An Elegant Amagansett Home
BY JAMES SERVIN
PHOTOGRAPHS BY ERIC STRIFFLER
The Michiels’ home has tin rooftops layered in a variety of heights. Pavers of alternating limestone and blue stone line the back patio.
“The first thing you see when you walk into this home is a milk glass chandelier in the dining room. It reminds me of sea shells,” says Chris Brown, who designed the five-bedroom Amagansett home with architect John Nolis and builder Kevin McFarland. “It sets the tone for the rest of the house. It’s glamorous, and that glamorous feeling is carried throughout the house, but in a more understated way.”
A once-humble cottage in the dunes of Amagansett has been made over into a tasteful showplace, bedecked with just enough glitter and shine to entice and delight.
“It’s totally my happy place,” says Debbie Michiels, who shares the home with her husband, Rob, a commodities trader, and their two children, Garrett and Emma, ages 9 and 13. “I look better and feel better here.” Brown describes his client, whom he’s known for 14 years, in glowing terms: “She’s extremely high-fashion glamour. I have a great relationship with Debbie and Rob. She’s my best friend.”
A Home Transformation
In fact, it was the two friends who found the summer home together and set about renovating it, reveling in the opportunity to give a faded beach fixture a total makeover. “When we first saw it, the house was like a crack den,” Michiels jokes. “It was hideous—a box within a box, like hatboxes stacked on top of each other,” says Brown about the home’s initial state. “We showed Debbie’s husband, Rob, a picture of it when we began the renovation. He looked at the photo and saw only a chimney standing. He said, ‘I thought we were just renovating.’ And Debbie and I said, ‘We are! But we had to leave the chimney.’”
The architect, builder and decorator (alongside landscaper Pete Barylski) thus transformed a standard four-bedroom cottage located at the edge of a wetlands preserve into a two-story, five-bedroom, five-bathroom home, carefully allocating the 2,800 square feet that local building codes had limited them to. An attic, with a raised ceiling, became an extra bedroom and bath—perfect for extra guests. A galley kitchen was granted an extra 800 square feet, expanded to a sleek, inviting family hub with sea-foam-green lacquered cabinets. “The idea was that they’d get their lunch from Round Swamp [Farm], come into the kitchen, spread the food around the island and then run back to the beach,” Brown says. “Notice the circles on the cabinet doors. There’s a pattern throughout the home of circular, wavy motion—from fabric design to furniture construction.”