Before & After: A Dated Hamptons Home Is Now a Luminous Retreat

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By Jennifer Baum Lagdameo
Brooklyn–based practice Isaac-Rae reimagines an outdated beach house in as a modern year-round second home for a family of four.

When Clay and Margot Coffey, the husband/wife team behind the architecture firm Isaac-Rae, were approached to spruce up a 1987 beach house in Watermill—a hamlet of Southampton—their clients were only looking to give the dated abode a fresher, more modern look. 

Yet, due to several disjointed revamps the home had already undergone throughout the years, along with significant water damage that had affected the structure's framing, it was determined that a ground-up renovation was needed. After reconfiguring the layout, the design duo was ultimately able to reimagine the residence and expand the home for more comfortable, modern living. Take a look at the fascinating "before" and "after" images below.

Before: The Exterior 

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A look at the original exterior of the home. The volume on the far right with the chimney is the only original portion of the house that was kept. The rest of the home was treated to a ground-up renovation. 

A look at the original exterior of the home. The volume on the far right with the chimney is the only original portion of the house that was kept. The rest of the home was treated to a ground-up renovation. 

Fortunately, the home was well situated and private, as it was tucked off a quiet road, spread across almost two acres of land. Inspired by these surroundings, Isaac-Rae created a beautiful natural landscape and then devised how to bring some of the outdoors in—opening up the home and adding light and breath to the formerly dark spaces.

After: The Exterior

The boxy, contemporary new facade was completely restructured. 

The boxy, contemporary new facade was completely restructured. 

"The relationship between high-quality living space and nature was key in our design process," explains Coffey. "We aimed to create an elegant and private natural landscape and framed it from every vantage point possible within the home. We totally re-envisioned the geometry of the house and the indoor/outdoor space."

Essentially, the entrance was kept in the same spot, with the chimney to the far right side. 

Essentially, the entrance was kept in the same spot, with the chimney to the far right side. 

In the end, the renovation increased the home's square footage from 4,000 square feet to 5,300 square feet—turning the original three-bedroom, three bath-property into a five-bedroom, seven bath home, and expanding the floor-to-ceiling ratio of all the rooms.

Before: The Side Yard Exterior 

Before, the home felt disjointed from multiple random renovations. Additionally, the siding and the roof of the home were in poor condition due to water damage. 

Before, the home felt disjointed from multiple random renovations. Additionally, the siding and the roof of the home were in poor condition due to water damage. 

After: The Side Yard Exterior 

Here is the same view after the renovation. The upper left-hand corner became the master bedroom and the mahogany box (where the original master bedroom was) became a child's room. 

Here is the same view after the renovation. The upper left-hand corner became the master bedroom and the mahogany box (where the original master bedroom was) became a child's room. 

Before: The Back View 

The exterior space was closed off, which helped contribute to the home's dark interiors.

The exterior space was closed off, which helped contribute to the home's dark interiors.

After: The Back View

Collapsing walls were added to expand the open-plan living space on the main floor. This extended the space into an outdoor deck, which can now be enjoyed all summer long.

Collapsing walls were added to expand the open-plan living space on the main floor. This extended the space into an outdoor deck, which can now be enjoyed all summer long.

The backyard was terraced and the pool was redesigned. It went from a 14'x36' standard pool to a 18'x50' saltwater gunite structure with a hot tub terraced above it.

The backyard was terraced and the pool was redesigned. It went from a 14'x36' standard pool to a 18'x50' saltwater gunite structure with a hot tub terraced above it.

In the living room, the ceilings were vaulted, which now adds to the bright and airy feeling of the open-plan layout.

In the living room, the ceilings were vaulted, which now adds to the bright and airy feeling of the open-plan layout.

The glass entryway of the home opens straight into the living room. 

The glass entryway of the home opens straight into the living room. 

A bright modern kitchen was added to meet the specifications of a family that loves to cook. A large pantry was added to help keep the kitchen clutter-free. 

A bright modern kitchen was added to meet the specifications of a family that loves to cook. A large pantry was added to help keep the kitchen clutter-free. 

The surrounding grounds were re-landscaped to create even more privacy and garden views from the house, as well as around the tennis court and pools. 

The surrounding grounds were re-landscaped to create even more privacy and garden views from the house, as well as around the tennis court and pools. 

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Isaac-Rae Studio

Builder/General Contractor: Charles Gallanti Inc.

Structural Engineer: John Condon

Landscape Design: Isaac-Rae Studio

Lighting Design: Isaac-Rae Studio

Cabinetry Design: Isaac-Rae Studio