It's not entirely uncommon, particularly in beach towns, for buyers to purchase a home specifically for the property. But the Babcock family takes this one step further. At their waterfront Sag Harbor home, everything, from purchasing the land to designing the rooms to entertaining friends, was—and is—done with nature in mind.
First, explains Allison Babcock, "my husband is a real weather and water aficionado, so he figured out the best direction to face when you're on the water. Then, we wanted something with a bulkhead, and something with preexisting structure because it's easier for permits."
When he spotted a property that fit the bill on a run one morning (the family was living just a few blocks away at the time), he and Allison called the owner and asked if he'd be interested in selling. "Over a cup of coffee," they made a deal, and Allison set about planning a new family home.
Despite the fact that the Babcock's former home had been, "very traditional," Allison says, they didn't want to replicate that style here. "We wanted traditional roof lines but we wanted something that was open, so that you could, you know, see where you are outside while you're inside."
When Allison first brought up fellow Hamptons resident Blaze Makoid, her husband initially balked at his super-modern style. But after a few rounds of planning, the couple and architect came up with a concept of a modern barn that married old and new while remaining centered (quite literally) on the landscape.
The home's entrance is fairly unassuming, but upon stepping through the door, visitors are immediately greeted with views of the water ahead and a courtyard and pool to the left. Babcock and Makoid positioned the home so that the living space, kitchen, and dining areas are essentially surrounded by the outdoors. The kitchen faces the courtyard on one side and the water on the other, while the living room is the division between the two. A series of folding windows opens the living room up to the patio, where a long table is host to many al fresco dinners, either cooked on the neighboring grill, or in the kitchen just inside.
"I'm very spur-of-the-moment when I entertain," Allison says. "It's you know, come on over, we'll have vegetables from the farm stand, we'll have fish." Plus, the indoor-outdoor setup makes for lots of interesting after-dinner activities, too: "In the summer, we can project movies on the outside of the fireplace of the chimney, and turn the heat up in the pool and watch from there," she says. In winters, they'll light the fireplace and look out at the water from the heat of the living room.
After all, the open concept makes it so that the surrounding nature can be enjoyed in virtually any weather. "If we have a big party and it's pouring rain, we can open all that up, and if the wind is it coming off of the water, you really can still use the space," says Allison. "We've even had a Christmas party once where it was warm, but it was pouring down rain, so we just opened it up and we had a fire inside. It's really great."
Such indoor-outdoor living continues upstairs, too. The master bedroom has sweeping views of the water, but it's the bathroom that boasts perhaps the most interesting feature: a second floor indoor-outdoor shower—that was one selling point for the architect.
"When my husband was concerned we were going to do stark, '80s modern, I said, 'come see Blaze's house,'" Allison recalls. "Because it's very warm. And he had the indoor-outdoor shower. I was like, as soon as he sees this indoor-outdoor shower, you're going to get the job. And so sure enough, we went over there, and he saw that shower. And he was like, 'okay!'"
Allison's husband, she says, "loves being outside. And the rest of the time, he likes feeling like he is."
That, it would seem, is the prevailing attitude in a house whose doors (and even walls) are, quite literally, always open. "We wanted low maintenance because we, you know, we are a very active household," Allison says. "So I didn't want to have anything that was too precious. My husband's a surfer and comes in with sandy feet; the girls run through here with wet feet and bathing suits and dogs, and we always have a lot of people here and their dogs are welcome. It's a house full of life."
Photography by Claire Esparros.
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