“I’m a Porsche guy, and the house is tantamount to that,” says James.“It’s this solid thing that was beautifully done the first time.”
Kohiki Bottle Vase by Samuel Johnson, Sara NYC; Hotel Melody Bedspread and Kent Throw, Frette.
Out went awkward built-in beds nailed to the ground (“One had a shoe inside of it!” says James); in came a sculptural pendant lamp over the dining room table (“You should
have seen the literal puddle of sweat on the ground”). But
the couple didn’t lift a hammer before they consulted the original blueprints.
When a neighbor found out they were buying the place, he presented them with signed architectural plans—he had, it turns out, worked for Gifford 20 years ago. Christopher Bascom Rawlins, the author of Fire Island Modernist, had crafted the bike shed (and complementary trash receptacles) on their exact property back in 2015; he also had a copy, as did the original owners. “I cannot tell you how closely I have pored through each iteration: ‘First, he thought about putting a desk here, but then he decided not to! He wanted to put a dumbwaiter in; do you think it’s hidden somewhere?’”
However, the couple did get rid of some utilitarian updates the previous owners made over the years, including bulky guardrails for an aging parent and contemporary light fixtures and TVs that clashed with the clean lines. In October 2019 they also hired a contractor to carve out a window in the clutter-attracting bike shed, transforming it into a sunny workspace for James. But in 2020, when the family left Manhattan for Fire Island earlier than expected as the pandemic swept the city, Hara and James decided to tackle the rest of the demo themselves.
Skylight, Anderson Windows; Quartz Countertops, Caesarstone.