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This beach cottage in Orient is modern meets classic. (Credit: LGM creative)

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The importance of curb appeal cannot be undersold. The exterior of a home is the first insight into the homeowners’ sense style and self. Architects are the first to put these individual aesthetics to paper. They are charged with bringing out the best in existing construction or formulating the best in the new.

These four North Fork architects and builders executed this task to exemplary heights. In the final installment of our Dream Series, these pros prove that a true dream home starts from the outside in.

A view from the back of the house. (Credit: Meryl Kramer Architect)

An above average ranch in Mattituck

Strategically placed additions transformed this run-of-the-mill ’70s style ranch into a modern oasis befitting of its homeowners. Southold architect Meryl Kramer excels at combining a modern sensibility with comfort and ease. Her manner was at the heart of this Mattituck redesign.

The busy homeowners wanted their second home on the North Fork to be a quiet escape from city life. They sought to expand the ranch to create a space they could grow into after their retirement as well as roomy place to entertain visiting family and friends.

The home was a gut job. Kramer began by adding 1,400 square feet of first floor living space. The placement of the new windows was thoughtfully examined throughout the design process to maintain curb appeal while maximizing the natural light coming into the single-story home.

“We gave a lot of focus to large windows,” she said.

Color also played a significant roll in marrying the interior with the exterior.

“The overall scheme is black and white, but we spent a lot of time choosing the particular white,” Kramer said. “We did want it to be stark or chalky. It has a creamy feeling. We knew early on that we would use black [exterior] windows and doors.”

The new finishes gave the home a streamlined, clean feel that flows from the exterior to the interior. She swapped out the existing cedar shingles for a modern painted clapboard siding that better fit the scheme. The material also withstands weathering.

The most dramatic change was to the roof. Kramer added a board and batten style center gable. The addition was served two fold: creating visual interest from the outside and cathedral ceilings on the inside.

In the backyard, a large pool, raised deck, screened porch, custom pergola and outdoor shower were the final pieces to making the exterior a perfect extension of the interior.

The front of the home. (Credit: Meryl Kramer Architect)
The pergola of this Mattituck home was custom built. (Credit:Meryl Kramer Architect)
A view of the pool. (Credit: Meryl Kramer Architect)

A Greek- rival style home on Shelter Island. (Credit: Ian McDonald)

Historic home reimagined on Shelter Island

There are four uniquely historic homes on Shelter Island unlike any other. These Greek-revival houses were constructed in the 1840s by local carpenter Gabriel Crook before he fled the island in 1849 in search of fortune during the California’s Gold Rush.

His original four homes remain an iconic pillar to the architectural fabric on Shelter Island and were the inspiration behind this newly constructed home on a 2.6-acre estate that abuts the Sylvester Manor homestead.

The property owners tasked local architect Ian McDonald with recreating the Crook Greek-revival style home from the ground up. Perhaps, there was no better person for the job. McDonald took advantage of an opportunity to study one of Crook’s homes in detail and even planned to build one for his family.

“I always loved the Greek revival,” McDonald said. “It is simple — not overly fussy, but it still has a lot of detail.”

Instead of rehashing a historical reproduction, the owners wanted to design a house inspired by the Crook homes, but with a contemporary factor that would be easy to maintain and large enough to accommodate visiting family and friends.

While studying the original Crook home, McDonald carefully measured each element down to the dentils. The new home shares many attributes with the Greek-revival style it was modeled after, including fluted columns, an entry door wrapped in fluted trim and corner boards made to look like fluted pilasters.

The replicas were all made from modern, weather-resistant materials. To modernize the centuries-old design while keeping the character, he made slight adjustments to meet the homeowners’ modern-day needs.

The site constraints called for a long, narrow house and garage perpendicular to the harbor. Basing the house on the 22-foot wide Crook model, McDonald developed a plan that used two “bookends” connected by a “bridge” section in the middle.

“I took the main core of the Crook house and mirrored it and created a bridge in the center,” he said. “It was almost like two houses with a hallway [joining them].”

The powder room, guest bedrooms, bathrooms, staircases and laundry were located on the rear bookend, which created a desirable open floor plan in the front of the home. The design also allowed sweeping harbor views from the living and dining room, the kitchen and the three-season porch.

“Every year the homeowners drop off a bottle of wine at my office,” McDonald said. “They’re really happy with the house.”

A view of the garage. (Credit: Ian McDonald)
The columns are a hallmark of the style. (Credit: Ian McDonald)
A view from the back of the property. (Credit: Ian McDonald)

This beach cottage is modern meets classic. (Credit: LGM creative)

Craftsman Cottage in Orient

The homeowners of this cozy beach cottage in Orient had one request of architect Mark Schwartz when he was hired to renovate this 2,000-square-foot home.

“The clients made it clear that they didn’t want a typical ‘McMansion’ build, but instead something unique, very personal and in-sync with their tastes,” Schwartz said. “The owner’s desire to maintain a traditional exterior design aesthetic with a somewhat eclectic yet clean and open interior flow gave us a pretty good set of parameters from which to start.”

This project was essentially a complete renovation of an older bay front home into a modern craftsman akin to the simple beach cottage style of the ’40s and ’50s. The challenge was in modernizing a structure that had fallen into considerable disrepair while still adhering to its original footprint.

“Because we wanted to stay true to the existing footprint of the original home, lot situation made for an interesting challenge but also yielded an exceptionally satisfying result,” he said. “They also wanted retain some of the original and more traditional design features, which certainly played a role in our own approach to the new design.”

Schwartz was able to maintain charm by incorporating some of the original materials — specifically the beams — into the new construction. Eclectic modern interior space is balanced by the home’s more traditional exterior. Exposed beams that are visible in the first floor kitchen and living room areas is one example of how Schwartz accomplished the goal.

“It was actually one of our favorite projects: the clients were terrific, creative people and great to work with,” he said. “At the end of the day everyone was really happy with the way it came out.”

The Orient home was completely renovated. (Credit: LGM creative)
The detached garage. (Credit: LGM creative)
A view from the side of the home. (Credit: LGM creative)

Shingle style with character in East Marion

This East Marion home was upgraded with modern materials that retain charm. (Credit: Dave Murray)

This classic New England cedar shingle home was in need of an update befitting of its character. Dave Murray, of Murray Design & Build, kept with the tradition of the home while bringing it into the 21st century.

“We updated the exterior using superior building products for both aesthetics and longevity,” he said. “All the trim material is Versatex PVC, which alleviates maintenance worries while still offering authentic historic profiles.”

The shingle style house is epitomized by its cedar sidewalls, gambrel shaped roof, heavy trim profiles and round columns. Murray provided contrast and visual interest by using Alaskan yellow cedar on the roof, which ages to a silver patina. Classic red cedar shingles — a mainstay used throughout the North Fork — were selected for the sidewalls. Mahogany railings offer unparalleled strength and durability while half-round copper gutters and round leaders are the perfect finishing accent.

“By staying true to the home’s classic roots, we were able to begin this project after Thanksgiving and had the exterior completed prior to Memorial Day — even though it was a very snowy and cold winter,” Murray said. “The homeowners were amazing to work with and made restoring the home a truly enjoyable experience.”

The gambrel roof is a staple of the design. (Credit: Dave Murray)
A view from the back of the home. (Credit: Dave Murray)
Mahogany railings are durable and design forward. (Credit: Dave Murray)