For homeowners Roula and Fotis, the completion of their modern residence on the North Shore of Long Island marked the end of a long journey. Although they both grew up in New York City, the couple desired more space for their two sons to freely roam and enjoy the outdoors. Yet, the couple’s plan was never to build a new structure but rather renovate a French-style one that existed on the property. That all changed when, just weeks before they were to move, a devastating fire destroyed the home, leaving them to consider a completely new plan.
That’s when THE UP STUDIO stepped in and convinced the couple to rebuild with a design that literally centers around nature. "We initially talked with Roula and Fotis about our idea to use their property, which was lush with landscaping, to engage the architecture," says architect John Patrick Winberry. The core idea was to rotate the back of the home ninety degrees, designing the main living spaces around an L-shaped corner. "The change gave us an opportunity to follow the path of the sun, allowing it to interact with the interior," he adds.
Throughout the main living spaces, large windows and doors overlook a sparkling pool and picturesque greenery—enhancing the views from every room and creating a stronger connection with the outdoors. "We selected Marvin for the windows and doors because they gave us the most flexibility," comments Winberry. "The front of the house makes historical references, while the back makes more modern gestures. To be able to use one manufacturer and one line to address the duality of our design was a great benefit."
"Our vision for the house was more of a feeling," explains Roula. "We wanted an indoor-outdoor feel, with lots of light coming through." The final design relies on expansive fenestration to create the atmosphere Roula imagined. For instance, the bright and airy master bedroom features a wall of windows overlooking the backyard. "The windows are an ever-changing piece of art," she says. "At first I wanted shades, but then I realized how beautiful it was to wake up with the sun and look outside every morning."
"We have two active boys who love to run around, and the way THE UP STUDIO designed this home allows us to be who we are without even thinking about it," says Fotis. "The windows as part of the design were helpful in letting us achieve that continuous flow."
For all that they love about the design of their new home, the surrounding nature is what made the couple want to rebuild. "After the fire happened, we went there to assess the situation, but everyone told us they could not salvage anything," says Roula. "We asked ourselves if we should just pick up, leave, and buy another house, but we really did love it here," adds Fotis.
Winberry recalls a similar sentiment at the beginning of the project: "We came at a time when they did not want to be starting from scratch," he says. "Yet, we felt there was a beautiful opportunity to do something new and fresh; to build them something from the ground up that would address their growing family."
In the end, the long process seems worth it. "When we lived in Manhattan, [our lives] were about doing everything together or nothing at all," recalls Roula. "Here, we all have a lot more freedom." Fotis agrees and adds: "It’s like a big game every day. We get to run around, jump around, and I hear my kids laughing all day. That’s really the best reward."
General Contractor: Peconic Development
Landscape Architect: Bayview Landscape Architecture
Site & Civil Engineer: Northcoast Civil