For These Two Pro Surfers, an Outdoor Shower Wasn’t a Luxury—It Was a Must
Eight hundred square feet of breezy vibes.
Published Oct 16, 2023 1:57 AM
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After spending years traveling to places like California and Hawaii chasing waves, pro surfers Quincy Davis and Pat Schmidt knew they wanted to live alongside the laid-back, sun-drenched vibes of the West Coast—without leaving their home on the East Coast.
“People always ask if I’m from California,” says Schmidt, whose shoulder-length blond hair is often covered by a baseball cap. “But I’m from New Jersey, and I love it out here.” And Davis? The Surfrider Foundation ambassador was born and raised in Montauk, New York, where she owns a boutique, Quincy the Store.
So when Davis’s mom, a real-estate pro who is always scoping out spots for the couple, came across an 800-square-foot cottage perched directly on the sand, “she knew it would be perfect for us,” says Davis.
The tiny escape on Napeague Bay is right on the dunes in Lazy Point, a unique locals-only community halfway between East Hampton and Montauk. “It’s a dream,” says Davis. “It feels old school, the way Montauk used to be.”
The space required a full reno, but adding square footage was not in the game plan. Lazy Point is filled with small beach shacks, so the duo wanted to keep the renovation in that spirit. Their solution? Make it feel brighter and airier by opening up the ceilings, removing living area walls and kitchen upper cabinets, and combining two of the three bedrooms to create an oasis of a primary bedroom while keeping a smaller room for a nursery (the couple is expecting their first child).
Schmidt tackled much of the renovation himself, including a three-day-long demolition—“I just put on a mask and some headphones and got to work,” he recalls—that revealed even more of the home’s rugged 1950s history, like a sailboat tiller nailed into the framing. “Opening up the ceilings made the biggest difference,” he says. “It was like night and day the moment I took them down.”
The mostly DIY reno also allowed them to customize the layout to their lifestyle with surfer-specific tweaks, like an outdoor shower that’s connected to the bathroom. “For two surfers, an outdoor shower isn’t a luxury, it’s a must,” says Davis.
Some smart trade-offs in the kitchen helped keep the project within budget. “We used IKEA cabinets, which we are honestly really happy with,” says Davis. With the money they saved on custom cabinetry, they bought additional marble to do a countertop waterfall on the side of the peninsula.
The secret to happily living in 800 square feet with a 150-pound Newfoundland dog and a baby on the way? Plenty of storage: While they were opening up the ceilings throughout the house, the couple kept a little loft area above the bedroom for off-season storage and, of course, a separate shed for their dozens of surfboards.
“I love the size of the house; it’s perfect for us right now,” says Davis. “It felt more manageable to decorate and easier to focus on the details.”
And the details are there: After years of owning a boutique, Davis has become a pro at curation. “I know how important it is to only choose the things you really love, especially when you’re working with a small space,” she says. She began by going with a color palette inspired by the home’s location on the dunes: warm neutrals, dusty pinks, muted greens, and calming blues. “It’s very calm out on the dunes, and we wanted to bring that same feeling to the inside of the house,” she adds.
Then they layered on items with meaning such as surf photography and souvenirs from their travels. (Their one regret is that they didn’t buy a rug in Morocco when they were there on a surf trip.) But perhaps the ultimate personal detail is the homemade wood sculptures throughout the home, made by Schmidt.
“It’s a creative outlet for me,” says Schmidt, who began by shaping wood pieces with a chainsaw, then carving and finishing—or just letting them age on the dunes by the house until they’re beautifully weathered.
Since working on the Lazy Point house, he started his own construction company, Northbound Builders. Davis says they’ve only just begun: “We learned a lot and we love the home, but I don’t think it’s the last renovation in our future.”