Montauk Mod: Retro Done Right
A few years ago, designer Lauren Rottet had never been to the Hamptons. Today, she is the owner of one of Montauk’s most interesting and thoughtfully-outfitted homes. Attracted to the house’s provenance and its design integrity, she’s made her own revisions and added a new chapter to the story.
Rottet was a Hamptons ‘newbie,’ but she’s no newcomer to design. Over the last 25 years, she has been lauded as Boutique Designer of the Year, Interiors Designer of the Year, and is in Women in Design Hall of Fame. Some of Rottet Studio’s notable projects include New York City luxury hotels like The Surrey Hotel and the Leows Regency NY, as well as the St. Regis in Aspen, Colorado and the Presidential Bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel (chosen as the LA accomodation for Prince William and Kate Middleton).
“I came to visit and ended up buying!” Up to take much-needed time off, Rottet soon found herself looking at real estate. “It’s hard to keep me from browsing and brainstorming, but at the time I really thought I was sort of ‘pretending’ to look… I had yet to find something anywhere else that really clicked and felt right. When I saw this listed, I fell in love with it.” A synergistic history really ‘hit home’ for Rottet. The house is a rare example of residential design by George Nelson, a founder of American modernism who was the head of his own George Nelson Associates as well as Director of Design for the iconic Herman Miller furniture company. Originally built on the oceanfront, it was later salvaged and moved in pieces to a parcel between Montauk Lake and Montauk Point State Park.
An unconventional footprint comprised of staggered hexagons maximizes views in all directions. “Every room is a hexagon, so there are natural breezes that make air conditioning secondary climate control here,” Rottet says. “It’s also incredibly quiet and private.” Within the house, Rottet added a bedroom and bath and ensured that a lower-level suite included a kitchenette so owners or guests can have privacy and autonomy.
“For someone who loves 20th century design, it’s easy to appreciate the built-in pieces that are original to the house,” says Rottet. In addition to these original Nelson-designed gems, Rottet has added a number of pieces that a design aficionado would relish.
“The Paul McCobb credenza and McGuire table and stools came with the house, but I have added things like Raymond Lowey, a George Nelson clock, and a George Nelson bench,” plus a collection of art by notable and interesting artists. “A lot of the pieces that aren’t vintage are my own prototypes – acrylics and other pieces I tried out for the first time, that were site-specific but are now part of the lines I am producing.”
Rottet carefully restored and expanded the house, preserving or embellishing assets like the shingled interior ceilings and walls, hardwood and slate floors, and making expert choices for lighting that bring edginess to the space without challenging the sound aesthetic choices of the original design.
Some things were replaced or updated with an intentional nod to George Nelson’s original choices. “All the new appliances are Electrolux – that’s what was there.” While it’s not exactly a collaboration, it’s clear that Lauren Rottet and George Nelson are happy housemates.
If you want to enjoy a carefree summer in Montauk, surrounded by midcentury and contemporary bliss, you can rent this house with three bedrooms (plus den with Murphy bed) and 3.5 baths and enjoy elegant entertaining poolside, as well as a fabulous rooftop sundeck that has 360 degree views of the breathtaking surround. Check out the rental listing here.
Photos by Chris Foster of Fostergraph for The Hamptons Best