May 31, 2017

Laura Michaels Balances Luxury with Organic Finds in a Sag Harbor Beach House

A mix of supple and down-to-earth materials and finishes creates a colorful, luxurious sense of sophistication in a Sag Harbor beach house.

by Jorge S. Arango photographer Costas Picadas architecture Laura Michaels


I wanted to use the house year-round," says Rori Goldin of the Sag Harbor vacation home she shares with her husband David and teenage daughter Skyler, "so I didn't want to walk into it in December and see a bunch of seashells."

Further, recalls her Armonk-based designer, Laura Michaels, "Because they have a huge network of friends out there and entertain every weekend, it had to be more on the glamourous side." That did not mean cue the glitz, however. Says Goldin, "It's the difference between couture and buying something at the mall. It's how I dress. I like some sparkle, but I don't want to look like I'm in a show in Vegas."

Accomplishing these objectives wouldn't be simple. "It was a new house with pretty small rooms and not a lot of wonderful architectural detail," explains Michaels. "I needed to make those rooms more exciting and also make them look larger." Step One? Rethink moldings and trim—adding where the space could take the extra oomph, removing where it only served to accent a space's modest proportions. She also designed built-in bookcases for the office and family rooms and gave them the deluxe treatment; the office millwork is bathed in multiple layers of swanky teal lacquer, while the family room's cerused oak cabinetry is inset with metallic python-patterned linen. Both finishes exude a deep, mellow glow rather than a blingy, blinding mirror polish.

Step Two: "I balanced the luxuriousness with more organic things," observes Michaels. In the master bedroom—uncharacteristically large by comparison—that translated into "an eel skin wallcovering with a bit of pearlescence that fills the space," juxtaposed with a high-texture shag carpet. The kitchen table's beachy looking whitewashed wood is accented with brass straps. The lacquered office millwork contrasts with a seagrass carpet dyed the same teal and a grasscloth wallcovering.

Finally, Michaels played with scale. "The family room is probably 22 feet long and 13 feet wide," she says. "The sofas are 110 inches long and pretty much dominate the room, but because they're chaise-style, with arms only on one side, it's not too much." An enormous chandelier functions similarly in the foyer, imparting a sense of generous proportion.

Michaels apparently got it just right. "There's not a room in my house that's not my favorite," concludes Goldin.

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