Seeing it today, it’s difficult to imagine that this East Marion beach house was once abandoned.
Already dormant when its longtime owner, a noted 1960s television actor, passed away more than 30 years ago, the summer home was slowly forgotten by the family members who had inherited it.
But about six years ago, the neglected property began to spring back to life, as a new generation of descendants saw potential in the waterfront getaway, where they say sunsets are unparalleled.
The family recruited local carpenter Bob Saetta, who rebuilt the house practically from scratch. Only the basement and the chimney and fireplace were kept and the house was constructed around these footprints. The transformation of the 1962 house was dramatic, turning a single-story cottage into an open- concept two-bedroom home with a second-story loft. The floors were updated to oak and the kitchen was modernized and expanded to a back wall of windows overlooking Long Island Sound. The homeowners decided to completely remove a beach cabana from the property, replacing it with a deck.
The renovation of the house was essentially completed in 2016, but it took two more years to rebuild the staircase down to the beach.
Interior designer Elyse Petrella was hired last year to furnish the completely remodeled residence. The designer, of the eponymous boutique firm in New York City, shared some of the key details of her work.
Turning one space into two
The position of the unmoved fireplace created what felt like a divide in the newly created living room space and posed a challenge, Petrella said.
“It was so interesting, the location of the fireplace, and trying to figure out how I was going to divide the spaces and make it feel like it was still one cohesive space,” she said. “The overall space is large, because they have a cathedral ceiling, so it really feels extremely open and spacious and really hard to delineate those areas.”
Instead of a more traditional layout, Petrella decided to create one seating arrangement in front of the fire, and another on the other side of the living room, creating two seemingly separate areas in one homogeneous space. Near the fireplace, she opted for a pair of swivel chairs covered in a shibori fabric instead of a sofa, along with a large saddle ottoman and a cowhide rug. The second area received a more traditional seating arrangement, she said, with a sofa, a pair of vintage chairs, a reclaimed wood coffee table and nautical-themed benches wrapped in rope.
I wanted it to have a sense of bringing in the outdoors, tied with natural materials and nothing that was too precious. It’s a beach house; people are kind of coming in and out with lots of bare feet.Elyse Petrella, Elyse Petrella Interiors
In the bedroom
Larger windows require wider window treatments and a black block-pattern flat-weave rug accented an overall aesthetic for the room.
“We have a cool pair of black campaign nightstands [in the master bedroom] and I put a surfboard over that to make it fun and a little different,” Petrella said.
Now that the renovation is complete, the homeowners plan to keep it as a rental property, sharing those once-in-a-lifetime North Fork sunsets with others.
“The house came out great,” Petrella said. “I think it’s fun. It’s cheerful. [East Marion] has become this enclave of a community and it’s super creative.”
Dining in style
Petrella hung a basket light fixture over the dining table and used wishbone chairs that are a mid-century design.
A sisal rug was used to further define the area, an approach repeated throughout the house.
Window treatments were completely linen and lined.