We’ve been fans of architect Elizabeth Roberts for a while now—we included her Brooklyn brownstone in our first Remodelista book—so we were curious when we spotted her Bellport, Long Island, weekend house on Instagram. We immediately emailed Elizabeth to get the story.
The house originally belonged to a Brooklyn-based client of Elizabeth’s, who sold it to her on the condition that she respect the spirit of the 1850s cedar-shingle cottage. “The biggest challenge for me was making the house my own while retaining the thoughtfulness of the previous owner’s decisions,” Elizabeth says. That meant finding a way to brighten the house while implementing only minor changes—no tearing down walls or discarding original materials—both to honor what was there and to stick to her $60,000 budget.
“A big part of my work was making the house feel as open and casual as possible,” Elizabeth says. She removed antique chandeliers and ornate fireplace mantels, swapped out the light fixtures, and lightened the interiors. “I made a conscious decision to lean toward the feel of a beach house—with white floors and walls and simple, summery details,” she says. “The house is definitely more eclectic than I’m used to, but in the end, it’s really fun to be surrounded by good decisions that were not my own.”
Elizabeth met the former owners when they hired her to work on their Brooklyn Heights brownstone. When they later engaged her to remodel a new summerhouse for them in Bellport, they invited the architect and her family to stay in their “old” Bellport house while she was drawing up plans for the new one. Elizabeth, her husband, and her son all fell in love with the place, and when her clients put it up for sale, they jumped at the chance to buy it.
The house is a 10-minute walk to the Bellport Marina, where locals can board a ferry or hire a boat to access a private community beach. “We just bought a canoe and look forward to rowing ourselves to the beach and elsewhere in the Bellport Bay—there’s so much to explore,” Elizabeth says.
Though the house was designed for summer, says Elizabeth, “It feels great in the winter too—the furnishings and white floors and walls feel a bit like a sunroom during the snowy, cold months.”
The upstairs bathroom came with a 100-year-old, seven-foot-long porcelain bathtub with original fittings, which meant there was no room for a separate shower or even a closet, according to Elizabeth. “But I didn’t even consider replacing it,” she says (the previous owners had installed a steel beam in the center of the living room to support its weight). “So it remains, and we love it. During the winter months, our guests all soak in that incredible tub, and it’s a highlight.”
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