Around five years ago in a small spit of land off Long Island South Coast, a young couple in New York City — a real estate broker and bond trader— wanted the beach holiday home on Fire Island to be spent on the summer summers of his youth. They found a wooden cabin, which was built somewhere in the 1950s with an architecturally distinct design and whose biggest asset was its position on the seafront. It was just 1,400 square feet, a couple of young children did not seem appropriate. They purchased it in order to make radical changes and to tear them down, if necessary, and to restore them
It was a massive project, but there was no need for the pair to waste time seeking somebody they trusted to take it on. The spouse became great friends at Wesleyan University in Connecticut with Alexandra Angle, and they had stayed close after college. Angle had gone on to be a effective interior designer, and she had been joyfully hired by the couple to model their Manhattan and upstate New York home. It was a no-brainer to ask her to change their house in Fire Island
In February 2010, the couple purchased the house. They requested Angle and other interior designers to render it liveable in the fall to benefit from the remainder of the season on the beach, in which they would take the next step, they felt, to experience a full renovation or a recession. But it’s never the next step. Angle’s changes so satisfied the community that they gave their old house an indefinite rest.
It was a struggle to have the house ready for vacation in just three months – and to stop spending the money on what was meant to be a temporary fix. “This was all just easy,” says Angle. “We just wanted it to be comfortable, relatively simple and a little bit low-key.”
Angle used color as her non-sacred weapon, using it strategically on her white wall canvas and ceilings, using a sunny-high palette which transformed the once dwelling into a visual festival. Her inspiration was a visit to Honolulu to the Bernice Pauahi Bishops ‘ Museum, where she saw the beautiful kāhili feather standards.
The main living area has floor to ceiling windows giving a broad view of the ocean. Angle refreshed the constructed-in banquettes around the boundary of the hallway with Liberty fabric, purchasing rolls of extra yard knowing that beach houses are getting a lot of wear and tear, and that the pads would finally have to be covered again.
The piano was left by the former owners of the house and was freshly painted white when Angle had it flanking it with Källemo chairs and a floor lamp that matched the chair lines. A medicinal chest hanging over the piano is a restaurant, a custom designed and produced by Angle. For cool, rainy days it is important for a wood-burning oven of Antonio Citterio with Toan Nguyen, and the nest chair of Tropicalia Cocoon by Patricia Urquiola adds a whimsical twist for Moroso. “Children love it,” said Angle.
The kitchen required no major intervention; Angle simply removed all doors of the cabinet and adorned the interior with a beautiful red, replacing the fridge, stove and countertop. For the floors of the entire house, she chose linoleum by Armstrong–a comfortable and economical option for a beach house. The tiles are set in a painted orange and blank pattern in the kitchen.
The kitchen is lined with Bertoia seats surrounding a Kartell table, as a comparison across all white. The one art on the wall is a picture by the Dutch painter Leo de Goede.
In the dark Room, Angle continued the color story with a shades that contrasted with the palette of the room beyond, painting the doors which led to each of the four bedrooms. The bedrooms are all simple and mostly white, with lively linens, accessories and lighting that add colour. The kids share a living room and a playroom.
The restrooms, with dilapidated fixtures displaying their age and rusty water stains, needed the most attention. Angle retained the original plumbing, but relocated partitions, and installed new fixtures. All toilets now have tile flooring with bright stripes.
The family loves and reveals that they enjoy their beach sanctuary; the house looks as good as it was when Angle finished 5 years ago. The initial plan might be an upgrade, but it seems not to be in the future.