Kartik Desai's Zen Hamptons Home Is Full of Cost-Cutting Secrets
By Hadley Mendelsohn, House Beautiful
From the road, it looked like an abandoned mobile home. But architect and designer Kartik Desai of D&A Companies and his husband Zane Philstrom, who is the costume and scenery designer for Company XIV in Brooklyn, had a hunch that there was more to it. “In 2012, during a wedding in the Hamptons, Zane and I saw a listing for a run-down trailer on top of a bluff in Southold in the North Fork [of Long Island, New York]. We drove up to see it between the ceremony and reception—and fell in love with the view,” Desai recalls. They instantly envisioned the property, with breathtaking views of Long Island Sound, as the site of their future family home, making an offer the next day.
The abandoned house that they decided to tear down was half mobile home, half foundation. “The doors had been left open for months (or longer), so the ceiling was caving in. By the time we purchased it in 2012, it was uninhabitable, so we initially used the property as a campsite,” they explain. “During that time, we built a makeshift outdoor shower and kitchen and got a nice big tent. We ended up having some lovely summers there, getting to know the property while we designed the house.” The motivation and inspiration for the design was the view, plain and simple. “We wanted to make the most of it, so every room and the swimming pool faces the Long Island Sound.” In order to do this, the pair had to get clever. Keep reading to see how the new four-bedroom home came together, and to learn about the designer’s sneaky cost-cutting solutions.
“I love the massive fireplace, with a 12-foot hearth that doubles as a bench. We make roaring fires in the evenings almost all year!” says Philstrom.
When it came to furnishing the living room, the pair “wanted a large, comfortable linen sectional with just the right combination of crisp lines and unfussy fabric,” Desai says. But everything they found turned out to be too expensive, so the couple decided to get creative. They ended with an affordable IKEA sectional with a standard and clean shape but then ordered custom linen covers to give it a more polished and unique look. “The best part is the linen covers can be easily removed and washed, which is great for a beach house,” Desai tells us.
Lounge chair: Carl Hansen & Son; Large wall sculpture: Dai Ban; Yellow Painting: Peter Arvidson; Floor lamp: Santa & Cole; Pendant lamp: Isamu Noguchi; Sofa covers: Bemz; Side Table: Vitra.
The kitchen, living room, the dining area were designed to feel welcoming and cozy since they’re all really one communal space. In line with that spirit of connection and flow, “we wanted a continuous bank of sliding doors along the length of the entire ground floor facing the pool and water view,” Desai tells HB. However, because they couldn’t afford a custom 50-foot-long sliding door system, they chose to use four bay units in standard widths.
They then applied the natural oak finish for the sliding doors “and the cabinetry and then used cabinet face material to fill in the space between the sliding doors so it all looks like a single system.” explains Desai, who says not to overlook standard-sized windows. “There are clever ways to make them look custom.” Directly adjacent to the outdoor area, the dining room works perfectly for everyday meals and living as well as for entertaining.
Dining table: RH; Pendant lamp: Isamu Noguchi.
If you’re looking for budget-friendly surface material swaps, consider the following: “I originally wanted the main floor, countertops, and fireplace surround to be concrete. That was out of our budget, so we used large format tiles from Porcelanosa for the floor and then quartz for the countertop and fireplace surround. They provide a similar vibe to the concrete, but have the benefit of being virtually indestructible, stain-resistant, and incredibly low maintenance!”
The kitchen is open to the rest of the ground floor. “I love cooking, so it is fun to be in the kitchen and still be part of the action by the pool, at the dining table, or by the fireplace,” says Philstrom.
Appliances: Dacor; Cabinet pulls: The Foundryman; Floor: Porcelanosa.
Everything about this bedroom screams (or more accurately, whispers) peace and tranquility. It flows nicely with the rest of the home while also incorporating new color schemes that align with the beach landscape.
Nightstands: CB2 (left) Blu Dot (right); Linens: Parachute; Lamp: IKEA (left)
Even the bathroom has sweeping views of the Long Island Sound. Desai opted for the same or similar materials used in the main living areas for continuity, and also because they’re practical, durable, and aﬀordable alternatives.
Plumbing fixtures: Kohler; Mirrors: Rejuvenation; Tile: Porcelanosa.
Haley Mendelsohn, Senior Editor
Hadley Mendelsohn is House Beautiful’s senior design editor and the co-host and executive producer of the podcast Dark House.
When she’s not busy writing about interiors, you can nd her scouring vintage stores, reading, researching ghost stories, or stumbling
about because she probably lost her glasses again. Along with interior design, she writes about everything from travel to
entertainment, beauty, social issues, relationships, fashion, food, and on very special occasions, witches, ghosts, and other Halloween
haunts. Her work has also been published in MyDomaine, Who What Wear, Man Repeller, Matches Fashion, Byrdie, and more.