In 2013, the New York Times ran a Style section article that accused the modern wealthy of aspiring for their homes to be plain glass boxes, as empty as possible. Around the world, the article stated, a new house considered in good taste was but an empty vessel with no life, no warmth, no hints of the past. That was certainly true then and, arguably, high-end architects and designers around the world have only continued to embrace that rigorously spare design ethos and churn out plain glass box after plain glass box.
There is, however, a different way, as exemplified by The Landing, an inviting (and decidedly not empty) waterside spread on sleepy Shelter Island, a short ferry ride from the Hamptons town of Sag Harbor. Designer-owners Bill Cummings and Bernt Heiberg, partners in life and in their eponymous firm Heiberg Cummings, purchased the property a bit more than two years ago for almost $2.1 million. They have since remade it over in their signature style that’s rooted in classy understatement, modest proportions, and comfortable livability. They favor a dash of Scandi minimalism combined with sumptuous low-key comfort, all expressed in a refined and natural palette. That’s not to say the pair do not obsess over every little detail, from the light switches to the reclaimed wooden floors, to the fieldstone making up the fireplace. Or that they don’t incorporate high-tech creature comforts in all that snug homeyness. Because they definitely do.
In the living room, a vaulted ceiling, rustic barn doors, and reclaimed wood floors sourced in upstate New York emphasize the theme of imperfection, as does the kitchen island, a reclaimed workbench. All sinks in the house are concrete, and the kitchen and dining room boast serene water and sunset views. As for the four bedrooms, the primary suite includes a radiant-headed bath with trough sink and glass shower. A cozy guest suite located in a separate of the main floor is nicely private, with a window seat that overlooks the pool. Downstairs are two more en-suite guest rooms, which boast water views and glass doors to the gardens. Also downstairs are a spa area with steam shower and a library that doubles as a screening room with glass doors to a covered lounging area outfitted with privacy curtains and a gravel patio with eight Adirondack chairs to enjoy the sunsets.
While Heiberg Cummings’ interior design work is always standout, their outdoor work is equally stellar. The Landing includes some of the couple’s quintessential touches, such as an outdoor shower, which is pretty standard in the Hamptons, but also an outdoor bathtub and beach-inspired landscaping with ornamental grasses and low bamboos. For privacy, tall pine trees line the perimeter. Gas lights — another of their best tricks — illuminate the exterior. The 55-foot heated saltwater pool is right next to a charming pool house with skylit bar, and a nearby fire pit is perfect for summer parties. Most notably, there is a deep-water dock, hard to find in most of the Hamptons and perfect for dedicated boaters.
Set on one acre of waterfront property, with four bedrooms and four baths in about 2,800 square feet, The Landing is now under contract with an asking price of $4.75 million. Stacey Cohen at Saunders & Associates is the listing broker.
If a vacation home is about capturing a lifestyle, Heiberg Cummings has pulled it off in a definite way. No soulless glass box for them. Relaxed and understated, warm and homey in a woodsy, waterside setting: they landed it indeed.