A Respectfully Renovated Horace Gifford Beach House on Fire Island Asks $1.8M

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By Melissa Dalton / Published by Dwell
Architect Horace Gifford (1932-1992) is regarded as a pioneer in modern beach architecture, having designed 70 homes across Fire Island from the 1960s until the 1980s.

His designs, characterized by weathered wood, expansive glass, and modest footprints, embraced the beauty of their natural settings. He was quoted as saying, "Someday we will learn to live with nature, instead of living on nature." For this respectful renovation of a 1964 Gifford home on Fire Island just south of Long Island, New York, the architects kept that ethos in mind. Now, the three-bedroom, two-bath residence is available for $1,895,000.  

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The firm, DAS Studio Architects of New York City, describe the house as being a 37' x 37' square divided internally into three zones. These were a living/dining/kitchen area facing the water, a central core of bathrooms and closets, and three bedrooms directed inland. A floating catwalk and open riser steps connect the living area to the bedrooms and bathroom core, which are set at a higher elevation. Therefore, upon exiting each bedroom, one is greeted with expansive views of the water. 

The renovation addressed the cramped and dated bathrooms, a tightly-enclosed kitchen that was cut off from the rest of the space, and deftly incorporated a pool for a more robust treatment of indoor/outdoor living.

The new kitchen, a modest and unadorned Bulthaup design with grey counters, is now open to the living space and ready for informal gatherings. The architects write: "We were all convinced that an open kitchen would not just function better but also add to the purity and symmetry of the space—a concept on which the house design was based." The bathrooms were enlarged by borrowing space from underused closets, then finished with dark gray and off-white porcelain tiles and modern fixtures. 

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The bay-side deck was then rebuilt to integrate a swimming pool. To do so, the architects created a series of stepped platforms that descend to meet the beach. These platforms offer a variety of spots to lounge and take in the view, while also reinforcing the house's original "terraced" design that begins at the bedrooms. The pool liner was chosen so that the new pool would seem to blend with the water on the horizon—effectively merging the building and beach in the spirit of Gifford's original design.

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For more information, check out the listing for 257 Bay Walk here.

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