Two Homes in One on Old Montauk Highway
by mike olson
With two separate homes in one, this Montauk compound is something to be admired
Stand on the edge of the bluff, and you can see clear down the beach to the point of Montauk, the sound of crashing waves 75 feet below providing the soundtrack to the most stunning view imaginable. “It is quite extraordinary,” say Paul Brennan of Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate. “You’re up so high that you can see forever.” However, the real head turner may just be behind you, where the main and guest homes on this double lot create a compound nearly as spectacular as the Atlantic.
Inspired by the California modern houses of the ’40s and ’50s, 230 Old Montauk Highway is two separate homes in one—7,500 combined square feet built to the most exacting standards imaginable. The low-slung, single-story main house comprises 5,000 square feet, which, despite its generous size, is all but impossible to see from the beach below.
Like everything on this property, there’s more to it than meets the eye, as the main house actually consists of two L-shaped wings. One, a glass pavilion closer to the beach, invites the outside in with massive, steel-framed windows, creating a feel not unlike a Manhattan loft. Meanwhile, the other wing relies on warmer materials (brick, wood, and tile) and fireplaces to create cozier spaces. “That contrast was deliberate,” explains James Biber, the architect who designed the space. “They really represent the two different aspects to life. Not everyone wants to live in a glass house all the time.”
No one wants to live on top of their guests, either, so Biber solved that problem by creating a separate, two-bedroom guesthouse—described as the main house’s disjointed second story—on the other side of the property. Given such a rare opportunity, Biber let his imagination run wild. “We had gotten a lot of the programmatic needs out of the way once we built the main house,” says Biber, “so the guesthouse became more like sitting at the kids’ table at Thanksgiving. It’s a lot more fun.”
The result is unlike anything else on the East End, a playful building reminiscent of a midcentury shore hotel, right down to the continuous oceanfront balcony that affords breathtaking views in three directions. “The balcony is an integral part of how you use the house,” says Biber. “We thought, Wouldn’t it be nice if people had to go outside to get to their rooms just like a motel? Why not?’”
Still, there’s a practicality to the structure. Not only does the elongated shape act as a privacy fence (Biber even waited to finish designs until construction was completed on the empty lot next door), but its floating design creates a shaded porch for a heated infinity pool. “It goes underneath the guesthouse, which is a little unusual,” admits Brennan, though Biber had his reasons. “You use a pool for three, maybe four months if you’re lucky,” he explains. “To make it the centerpiece and have to just look at it the rest of the year seemed like an odd choice.”
Instead, tucking the pool nearer the guesthouse acts as a framing device to this gorgeous property, creating, in essence, a courtyard between the two homes that was inspired by an Italian palazzo. “This is such a spectacular site, and we wanted to create an outdoor space that took advantage of that view,” says Biber. “Having two buildings really let us define the space between them.”
This view can only be found in Montauk, a hamlet undoubtedly on the rise. In fact, Brennan, who has sold nearby properties to such boldfaced names as Jann Wenner and J.Crew CEO Mickey Drexler, is confident this is the East End’s next hot spot. “It’s being rediscovered,” says Brennan, who points to the area’s nearby airport and abundance of reserve land. “Ten years ago, nobody wanted to be in Sagaponack. Who knew it would become the most expensive zip code in the country?”
Add it all up and it’s no surprise that everyone who tours this $19.5 million property leaves amazed. But architect Biber knows that it will take a special buyer to call 230 Old Montauk Highway home. “Some people would much rather retreat to what everyone else has,” he explains. “This is such a great environment to live in, but it’s not a passive partner. It has its own personality.” Still, one potential resident does come to mind. “I’ve designed a lot of houses, and this might be the only one that I can see myself in,” says Biber. “I would love to live there.” Paul Brennan, Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate, 2488 Main St., Bridgehampton, 235-9611
photography by MICHAEL HELLER