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A thoughtfully expanded original Scheffer cottage in the Amagansett Lanes

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By Erica Broberg Smith

All photos by Dalton Portella

“Meeting House” was a pristine example of a 1960s authentic, unheated, untouched Scheffer cottage close to the ocean in the Amagansett Lanes. The owners needed more space, but wanted to preserve the look and feel of the cottage, commissioned by their parents 50+ years before from Alfred Scheffer. Scheffer was an East Hampton architect who built a number of small but well-designed midcentury beach cottages.

The owners contacted East Hampton architect Erica Broberg Smith for help renovating and expanding the home. She says, “It is so rare in this economy and mindset to have a client who wishes to be understated and have their elaborate, expensive overhaul look like it was never added onto to. As an architect, this project symbolizes my personal outlook on vernacular architecture, suitability, and sophistication.”

The house is constructed of a series of simple one-story juxtaposed gable structures, with minimal adornment and detail. The new roofline continues the long and rambling beach cottage aesthetic, which has all but disappeared from the East End. Erica says, “The intent was to make the exterior appear modest in style, scale and choice of materials, reminiscent of Scheffer houses and classic beach boxes of that era.”

The interior features many original and recreated Scheffer elements, including reclaimed brick floors, hand-hewn collar ties, and cathedral beamed spaces. The interior horizontal paneling is a play on Scheffer’s original use of reclaimed unfinished paneling.

Now there’s an open, loft-like room for family gatherings, including a new kitchen by Smith River Kitchens, a banquette, and seating areas at the fireplace and facing the yard. There’s also a TV room accessed by a handmade sliding barn door, a small office for one, a walk-in pantry and a formal dining room.

Erica notes, “The ‘back of house’ spaces (and their thoughtful location) are integral to successful design of multi-generational summer houses.” This includes a mudroom and laundry room accessed from various points with labeled cubbies for family members.

Teen sons were accommodated on one side of the house, away from other family members, with two bedrooms and a “music/Xbox” hangout room. The master suite, grandmother’s suite, and guest suits are on the opposite side.

The small second floor features a bunk room with beds built into the eaves and the daughter’s room, with built in queen bed, drawers, bookcases, and so on. The second floor design reflects the sinking of the roof lines into the first floor roof, so that the house continued to appear low-slung, horizontal and one story.

Erica sums up: “Making a statement with the exterior architecture of a house for the benefit of the architect or the homeowner has always seemed odd to me. With the high level of detail and design on the interior, the house is experienced as a total surprise upon one’s entry.”