THE LONG VIEW
A protégé of Philippe Starck when he was collaborating with hotelier Ian Schrager, designer Kelly Behun knows all about creating comfort amid splendor. She is a master of materials and scale, crafting sleek yet inviting spaces for projects ranging from the Delano in Miami to the Manhattan apartment of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.
The Southampton, New York, home of designer Kelly Behun and her family; the architecture is by Brian Sawyer and John Berson of Sawyer / Berson. The façade is stucco, the pool is lined with Indiana limestone, and the boulders on the lawn are from a local quarry.
Behun designed the loggia’s table, which has a base of hand-cut ceramic mosaic tiles and a Macassar ebony top; the Living Divani sofas are upholstered in a Holly Hunt linen, the wicker stools are by IKEA, the rope stool and blue chair are by Christian Astuguevieille, and the custom rugs are made from African raffia ceremonial cloths.
VIEW FROM LAWN
Several years later, the answer to that rhetorical question is this: Behun has created one of the East End’s most admired dwellings, a graceful, low-slung, nearly endless expanse of limestone and glass that elegantly mirrors the ocean it faces. “People tell me it’s surprisingly warm and peaceful,” she says, standing in one of the huge, sun-soaked living areas. The floor-to-ceiling glass walls open, turning the space into a loggia with the Atlantic spread beyond the dunes. “You think it will be overwhelming, but it’s really calming instead.”
A view of the house from the rear lawn.
Rope-wrapped stools and an Oggetti chair surround a Behun-designed walnut table in the kitchen, the walnut-slab bar is custom made, the 1930s stools are French, and the “hand” barstools came from West Palm Beach; the French metal-and-wicker light fixture is vintage, and the rugs are Moroccan.
The elongated site dictated a long, narrow structure, but the couple didn’t want it to feel like a giant, glass-sided pencil box. Sawyer and Berson would have to be clever with elevations and radically vary the scale of the rooms to break up the vast space. And, of course, the couple wanted to maximize the incomparable views. “They really were comfortable and confident with their plan,” says Berson. “Her husband knew exactly what elevation he wanted from his study, and the angle from which he wanted to see all the way down the beach.”
Indiana limestone steps lead down to a lawn behind the dunes.
The house is a series of connected pavilions, explains Sawyer, influenced by the designs of Paul Rudolph and Philip Johnson. To maintain serenity, the palette was limited; much of the interior is sheathed in French Luget limestone, which has a warm glow like beach sand. The windows and movable glass panels seamlessly meld inside with outside. In addition to the array of living areas, the house contains seven bedrooms (including a three-bedroom guest wing), a screening room, a gym, and an infinity pool. The couple insisted that the whole space be profoundly livable, full of deft, whimsical touches and sly humor. “In the end,” says Behun, “a home has to reflect who you are. I think you can have airiness and still a huge amount of character.”
The cabana’s limestone seating has cushions covered in a Sunbrella fabric, and the whirlpool is lined with mosaic tiles by Sicis.
In the crook of a curving white plaster staircase is a 10-foot sculpture that is also pure Behun. “I found this five-foot rattan vase at a local store,” she explains. “I painted it black, figuring I’d like it against the white of the staircase. But it didn’t work, so I got another one and stacked it upside down on the first one. And then I coiled rope around it and painted the whole thing white.”
Sons Miles (left) and Arno in the pool, which is visible from the gym.
The custom-made bed and side tables in the master bedroom are bleached walnut, the artwork is by Derrick Velasquez, and the rug is goatskin.
“When it works, there’s this great balance between space and objects,” Behun says. “I wish I had a formula. I know I can stand here in this room and see how everything works together, see the sand and the ocean beyond, and it’s just right.”
In Behun’s bath, the tub is French limestone, the stool is by Marc Bankowsky, and the rug is by ABC Carpet & Home.