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| July 10, 2013 | Culture
Gary DePersia, Eliza Gatfield, Gioia DiPaolo, Frederico Azevedo, John Berg, Michael Braverman, Vincent Ancona, and Michael Burner discuss the changing market for traditional and modern home styles.
61 Hands Creek, a modern residence in Bridgehampton, listed by Gary DePersia.
A modern manicured landscape by Frederico Azevedo’s Unlimited Earth Care.
Michael Braverman (left) and Gary DePersia discuss how technology allows homeowners to meld modern and traditional elements.
MICHAEL BRAVERMAN: Does what’s considered an “old” house in the real estate market have to be historic?
FREDERICO AZEVEDO: There are no old houses. There are houses that are badly maintained, and houses that have bad style, but it’s not like you can define what’s old and new. Sometimes what people think is old comes back in style, like beach bungalows.
GARY DEPERSIA: It’s in the mind of the buyer what an old house is. Their idea of an old house may be a turn-of-the-century cottage. When they talk about houses from the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s—which for the most part was not wonderful architecture—they don’t want to see that. That’s something that’s very often going to be a teardown or a total renovation.
MB: Go back to the 17th century, through today. What are the good and bad points of some of these various periods?
ELIZA GATFIELD: The history we have out here offers incredible opportunities for us to join old and new. We see that in some buildings that have been going up recently, where you have a great piece of antiquity and you tie into that a new structure that’s incredibly modern in its materiality and design. There’s a real beauty in that.
JOHN BERG: In every era, there are very, very good buildings, and they arguably never date. It’s poor imitations in those periods that actually date very quickly. It really comes down to the execution.
MB: The terms “old” and “new” may be a little misleading. Something that might have been built in the 1950s or 1960s we consider old, but it’s just dated. To me, the term “dated” means a lot more than a comparison between old and new.
EG: Many people want that traditional look and style, but really, when it comes down to it, they do not want to live in small spaces. They want things to be updated and modernized and very convenient. There’s a certain aesthetic that sustainable building practices require—when coupled with traditional motifs and building techniques, it will create a new kind of authenticity for shingle style in the Hamptons, which could be very interesting.
GD: People say, “I’d love a great old house,” and you show them something from the 1800s—something we call “turn of the century”—and their idea of that old house evaporates because the rooms are smaller, there’s less light, the ceilings are lower. All of a sudden their idea of this charming house changes, and they say, “Show me something newer.”
JB: A 1920s shingle-style bungalow might appeal to a buyer today in terms of its overall aesthetic, but then again it might not, due to the layout—small rooms, small windows. If there’s a new shingle-style bungalow, and the scale of the building is authentic to the design of the 1920s but the layout is more open, for a buyer today that’s going to feel authentic in terms of its design, and authentic in terms with the ways we live today.
MB: These comments about authenticity make me question original style. Is a new house in a period style a reproduction or original? And is Modernism really the only original style in the 21st century?
JB: The term “modern” is used very loosely to include basically all the new houses from the last 50 years that aren’t “traditional.” In terms of whether modern is the only new style, what is actually new is the building science that is used today—the energy-efficient construction methods: smaller boilers, lots of insulation, better windows and doors, some sort of mundane attributes combined with a lot of glass and open floor plans.
GD: One of the things we went up against when we were showing houses in the Hamptons the last 10 or 15 years was that the market was more or less trying to reproduce the earlier houses of the turn of the century—shingle-style houses where there were gambrel and gabled roofs, with some of the paneling and the molding work inside. And so now we have a lot of houses that look greatly the same. You take a buyer out and they see the same entryway, molding detail, same kitchens, bathrooms, layout—and they say, “What else do you have to show me?”
GIOIA DIPAOLO: When I started 17 years ago, there were a lot of houses that were built in the ’60s, ’70s, and early ’80s on the market, and no one wanted them. Everyone wanted the reproductions of the turn-of-the-century houses, which the builders were happy to provide, and are still providing. Today you see the modern houses being built, and they’re a whole different animal—better materials, layouts, ceiling heights, and much newer amenities. Sometimes they’re very modern houses, sometimes they’re what we call transitional houses, with elements of traditional and modern homes. Very often buyers pay a higher price per square foot for these modern houses than they do for their traditional brethren.
MB: Technology of today, the spacing in the homes, and the interior design have evolved based on many factors—energy efficiency, obviously, being a major piece. Are people starting to meld both modern and traditional to give us different types of homes?
VINCENT ANCONA: The Hamptons market is unique because it’s second or third homes. A lot of times we have an attitude in our home that we have to add certain traditional values in the decorations, but when you have a second or third home, it’s meant to be fun. It’s where you’re getting together with your family on the weekends, and where you don’t have to follow the rule book so much.
MICHAEL BURNER: The outdoor kitchen is becoming more and more popular; it seems to be almost a priority. From an architect’s standpoint, the kitchen is one of the first places that’s inspired in the design of a house, because you spend so much of your daytime hours there. What are also important are the transitional spaces between the kitchen and its adjacencies, and how one flows to the other.
FA: What makes a house stylish now is more to the outside, and that is either shingle or modern. You see through windows, you see through glass doors, and then you bring the outdoors inside. This is the real new style we have here in the Hamptons, modified from the other times.
MEET THE PANELISTS
photography by eric striffler (group); amanda switzer (61 hands creek); unlimited earth care (garden)