When an NYC-based couple came across a lackluster 1992 house in the Hamptons, it didn't look like much. The '90s aesthetic was dated, the ceilings were low, and the space lacked communal rooms and bedrooms. But this didn't deter them from purchasing the house as a weekend escape for them and their three children. After all, the house had privacy, was perfectly located in a wooded area of Amagansett, and offered the perfect respite from city life.
To transform this dated space into a light and airy four-bedroom beach house the whole family could enjoy, they called on Jessica Helgerson and Chelsie Lee at JHID. See how they transformed the space into a dreamy, light-drenched beach house.
"The owners purchased the home for the amazing location and privacy that the property offered, but they weren't in love with the '90s aesthetic of the home," Helgerson told us. "They had dreams of creating a stylish, cozy haven away from the city."
"We had many goals for the project, but at the top of the list was creating a functional floor plan that allowed for more bedrooms, more bathrooms, and had plenty of spaces for reading, relaxing, and visiting," says the designer. She worked with Josh Weiselberg and Selin Semaan at TBD Architecture in Manhattan and Przemek Kepczynski of Whole House Contracting in East Hampton, New York, to complete the renovations.
The original layout underutilized the square footage, only had two bedrooms and just a tiny dining room, while simultaneously having a massive double-height entry and oversized living room. "We dramatically reorganized the spaces and created a lofted sitting area above the entry and absorbed a screened-in porch into the footprint (where the kitchen now is)," explains Helgerson.
"We wanted the home to reflect the stylish clients and become a cozy backdrop to their weekend visits where they like to swim, read, watch movies, and be a family," says the designer.
The house's palette is very restrained: pale wood, white painted wood, handmade white tile, marble, and brass. "We bleached the original oak floors, added wood planks and beams to the ceilings, and kept a minimal Scandinavian approach to all new millwork and cabinetry," explains the designer.
"We were nervous about adding wood and beams to the already pretty low ceilings on the first floor, concerned that would make them feel even lower," says the designer. "But we found that once the ceilings had texture and interest, you didn't mind being so close to them. That was the probably the single best move we made in making the house feel warm and full of character—getting rid of expansive Sheetrock ceilings."
"We were inspired by both cozy Scandinavian retreats and Australian beach homes," explains the designer. "Natural materials like wood, ceramic, leather, and wool shaped our neutral palette."
"We try not to have a personal style that we apply to projects but rather respond to existing architecture, the setting, and the people occupying the space and respond with an appropriate style for each project," says Helgerson. "In this case, the house itself lacked its original character to run with, but the setting and clients evoked a minimal, stylish, and bright environment."
"Though we kept the palette restrained, the addition of natural leather, handmade ceramic tiles, nubby wools, and natural wood added warmth and an organic quality to the mix," says Helgerson.
"The clients are stylish and cool—we were inspired by their personal taste when selecting furniture, lighting, and art," says the designer. "It is a mix of trendier modern pieces and timeless Scandinavian pieces."
The most challenging aspect of this project was getting the exterior to be more attractive. "To be really frank, this house was not an architectural gem in any way, and the exterior elevations were really pretty unattractive," says Helgerson. "But by making a few key moves—repainting it all white, adding a front porch, and changing some windows—we were able to get them to a much better place, and the before-and-after is almost unrecognizable. "