This Montauk Designer Took His Cozy Bungalow Aesthetic and Dialed It Way Up
Hello, heated floors and a walk-in closet.
Published Nov 29, 2023 1:55 AM
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Interior designer Robert McKinley is already known for transforming quaint Montauk, New York, bungalows into warm, inviting homes. But his sixth residential project, his biggest to date—five bedrooms and 3,800 square feet, to be exact—which he calls Captain Balfour and is nestled alongside its own private beach, upped the ante for his reno approach. “This one was different in the simple fact that the property was a lot more valuable than any [bungalow] we’ve ever done,” he says. “It’s definitely not a bungalow, but it still has the same sort of spirit.”
And yet, McKinley knew he wanted the level of detail to be higher, so he started with a full gut reno, down to the studs, and then went to work rebuilding with luxury materials and finishes: mahogany for the roofing and decks, heated floors in the bathrooms, and limewash in as many areas as possible. Then there were some new builds, like a pool house and roomy two-car garage out front.
When it came to decorating, McKinley kept to an ocean-inspired palette of greens and sandy shades, then added what he calls “some really important furniture,” such as a snakelike vintage coffee-colored De Sede sofa in the living room. Still: “I always want to be careful that my homes don’t turn into vintage showrooms,” he says. So from there, he mixed in shoppable items, like EQ3 pillows and fluffy Beni Rugs from Morocco. For the art selection, rather than sourcing simple framed photographs, McKinley leaned on works by Mika Tajima; Hugh Scott-Douglas; and, in the front room, a vintage 1960s wood sculpture by Jhan Paulussen.
But the kitchen and bathrooms display McKinley’s go-big attitude best. In the former, Reform sawed European white oak cabinets rest below a custom stainless steel rack that stretches almost the entire room and lets light in where upper cabinets would have blocked it. Travertine countertops surround Gaggenau appliances, and a butler’s pantry makes the whole space party perfect.
Upstairs, the primary bathroom, swathed in Heath chocolate brown tile, gives epic waterfront views, a luxury in and of itself, until you wander past the oversize bathtub and fuzzy Coyuchi towels and into the walnut-lined walk-in closet.
And while McKinley went over the top in many aspects of the home, he did keep his signature: one space with a saturated tone, in this case the main level’s TV room, which he coated in Paniel limewash by Domingue Finishes.
And still, with all of its superluxe details, the home never loses its romance, especially with that view. “I kept asking myself: If this were the house that I was going to live in with my family, what would I want? I would want lots of windows, and I would want them to be as big as possible,” he says. Thanks to his Marvin find, which has panes (more romantic than a sheet of glass, he says), the entire home feels like a giant greenhouse—one where you can’t wait for the sun to set as your nighttime entertainment.