving in and have had a second since, and a new nursery was definitely in order.
The print version of this article appears with the headline: Double Vision.