AN INSIDE LOOK INTO THE WORLD OF INTERIOR DESIGN AND DECORATING IN THE HAMPTONS
BY JENNIFER MABLEY AND AUSTIN HANDLER OF MABLEY HANDLER INTERIOR DESIGN

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Saturday in Amagansett: Clients & Corn

If you're a designer in the Hamptons, you're going to be working Saturdays, there's no two ways about it. The fact is, most of our clients don't live out here year-round, so we meet with them when they come out, which is usually on the weekends. If you don't like that, then you're in the wrong business (or living in the wrong place!).

We've made peace with the fact that we work a six-day work week...So we jumped in the car this morning and headed to Amagansett (13 miles away, yet a good 30-45 minute drive in summer Hamptons traffic) to meet with clients that have a small ranch-style house on Hedges Lane, right in town. This is a new project for us, but these are old clients from the J. Mabley Custom Furniture store days, and they contacted us to help them make their summer house more functional for them and their five children. At our first meeting last month we only talked about interior furnishings, and possibly renovating the dated 60's era bathrooms down the road...But we had been stewing over something ever since that meeting, and it had to do with the words "small ranch" and "five children" not working well together in the same sentence!

The house has three small bedrooms: A master bedroom, a boys room (bunk beds for the two boys), and a girls room (bunk beds for the two girls, and a crib for the baby)...Close quarters at the best of times. It's fine when the family is out of the house at the beach, but on a rainy day, everyone is on top of each other and things can get a little nuts. These guys need some breathing space! What's the point of having a weekend getaway house if you're can't relax and enjoy it? So, we brought in our friend Triff, a local builder and all-around good guy, to meet with us and our clients and discuss how to give them a little more room and make their house a place where they can actually relax in their own space (without breaking the budget).

They have about a half-acre of land, and they plan to add a pool as well, so there really isn't much room to expand out...So, it looks like we're heading upwards. What we are weighing now is whether to put on an entire second floor, or incorporate the existing roof line and punch in some gables and dormers. Building an entire second floor yields the most square footage, but the cost is much higher than working with the current roof line (several hundred thousands of dollars, to put it roughly). Adding a couple of gables in the front of the house, and perhaps some shed dormers in the back of the house will give them nearly as much square footage, but for less money.

Either way, the Town of East Hampton's Building Department is going to require them to bring all of their electric and plumbing up to code (which is standard whenever you're looking to come anywhere near to doubling the total square footage of a house). And then there is the new septic system that will have to go in to accommodate the additional bedrooms (and the bathrooms that come along with that), and possibly undergrounding the electric coming in off the pole (which currently hangs right through their front yard, as though someone with a death wish was going to hang laundry on it). It's the classic renovation "can of worms," but if they want to gain more living space and increase the potential resale value of their home, this is the perfect time to do it. Better to deal with it now while they go through the pain period of a renovation, rather than have to return to these same issue down the road, just when they're starting to feel settled.

Next up, we'll bring in an architect to start sketching options for the exterior front and back of the house. In the meantime, we didn't want to waste a trip out to Amagansett without visiting the Amagansett Farmers Market, so we popped in there on our way home and scored some fresh local corn. The corn crops in the Hamptons are around waist-high right now, so in this instance "local" refers to the North Fork. But considering the horse corn that we've had to make do with up until now, we can live with that :)

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