Text by Hannah Jones
When Gary Henkin bought his vacation cottage in the commercial fishing town of Hampton Bays, New York, only a handful of families had resided there. “It was like the place was frozen in time,” he recalls. “The family that owned it before me had lived there since the 1960s.” The charming cottage, built in 1949, still had some of the original furnishings, which swept Gary off his feet. “I kept looking at lots of houses that weren’t my home,” he says. “When I walked in this house, I knew it was my home.”
The home is situated on a bluff at the end of a dirt road, just a few steps away from the water, which was exactly what Gary was looking for. The entire neighborhood was built by a neighbor’s relative. After World War II, the contractor wanted to keep his employees working, so he decided to build the summer cottages. They’ve stood the test of time.
Knowing this, Gary’s goal for his design was to “keep the spirit of the home.” His initial redesign had a red, white, and blue color scheme saturated in vintage finds—some pieces even passed down from the former owners. A few years later, Gary redesigned again with the same dedication to honoring the home’s heritage but added a twist. This time around, Gary opted for a more mid-century modern vibe, with warm shades of orange and rust sprinkled throughout certain rooms in the home. He painted the walls a pale gray, which reflects the nautical nature of the home but pairs beautifully with the new look.
The kitchen retained more of the blue-and-white color palette than many of the other rooms. The beaded board walls are a pale blue and the floors a luscious navy. Gary didn’t want traditional cabinetry and wanted to keep the kitchen true to style, so he had a replica of the original fridge made and added a vintage pantry. He kept the original scalloped trim, one of his favorite features, which can also be seen on the home’s exterior.
By anyone else’s standards, Gary’s primary residence is in New York City, but he likes to call Hampton Bays home. After vacationing in the Hamptons for years, he craved even more of an escape, somewhere he could come and totally relax. Nowadays, he spends nearly every weekend at his quaint cottage in the small town. “Finding this town was like a jewel,” he says. “It’s like a little hamlet in South Hampton.”