March 6, 2015

Designers Mary Foley and Michael Cox Take on a Hamptons Beach House

While newly constructed, this Hamptons house exudes a sense of history, warmth, and home.

by Arlene Hirst interior designer Foley & Cox Interior Design photographer Mark Roskams architecture Joseph Cerami Architecture


What better way to lure your grown children to come for a visit than to get a beach house? That was the plan of this Brookville, LI, couple who went hunting in the Hamptons to find a place that would suit them, their three kids, and a grandchild. They found the perfect spot-an unremarkable '70s house between Southampton and Sag Harbor. While it was not in mint condition, its strong appeal was that it was right on the water. They knew it would need extensive renovation, but soon discovered that the entire structure would have to be torn down. "Clients are almost never prepared for this," says Mary Foley, partner in Foley&Cox Interior Design, who with architect Joseph Cerami and B.K. Kuck Construction teamed up to turn the house from tragedy to triumph.

After the initial shock, the project turned into an upbeat one, with everyone involved, including the client, whose daughter had interned in the Foley&Cox office the year before. Cox says that since it was a second collaboration-her firm worked on the renovation of the clients' Brookville home-it made the process much friendlier and more fun.

The new structure has five bedrooms upstairs, each with its own bathroom, as well as a powder room on the first floor. There's also a full basement, which is now a game room.

The interiors are an ode to beach living. The upholstery fabrics are all waterproof for indoor/outdoor use, as are the rugs. Most of the windows face the water-in the original house, none did. The entryway leads directly into a big open space of living room/kitchen, lined with windows and dressed in a graphic black-and-white palette. The family room, directly behind the living area, is done in seaside tones of blues and greens. The furniture is a cheerful mix of styles, says Cox, including '40s French, mid-century Danish, modern sculpture, and African textiles-a slightly bohemian and overall casually collected vibe, he says. "We were able to shop at Clignancourt in Paris for wonderful little elements that would instantly give the newly constructed house a sense of history, warmth, and home."

"It's not meant to look decorated," Foley adds. "It's a wonderful place. You can kayak from the front door."