A family takes on a massive historical renovation in Bellport.
With shady trees, bushes and overflowing greenery, landscape designer John Beitel gave privacy to the home on a street corner.
When Chris and Una Fogarty first fell in love with the village of Bellport, they were there to celebrate time. The millennium was changing, and the young couple decided to rent a beach house for the occasion. They bought a nearby vacation home shortly after, but time became a major problem. The house was built in 1879 for the mayor of Bellport and is on the National Historic Register, but its age had given it excessive water and structural damage, along with an asbestos-ridden roof. Chris, co-founder of Fogarty Finger Architecture, and Una, a real estate developer, saw the potential.
Now, the colonial stands in stately coziness. The open layout can accommodate the bustling lives of the family, and its touches from the past and present blend together. The Fogartys moved the kitchen and downstairs bathroom, uncovered classic exterior clapboards and designed the interiors to match the architecture’s history.
The goal for the living room was warm tones and complementary patterns to match the windows.
“The house definitely had turn-of-the-century charm, complete with an idyllic location, so we wanted to keep that appeal but inject some contemporary elements, all while feeling seamless,” Chris says. “We didn’t want there to be anything obvious about what was original and what was new, so everything we did was period-appropriate.”
For example, one of the home’s most defining characteristics is the stained-glass windows reflecting geometric shards of colored light into several rooms. Chis and Una designed around them rather than allowing them to define the interiors. In the living room, graphic prints in warm colors, along with intricate millwork, complement the windows and give them depth.
“We both have a love of artwork and enjoyed choosing standout pieces by Jon Pestoni and Rick Finkelstein, along with pieces by unique, lesser-known artists to update the rooms,” Chris says.
“We wanted to maintain the home’s stained-glass windows, which were an amber color with a rainbow of other glass mixed in, as they really added warmth to each room, but they were not practical in their past state,” Chris says. “Our modern approach was to replace the middle amber panel with clear glass and coordinate the colored pieces with paint finishes in each room so that the spaces felt more orderly and thoughtful.”
The back roofing features a sunrise pattern.
The renovations produced many other challenges that required creative solutions. The pine flooring needed to be replaced, so the couple salvaged warped, weathered wood from a tobacco plant in the South. They wanted new overhead lighting for the bright kitchen and scoured the internet for hours to find fixtures with the right color and wiring. Now, the 1970s Holmegaard glass sourced from Denmark looks perfectly natural hanging over a kitchen island that is actually a retired shopping counter.
The Fogartys chose the interiors goods themselves over time from flea markets and antiques stores.
One of the biggest aspects of the makeover was the addition of a pool and garden. Landscape designer John Beitel was tapped in to add layers of green-on-green texture. He curated a selection of native shrubs and perennials for around the backyard area, where the family congregates.
The kitchen boasts Statuarietto marble countertops from Italy, a French stove by La Cornue, a Miele refridgerator and a Sub-Zero freezer.
Although Chris and Una are technically based in the city, the key family moments of connectivity center in Bellport. Their daughters were christened in the same local church where they attend Easter service every year; Fogarty Finger Architecture barbecues are hosted by the pool; and relatives make the pilgrimage each year for Thanksgiving dinner. (Chris’ parents love Bellport so much that they don’t even bother stopping in Manhattan anymore when they fly in.) The summer routines of coffee and newspaper in the morning and cocktails in the evening take place on the porch, one of Chris’ favorite parts of the home. Above that porch, wood beaming forms the image of a sun’s rays in perpetual rise, fixed to see the next century.
Photography by: howie guja