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Explore a Modern Zen Residence

Designer Eddie Lee creates an East Hampton getaway for a Manhattan couple

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Peter Emmerson and Fei Shao don’t like to mess with a good thing. The former Coach International executive and his husband had already commissioned New York City–based interior designer Eddie Lee to design two of their homes when they approached him about a third. “Given that this was our third project together, they trusted me to design a mix of contemporary upholstery with classic antique elements to create a curated yet comfortable space,” explains Lee. The homeowners found this spectacular East Hampton property on the wetlands along Gardiners Bay offering stunning views of Shelter Island, and commissioned Lee and architect Edward Wendt to create a new home.

The masculine charcoal-and-gray scheme continues in the covered porch and serves as a strong counterpoint to the lush green foliage.

“The client wanted a modern house that spoke to the property with a warm, organic vibe,” says Lee. “The client loves Asian cultures and gardens, so we looked to classic modern steel-and-glass architecture for inspiration and added an Asian spirit.” The resulting modern Zen residence was inspired by the clients’ favorite garden in Japan. Lee used sleek stone, wood, steel, concrete and glass throughout the architecture, allowing the interiors to be more colorful and daring (think concrete floors with raw silk walls in the master bedroom).

Custom-designed laser-cut oak closet doors 
are based on 19th-century Japanese woodblock prints.

A central ellipse with open stair exposes the central steel spine, giving double height to the entryway and creating a home for the client’s extensive collection of works by local artists. The color palate is warm and neutral with charcoals, grays, warm tans and greens. Rich materials like lush velvets, layered hides, textured cork and wood ceilings and leather-wrapped stair handrails give a maximalist aesthetic to the stark architecture. All in all, the homeowners are thrilled with the result. “They recently hosted the East Hampton Historical Society benefit, and guests told the owners that they were shocked the house was newly built, as it had so much soul,” says Lee. Certainly the best compliment any designer could hope to receive.

The garage doubles as a party shed and houses the clients’ extensive collection of 19th-century portraiture.