Tour an Art-Filled Modern Oasis on Long Island

If a contemporary art museum staged a pop-up exhibit in the middle of a minimalistic wellness retreat, it might look something like this spectacular home. Take a tour.

July 29, 2020

Photo By: Mark Stumer

Photo By: Mark Stumer

Photo By: Mark Stumer

Photo By: Mark Stumer

Photo By: Mark Stumer

Photo By: Mark Stumer

Photo By: Mark Stumer

Photo By: Mark Stumer

Photo By: Mark Stumer

Photo By: Mark Stumer

Photo By: Mark Stumer

Photo By: Mark Stumer

Photo By: Mark Stumer

Photo By: Mark Stumer

Photo By: Mark Stumer

Photo By: Mark Stumer

Photo By: Mark Stumer

Photo By: Mark Stumer

Photo By: Mark Stumer

Photo By: Mark Stumer

Photo By: Mark Stumer

Photo By: Mark Stumer

Photo By: Mark Stumer

Photo By: Mark Stumer

Photo By: Mark Stumer

A Fresh Look at Luxury

Once a 19th-century Quaker community, the Long Island village of Old Westbury is now associated with lavish traditional estates. It's part of the island's "Gold Coast," where F. Scott Fitzgerald set The Great Gatsby.) Mojo Stumer Associates — a modern design team that’s received national attention (and plenty of awards) for its innovative projects — aimed to make contemporary history with its own take on luxury in Old Westbury. The 6,000-square-foot, mahogany-and-stone-clad result both blends in with its wooded, once-pastoral setting and deploys modern minimalism to create a 21st-century oasis. Principal architect Mark Stumer and interior designer Jessica Licalzi threw open the doors of this two-story, four-bedroom jewel box and walked HGTV through its spectacular details.

Inspiring Ingenuity

Licalzi chose Allison Berger's Counterweight Chandelier to anchor the two-story foyer. “The chandelier is both sculptural and minimalistic, but also achieves an unmistakable intentionality in its simplicity and boldness," she says. Italian scientist Galileo's pulley experiments inspired the piece: "Each arm, made of handblown glass, can be individually repositioned."

Private Gallery

Both homeowners come from a family that has collected art for generations; "displaying their art collection was a tremendous consideration," Licalzi says. "On one hand, this home is a piece of artwork unto itself, in keeping with their taste. At the same time, however, the home is also the perfect gallery for their art."

Cool Welcome

The custom, full-height wine refrigerator framing the floating staircase on the ground floor holds about 200 bottles, and is an apt asset for a couple that play host and hostess on a regular basis. "The house is set up to host both large and intimate gatherings, as they enjoy entertaining," Licalzi says.

Magnificent Minimalism

The team used Macassar ebony — a deep, subtly striped Indonesian hardwood so dense that it sinks in water and can be polished to a mirror shine — throughout the home’s first floor. The textured Stark carpet on the staircase, in turn, was individually installed onto each riser. The limestone wall that carries from the exterior to the interior at right? Custom-textured and special-ordered from Italy. In this home, even ostensibly simple surfaces are opulent.

Framing Device

A lacquered wall gives way to reveal an undulating metallic sculpture beyond the sitting area. A larger piece with complementary curves catches the sun and rests on a dark pediment beside the front door; repetitive geometry encourages reflection throughout the home.

Sophisticated Service

While the elements of this area are unquestionably cohesive, Licalzi wouldn't say she had a theme in mind for the space: "I don’t like 'themes,'" she explains. "Rather, I like things to be balanced, but with a mix of textures and shapes that is both beautiful and unexpected." She notes that keeping the clients' gleaming glassware on open shelving creates a more inviting, welcoming bar.

Statement Shapes

A floor-to-ceiling painting holds pride of place in this sitting area, and there's a very good reason the seating before it suits it so well. "The sofa was custom-made to our specifications," Licalzi says. The coffee table is from Roche Bobois. "They are the perfect choice for this space: equally impactful and softening, the curved lines of the furniture better accentuate the strong lines of the windows and artwork, bringing the eye back to the angularity of the room."

Isle of Serenity

In the expansive, monochromatic chef's kitchen, stainless steel upper cabinets complement streamlined appliances. Smooth slabs of quartzite flank the stainless face that rises behind the range and create a fantastically multi-functional, waterfall-edge island in the center of the room with a sink, a quartet of broad drawers, nooks for cookbooks and a massive prep and serving surface.

Iconic Art

The restrained palette Licalzi carried throughout the home maximizes the impact of diverging pieces like the Andy Warhol print to the left of the peninsula.

Always Open

The quartzite peninsula between the kitchen and the television area and the partial wall above the fireplace are the only interruptions in the free-flowing spaces on the first floor. (Look closely at the base of that wall and you’ll see a vivid blue piece by '80s street artist-turned-gallery artist Keith Haring; again, interruptions in the home's neutral palette are significant.)

Painterly Powder Room

Licalzi took great care in arranging her clients' art collection, and she wasn't shy about using bold works like this diptych in untraditional spaces. "The art is as much a part of this home as the architectural elements, and the powder room would feel unfinished without it," she explains. "If the idea of art is to always push the mind, then possibly, it is most welcomed in a powder room." However, consider the conditions of the room where you are selecting to place art: "One should always consider humidity and ventilation when displaying art, and certainly we took that into account."

Elemental Escape

Licalzi established a natural look in the spa bathroom by selecting warm, marbled stone tiling for the floors and coordinating stacked and flat pebbles for the wet wall behind the massive mirror and the flooring beneath the glass soaking tub (more on that in a moment).

Sun and Stone, Wood and Water

The main bath's spacious and sculptural trough sink — custom-manufactured with polished quartzite — creates a subtle contrast with the stacked pebbles' smooth silhouettes. Reflected in the mirror, the sun-striated mahogany walls of the suite's private patio offset the space's paler tones.

Royal Vessel

In many, if not most homes, a high-concept piece like a two-seated, Japanese-inspired glass soaking tub with leather headrests (!) would be considered a bold move. In Old Westbury, on the other hand, the choice to reach for Italian designer Alessandro Lenarda's stunning bathtub created for the Italian design company Gruppo Treesse was a natural one. "The tub in the master bath was the only one that really 'suited' the home," Licalzi says. "It is spectacular! I don't really consider it a separate piece, as it is such a perfect continuation of the architectural elements of the home."

Retreat Within a Retreat

While many of the spaces in this home are designed to allow maximum access to one another, the casual patio beyond the bathroom suite offers the luxury of solitude, and a private relationship with the outdoors. "We wanted something that wouldn't overwhelm or compete with the architectural features," Licalzi says. "Smaller scale, simple furniture," was the goal, she says, "and we used white and blue to provide a contrast with the wood."

Reflecting Pool

A 60-foot pool unfurls between the cabana and the yard's broad lawn. A darker stone surround for the spa area and the terraced steps offset a pale stone surround that echoes the crisp white metal panels on the home's overhangs and the cabana.

Above and Below

The horizontal strokes of the panels in the terraced lawn repeat in the pool's concentric square steps. As seen from the cabana, that stepped theme repeats again in the home's rear roof lines and overhangs.

Introductory Geometry

When arranging your outdoor furniture, "first, think of your sightlines," Licalzi says. "If there is a view, seating should be arranged so that all can gaze out on it. Then, consider the most direct pathways to and from the grill, pool, kitchen, etc., and be sure to avoid those areas when placing furniture." At this property, the lounges are arranged for maximum enjoyment of lush foliage in the 2-acre backyard.

Work and Play

The teak-and-linen seating that greets guests who duck into the cabana after a swim is both hardy and versatile. “Most of the furniture in the cabana is from Restoration Hardware, however our clients already had a Brueton piece that can serve either as a dining table or as a game table,” Licalzi says. [Brueton is a 96-year-old American manufacturer known for its “highly stylized” pieces, and for being one of the first companies to produce stainless steel furniture.] “I personally love pieces with dual functionality in a space like this.”

Pieces for All Seasons

Licalzi chose the patio and pool deck's table, chairs and lounges to create a harmonious transition from the cabana. "The outdoor furniture that was selected requires little maintenance, which is ideal, and can stay outside without any covering," she says. "We didn’t want the furniture to combat the cabana pieces and wanted the powder-coated look."

Great From All Angles

"Light was considered from the very inception of this project, as it is [in] every project," Stumer says. "We spend an enormous time considering light and shadows because it will greatly affect how a person feels in a structure." That care is readily apparent on this exterior stone wall, where sunlight creates a dramatic crisscross pattern as it passes through the slats extending beyond the second story.

Outdoor Sculpture

The oversized, steel-clad window on that same face is another example of that diligent attention to detail: as it juts outward, it creates a diagonal shadow on the stone that counterbalances the diagonal lines both built into and cast upon its surface.

Here Comes (Some) Sun

Stumer chose white metal paneling for projecting overhangs and frames for slatted structures at the front of the house. “Large overhangs and slats are used specifically to cut glare and soften the light where the natural exposure is more than what might be desired,” he explains.

Earthly Paradise

The home's visual relationship to its surroundings is especially lovely on fall evenings, when exterior lights wink on to illuminate its rich mahogany walls and the old-growth forest beyond it echoes those fiery tones. "Certainly, this home is spectacular in all lights," Licalzi says, "but I think it’s most beautiful at dusk, when it has an ethereal quality."

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