When clients initially approached architect Paul Masi, of the Sag Harbor, N.Y.-based firm Bates Masi Architects, about doing some work on the Bridgehampton property they had owned for nearly a decade, the talk was of a thorough renovation of the existing structure. According to Masi, "they loved the location, but the house just didn't suit them anymore," and while his firm relishes the opportunity to renovate and "design a dialogue between the old and new," Masi and the clients soon discovered that "to the extent that they wanted to change it, it was not much more just to do a new house." The result—named Sam's Creek after the inlet of Mecox Bay—is a gorgeous, minimalist summer home that has garnered multiple awards, including one from Interior Design last year and another from the AIA.
? The clients' businesses had grown considerably in the nine years since they purchased the property, and the existing house was no longer suited to both their growing family and their need for entertaining professionally—one of the pair owns a big NYC-based PR firm. "They spoke about the house as a place that would really organize how they live," says Masi, who responded by creating "programmed boxes" that "nest together," but could also be used independently, too. To create a sense of privacy—neighbors' houses sit close on both sides—Masi made sure the side façades are "virtually opaque," while the front and rear façades are proudly glass.
? Materials are a central focus of the design: mahogany for the floors, walls, and ceilings, all laid in the same direction to "frame the views," accentuate the perspective, and "project [the viewer] into the landscape"; travertine stone for the flooring tile, exterior siding, interior accents, and countertops; and bronze and leather as accents.
? The centerpiece of the entertaining area, featuring plenty of bronze, is a towering, paneled fireplace that also serves as a coat closet and skylight. Designed around a "moment frame"—a structural support used to "hold the house down in high winds or hurricane conditions," Masi explains—the sculptural element at once serves as both a visual and mechanical focal point that creates as "serene atmosphere," he says. "When you pull this piece apart, you have an individual fireplace, and then a skylight, and then a separate coat closet, and a separate steel frame, it becomes cumbersome. What we were doing was reducing the number of elements, to make it as simple as possible."
? Inside the streamlined master bedroom, leather was put to use as a floor-to-ceiling headboard. Inspired by the "mix of casual and formal" at the Jean-Michel Gathy-designed Aman Resort in the Turks and Caicos—where Masi and his clients had traveled independently, as luck would have it—the bedroom has a smaller scale than the public areas of the house. Masi is particularly proud of the way the house "jumps scales," providing the client with "these big open spaces with a lot of glass [and] these small, more intimate spaces."
? In the kitchen "box," a travertine backsplash—the stone was cut very thin and mounted at an angle on purpose-designed clips—scatters light from a light well, in the place of an ordinary range hood, and "bring[s] some of the exterior material inside," says Masi.
? While Masi, who cut his teeth working for starchitect Richard Meier, doesn't seem to share his mentor's famous obsession with white, he does admire the modern master's practice of developing "a strategy that applies to the overall house." And if the pièce de résistance is that massive fireplace, the idea of multifunction pervades other elements of the space. The stainless steel kitchen island is transformative, as well: two rolling bar carts are tucked beneath, and built-in cutting boards slide on countertop tracks and "uncover slots for recycling and garbage."