Excavated Waterfront Home in New York

There are a whole lot of beautiful waterfront properties along the Long Island coastline in New York, but a number of them probably started as inauspiciously as the home. It is part of a bunch “of 41 closely spaced homes that were formerly a bungalow colony,” architect Stuart Narofsky describes. Called Beacon Hill Colony, it was created 80 decades ago as squatter shacks for the employees at a local sand and gravel pit.

After the pit shut, the structures became summer bungalows. Through time, many of them have been ripped down and replaced with contemporary houses — some more respectful of the surroundings than others. Narofsky, famous for his way of sustainability in residential architecture, was thrilled to discover clients who desired to construct a simple construction that respected the hillside and its surroundings.

“When we met, the wife showed me photographs of a number of projects in the Pacific Northwest,” Narofsky states. “They were equipped with exposed beams and had an earthy, green type of aesthetic.” Besides giving him a room count, his clients’ sole other direction was to think outside the box. Their open-ended confidence in Narofsky’s eyesight was rewarded with a stunningly lovely house.

at a Glance
: Port Washington, New York
Size: 1,500 square feet
That is intriguing: The light-filled basement is 31 feet below the level of the house’s first excavation.

Narofsky Architecture + ways2design

Narofsky kept the living room ceilings open to give the impression of greater height. Steel beams are restricted with recovered wood from New York City brownstones. “The rich quality of the wood adds a lot to the space and refers back to the Pacific Northwest appearance,” Narofsky states. The fireplace wall includes 2 cold-rolled steel boxes that intersect a board of Sentousai stone tile by Inax. But in a bit of a trompe l’oeil impact, matters aren’t necessarily what they seem: The left portion is really a gas fireplace, while the right box conceals media equipment. The floors are waxed concrete.

The interior layout throughout the house is by Naroksky’s wife, Jennifer Rusch, and her helper, Katrina Hermann, of ways2design. Kenneddee club swivel seats from Poltrona Frau anchor the far end of the room. They flank Caste Design’s Powell occasional table and a sliding-glass door that opens onto a Juliet balcony.

Sofa: Link, Suite New York; cocktail table: LNA, Holly Hunt; Shade: Lepere; console: Frank, B&B Italia; painting: Frank Arnold

Narofsky Architecture + ways2design

The home is nestled into the hillside and looks as though it’s been there for years. (This is a view of it in the beach.) The house can be entered by walking down three flights of stairs in the parking area or upward 50 steps in the sand. The main floor includes an open living, dining and kitchen space. Below the primary floor is the bedroom level and then (not visible in this photo) the basement.

Narofsky Architecture + ways2design

Local building codes limited the property’s size to 1,500 square feet, and the height pub was set at the form of the first bungalow. Narofsky basically had to construct the house from the top down and, as exemplified here, created the innovative idea of a profound, careful excavation.

“Other than the first top pour, the south west and north walls were poured in approximately 4-foot-wide sections in a staggered sequence within an abysmal method that eventually took 37 different pours,” he clarifies. “This kept the hillside and adjacent structures in a safe, undisturbed state.”

The aluminum front gate has vertical cutouts that “provide a glimmer of what you’re about to see,” Narofsky states.

The entrance opens on the deck, and entry to the home is through sliding-glass doors that lead into the living room and the kitchen. The vertical portion of the ipe wood arbor affords solitude from the house next door, while the top section is covered with polycarbonate to offer protection against the elements.

Narofsky Architecture + ways2design

The dining and kitchen room opens right into the living room. The dining table, with a restaurant-style banquette, was custom made by ways2design and built by DCL Furniture using reclaimed wood. Its planks may be removed to turn the table into a narrow ledge, and there are extra ones that may allow for expansion when the homeowners entertain.

The stairs lead to the bedroom flat and then to a basement gym and laundry area.

Narofsky Architecture + ways2design

The whole home has a number of materials that play off one another. From the kitchen, an aluminum base kick, a stainless steel spout and Miele appliances interplay with the house’s other metal components, like the aluminum used for the front gate and the property’s stair railings.

The wood-grain cabinets from Poggenpohl possess a teak lava end. The cabinets above the oven and stovetop are painted with a Titan Gray lacquer, while satin-etched glass (for a close-up see another photo) conceals the hood vent. The Titan Gray lacquer was matched to the colour of these steel beams observable throughout the home.

“Balancing materials with regard to texture, colour and aesthetic was critical to respecting the architecture,” Katrina Hermann states. “The kitchen finishes were selected to highlight an interplay of levels and proportions inspired by the exposed ceiling and the beautiful corner window.”

Morph stools from Suite New York offer casual chairs in the raven-colored Caesarstone counter; the exact same material was used for the counter tops.

Narofsky Architecture + ways2design

This light-filled corner of the kitchen overlooks the entry courtyard.

Narofsky Architecture + ways2design

A half-bath rounds out the primary level. It’s equipped with a concrete sink, a custom aluminum planter and cabinets made from stained marine plywood.

Narofsky Architecture + ways2design

The bed, headboard and nightstand in the master bedroom are all one piece of furniture, made by ways2design and fabricated by DCL Furniture. The shelf on the right side of the bed can fold up and out of sight or stay down to be used as a nightstand.

Artwork: Frank Arnold; lamps: Signal, Jieldé; drapes: custom, O EcoTextiles in Oyster-Lopez

Narofsky Architecture + ways2design

“All the millwork throughout the master bedroom was conceived as a singular unit,” Narofsky states. An ac unit is concealed behind the wooden slats at the top left. The fireplace has the exact same rock facade as the one in the living room. “In some ways it’s an allusion to the more traditional type of chimney in houses where people expect to discover a fireplace on each floor,” he notes.

Narofsky Architecture + ways2design

The bathtub room is right near the master bedroom (there is a concealed curtain for privacy), and there is access out to the deck.

Narofsky Architecture + ways2design

The whole tub room is lined and waterproof. Ipe wood covers the walls and floor, while the ceiling is marine plywood. Ipe was used on the outdoor deck to make an indoor-outdoor feel. A stairs in the deck leads to the beach, therefore this is the ideal spot for burning on the road back in the home.

Tub: Nouveau, Hastings Tile & Bath

Narofsky Architecture + ways2design

As you go into the master suite, the main bathroom is to the right. All of the finishes are custom molding, and the floating vanity — tucked under the stairs to take advantage of the available space — is flanked by easy tube lights and topped with an eggshell-color Caesarstone counter.

Faucets: Vola

Narofsky Architecture + ways2design

To the left of the dressing table, a sliding resin door from Reynolds Polymer opens to reveal extra storage.

Narofsky Architecture + ways2design

Since the basement ceiling is lower than that of a normal cellar — and the space is more than 50 percent under level — this level of the home did not need to be contained in the overall 1,500-square-foot allotment specified by the local building code. The bottom of the wood beams is at the 7-foot limit, but there is an extra 10 inches to the subfloor of the degree above. “We didn’t want it to feel shut in, so we left everything, including the wires and pipes, exposed,” Narofsky states.

The walls are covered in construction-grade plywood (used for sheathing houses) with a clear polyurethane finish. “A polycarbonate facade to the west allows for privacy from the adjacent houses but drives natural light down into the basement,” he adds.

Narofsky Architecture + ways2design

Another component of the basement has a sleeping area for overflow guests and space for your own husband to practice guitar. The mattress platforms were custom made by ways2design and fabricated by Zen Restoration. They’re covered in driftwood cloth from David Sutherland. The Lichtenstein poster belonged to the homeowners.

Narofsky Architecture + ways2design

The guest bathroom on the bedroom level has porcelain tile on the walls. Narofsky cleverly and economically employed every inch of space. The customized medicine cabinet was inserted into a part of the wall where there was a void in the foundation.

The bathroom is a Philippe Starck layout for Duravit. “We do wall-hung toilets in 90 percent of our projects,” states Narofsky. “Aside from saving space, they are environmentally friendly.”

Sink: Lacava; faucet: Ignore, DaVinci, AF Supply

Narofsky Architecture + ways2design

The guest bathroom also features a steam shower with fixtures by DaVinci from AF Supply.

As opposed to constructing big, protruding decks, Narofsky integrated them into the quantity of the house. This deck, which may be retrieved in the kitchen and the living room, is the roof within the guest bedroom.

“The exterior facade’s ipe wood planks were mounted onto a wall system,” Narofsky states. “This lets the facade substances to weather evenly so they hold their shape, and in addition, it prevents any moisture infiltration.”

The roof of the home is planted with sedum ground cover in a living roof system from Xero Flor America. “It respects the views from the neighboring houses,” Narofsky states.

Photos by Phillip Ennis Photography

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