A storied Long Island estate house lends itself to warm and elegant gatherings.
An Italian Renaissance-style estate created in 1922 for a titan of industry seemed, well, custom-made for its new owner. “I love older architecture and homes, and when I saw this house it reminded me of the period when they built some of the best buildings in the country, from Newport to Manhattan to Boston to right here on Long Island,” the owner says. “I appreciate the quality workmanship and the time they put into it—not just the structure, but all the details of molding, staircase and ironwork.”
Grand as the nearly 10,000-square-foot house is, it also provides an abundance of opportunities for relaxed but elegant entertaining. “The way we designed the rooms is traditional yet simple,” says the owner. “That’s how my wife and I are—when we entertain, we want people to relax and have a good time.”
Entertaining may begin in the capacious living room, with furniture that is a combination of antiques—many purchased from shops in nearby Locust Valley—and custom-made pieces from American manufacturers such as Baker and Hickory Chair. The showstopper of the room, however, is the 20-by-30-foot, 18th-century Oushak rug. “I bought it 25 years ago, long before I bought this house, and sent it back to Turkey to be restored. That took four years. You could almost say I bought the house for this rug,” the owner says with a laugh.
The cream-and-rust-colored rug was created during a transitional period between intricate Persian designs and more relaxed Bessarabian patterns, he explains. “It’s
made of wool and vegetable-dyed, with lighter colors that distinguish it from the deep navies and reds of Persian rugs. Yet it doesn’t go all the way to the European style, which was much lighter and more floral. It’s an influence that designers here love, because the pattern is not in perfect symmetry, and it still has the stories of the villages of the East in it.”
Throughout the home, the owner has lovingly restored the house’s signature features, including two covered areas featuring arches and columns on a grand balcony. “When I look at them, I think of old Europe,” he says. The balcony overlooks the 18-acre lawn, which includes two golf holes complete with a sand trap. “On almost any nice evening, you will find us sitting out there,” notes the owner.
Because the house is built into the side of the hill, it has an unusual two-level basement, affording both natural light and an abundance
of leisure options. A theater area is designed in the old Hollywood style, complete with black-and-white photos of stars from the movies’ golden age. Revelers can have a drink at a seriously stylish bar, play a bit of foosball, or even indulge in blackjack, billiards or roulette in a complete casino installed by a previous owner. “I’d guess there’s been some kind of gaming in this space from the beginning, perhaps even during Prohibition,” the owner speculates.
For a true retreat from the world, the owner has created what is perhaps the ultimate “man cave,” with a big-screen TV, bar and a cozy décor that’s somewhat darker than other spaces in the house. “There are a lot of trees outside the windows so not much sun gets in, and we wanted to keep it the way it was,” says the owner. “When I have my friends over, we spend a lot of time in that room.”
With their children grown, the owner and his wife have ample time to see friends and entertain, a lifestyle that perfectly suits the welcoming and refined space they have created. “We do have a place in the city, but I prefer the house,” the owner confesses. “I spend most of my time here.”
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