A Hilltop Home in Orient
BY JAMES SERVIN
PHOTOGRAPHS BY ERIC STRIFFLER
A family portrait on the Sound side of the home (FROM LEFT): Lily, Carolina, Nicholas and Sophie. The girls’ dresses are by Baby CZ.
As the daughter of acclaimed furniture designer Otto Zapf, Carolina Zapf grew up in an environment of rarefied style. Her family’s Japanese-inspired home, constructed of wood and glass on stilts with a Bauhaus-flavored interior, was located 20 minutes outside Frankfurt, Germany, on a street of traditional German houses. “People would walk up to our house and touch it, because it was so unusual,” says Carolina, a celebrated designer in her own right, whose charming, well-constructed children’s clothing lines, CZ and Baby CZ, will be followed this fall by a women’s line, Carolina Zapf Cashmere. (She is hosting trunk shows for Carolina Zapf Cashmere in East Hampton and Southampton this August.)
Today Carolina lives in yet another extraordinary home. For the past seven years, she and husband John Josephson, managing director of privately held investment bank Allen & Co., and their three children (Lily, 10, and twins Nicholas and Sophie, 7) have been spending summer and winter weekends in one of the most revered residences on the North Fork. Perched atop of a hill with a view of the Long Island Sound on one side and Gardiners Bay on the other, the shingled, Boston Ivy-covered 11-room Orient retreat is perfectly placed for (choose any or all of the following, on any given day) entertaining, fishing, sailing, playing tennis or relaxing on the private beach.
Whatever the occasion, the super-efficient, gracious lady of the house has everything under control. “A beach barbecue with Carolina is a fantastic experience,” says her friend Eve MacSweeney, features director of Vogue. “She packs light but will roll out tables with cloths and little bouquets of flowers. She lights a fire, sets up a grill and does it all impeccably. She pulls it off because she has real style, a flair for enjoying the summer life of the North Fork.”
Carolina has summered in Orient for a good part of her life, flying in from Germany since the age of 14. Her father designed a four-bedroom shingled glass beach house overlooking the Sound for his family, but he sold it 12 years ago, right around the time Carolina met Joseph. “I liked Orient and wanted to continue to summer here,” says Carolina, “but my husband and I also explored other options.”
The couple looked at property upstate and nearly bought a 1700s farmhouse in Hudson. But when the Orient house landed on the market, they both instantly fell in love—as did patriarch Otto. “My father does not like old things too much,” says Carolina, “but he loves this home.”
Built in the late 19th century, the house was originally a genteel, solitary waterfront presence owned by the Birdseye family, of Birds Eye frozen foods. “They used to own the entire side of Orient,” says Carolina. “There was just this house, another one and pasture. In the early 1900s, the home was redone in the Arts and Crafts style and extended.” Angled for optimum light and views, it has a kitchen suffused with morning sun and a porch that looks out to a lighthouse and tennis courts located on the six-acre property. Windows offer perfect cross-ventilation, so there is no need for air-conditioning. “Being in the house often reminds us of being on a ship,” says Carolina. “We are on top of a hill, and it gets windy.”