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Jul 18, 2008 3:13 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Idea House combines best of old and new

Jul 18, 2008 3:13 PM

Living well and living environmentally responsibly are not mutually exclusive concepts, according to the organizers of the fifth annual Hamptons Cottages and Gardens Idea House.

Hamptons Cottages and Gardens Editorial Director Barbara Dixon said on Friday that the main thrust of this year’s Idea House is for people to see that sustainable, or “green” living does not mean sacrifice. “We really wanted to bring more consciousness that you can have a wonderful home that is sustainable at any price-point,” she said. “We are beginning to see that sustainable design can be luxurious and that the marketplace has really stepped up to the plate to meet consumer demands.”

Set to open this weekend, this year’s Idea House will combine historic relevance with green sustainability in a reworked and modernized setting at a 150-year-old Sagaponack farmhouse known as Sunset Hill, formerly owned by “From Here to Eternity” author James Jones. According to Amagansett and Manhattan-based architect Seth Howe, who was hired by Sunset Hill owner Peter Sabbeth of Modern Green Homes in Sag Harbor, the Idea House is a now a hybrid of proven and modern architectural ideas.

“What we have done is respect the history of the house while moving toward the future,” Mr. Howe said on Friday.

This year’s Idea House is a remarkable, one-of-a-kind trendsetter, according to Hamptons Cottages and Gardens Vice President Publisher Eileen Ekstract. “It’s the most innovative house that’s been built out here,” she said on Friday. “The architect and designers have met this challenge and it’s been very creative.”

Now a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified house, the former Sunset Hill has been completely overhauled as a sustainable structure, though the original exterior and some interior areas still maintain the look of the 150-year-old farmhouse it is.

Mr. Howe reported that the Idea House concept for the property was born in September last year and demolition began quickly thereafter. He reported that the house looks the same as it did from the street 100 years ago but that a nearly 4,000 square foot wing was added to the original 3,000 square foot structure.

Though he is known as a creator of modern architecture, Mr. Howe said that both he Mr. Sabbeth had strong ideas to maintain the integrity and history of the structure.

“This house was definitely worth saving,” Mr. Howe said. “Another builder might have taken it and made it into a McMansion but we believed strongly in preserving this house.”

According to Ms. Dixon, the Idea House also differs from many other show houses since it was designed with a specific lifestyle in mind and that designers who contributed to the house worked together to create a cohesive living space. “Design is so much about lifestyle and who we are, it reflects our personalities ... somebody could literally move right in and live comfortably,” she said of the house that is currently priced to sell at $12.9 million.

In all, 23 designers, one landscape designer and a design director worked side-by side on the earth friendly house, in which rooms flow together into one overall complementary environment, according to Ms. Dixon.

“The home, which was an unbelievable project this year, flows together without squashing any of the individual designer’s talents,” she said. “There is a wow factor from the minute you drive up the driveway.”

A gala reception opening will be held on Friday, July 25, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Idea House in Sagaponack. The property will remain open every Thursday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., through August 24. Proceeds will benefit local organizations such as the Peconic Land Trust, the Child Development Center of the Hamptons, Fighting Chance, The Nature Conservancy and The Retreat. Admission is $150 for the opening gala and tour tickets, which may be purchased at the door, are $30. For more information, visit www.hcang.com or call (646) 723-7501.

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