At Home With Matt and Monica Frisbie - 27 East

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At Home With Matt and Monica Frisbie

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A view from the back deck.  DANA SHAW

A view from the back deck. DANA SHAW

The living area with a view of the loft, which is accessible by drop-down ladders.    DANA SHAW

The living area with a view of the loft, which is accessible by drop-down ladders. DANA SHAW

Matt and Monica Frisbie in the kitchen of their home in Amagansett.  DANA SHAW

Matt and Monica Frisbie in the kitchen of their home in Amagansett. DANA SHAW

The living area at the Frisbie home on the beach in Amagansett.  DANA SHAW

The living area at the Frisbie home on the beach in Amagansett. DANA SHAW

The living area at the Frisbie home on the beach in Amagansett.  DANA SHAW

The living area at the Frisbie home on the beach in Amagansett. DANA SHAW

The view from the back deck of the Frisbie home on the beach in Amagansett.  DANA SHAW

The view from the back deck of the Frisbie home on the beach in Amagansett. DANA SHAW

An example of some of the beachy decor in the Frisbie's  Amagansett home.     DANA SHAW

An example of some of the beachy decor in the Frisbie's Amagansett home. DANA SHAW

An example of some of the beachy decor in the Frisbie's  Amagansett home.     DANA SHAW

An example of some of the beachy decor in the Frisbie's Amagansett home. DANA SHAW

A view of the loft, which is accessible by drop-down ladders.    DANA SHAW

A view of the loft, which is accessible by drop-down ladders. DANA SHAW

An example of some of the beachy decor in the Frisbie's  Amagansett home.     DANA SHAW

An example of some of the beachy decor in the Frisbie's Amagansett home. DANA SHAW

An example of some of the beachy decor in the Frisbie's  Amagansett home.     DANA SHAW

An example of some of the beachy decor in the Frisbie's Amagansett home. DANA SHAW

An example of some of the beachy decor in the Frisbie's  Amagansett home.     DANA SHAW

An example of some of the beachy decor in the Frisbie's Amagansett home. DANA SHAW

Orson Frisbie fillets a striped bass for dinner on the beach.    DANA SHAW

Orson Frisbie fillets a striped bass for dinner on the beach. DANA SHAW

Windows on the top deck reflect the ocean.  DANA SHAW

Windows on the top deck reflect the ocean. DANA SHAW

A view from the top deck at the Frisbie house in Amagansett.   DANA SHAW

A view from the top deck at the Frisbie house in Amagansett. DANA SHAW

Prescott Martin shucks oysters on the bottom deck.  DANA SHAW

Prescott Martin shucks oysters on the bottom deck. DANA SHAW

Family, friends at pets enjoy an evening on the back deck.

Family, friends at pets enjoy an evening on the back deck.

Family, friends at pets enjoy an evening on the back deck.

Family, friends at pets enjoy an evening on the back deck.

Family, friends at pets enjoy an evening on the back deck.

Family, friends at pets enjoy an evening on the back deck.

Matt Frisbie, right, with his brother Orson at work on the meal in the kitchen.  DANA SHAW

Matt Frisbie, right, with his brother Orson at work on the meal in the kitchen. DANA SHAW

The kitchen.  DANA SHAW

The kitchen. DANA SHAW

The kitchen.  DANA SHAW

The kitchen. DANA SHAW

Orson Frisbie and Monica and Matt Frisbie in the kitchen.  DANA SHAW

Orson Frisbie and Monica and Matt Frisbie in the kitchen. DANA SHAW

An old photo of Orson and Matt Frisbie hangs in the living area.  DANA SHAW

An old photo of Orson and Matt Frisbie hangs in the living area. DANA SHAW

Orson Frisbie and Monica and Matt Frisbie in the kitchen.  DANA SHAW

Orson Frisbie and Monica and Matt Frisbie in the kitchen. DANA SHAW

Friends and family gather in the living area.  DANA SHAW

Friends and family gather in the living area. DANA SHAW

The back deck.  DANA SHAW

The back deck. DANA SHAW

The back deck.  DANA SHAW

The back deck. DANA SHAW

Friends and family gather in the living area.  DANA SHAW

Friends and family gather in the living area. DANA SHAW

An example of some of the beachy decor in the Frisbie's  Amagansett home.     DANA SHAW

An example of some of the beachy decor in the Frisbie's Amagansett home. DANA SHAW

An example of some of the beachy decor in the Frisbie's  Amagansett home.     DANA SHAW

An example of some of the beachy decor in the Frisbie's Amagansett home. DANA SHAW

An example of some of the beachy decor in the Frisbie's  Amagansett home.     DANA SHAW

An example of some of the beachy decor in the Frisbie's Amagansett home. DANA SHAW

The upstairs deck at the front of the house.  DANA SHAW

The upstairs deck at the front of the house. DANA SHAW

Matt Frisbie chats with Jessica Kerr and Laura Mayo.   DANA SHAW

Matt Frisbie chats with Jessica Kerr and Laura Mayo. DANA SHAW

Family and friends enjoy meal on the back deck.   DANA SHAW

Family and friends enjoy meal on the back deck. DANA SHAW

Family and friends enjoy meal on the back deck.   DANA SHAW

Family and friends enjoy meal on the back deck. DANA SHAW

The front of the Frisbie's Amagansett house.  DANA SHAW

The front of the Frisbie's Amagansett house. DANA SHAW

Monica and Matt Frisbie at age 13, with friends on the beach in Amagansett.

Monica and Matt Frisbie at age 13, with friends on the beach in Amagansett.

By Kelly Ann Smith on May 22, 2024

Matt and Monica Frisbie are a rare breed of Hamptonites. They grew up in Sag Harbor and East Hampton respectively, met at the movies when they were teenagers and got married years later on the beach in Amagansett. They raised daughter Tilly and grew a prosperous retail business here, despite the odds.

Leonard Frisbie, the clothing line Matt named after his grandfather, is the “Hamptons’’ lifestyle brand that larger corporations want to emulate but fall short. Leonard Frisbie works because it’s not forced. It was created organically.

At the first hint of summer, the couple celebrates by opening the Frisbie family beach house and cooking a seafood pasta dinner with friends, coworkers and family.

Designed by architect Andrew Geller in 1958, the A-Frame, as it was named, is nestled low in the Amagansett dunes. The house alone is something to celebrate. It is only the second in a string of playful, summer homes that Geller designed on the East End through the 1960s.

It is an amazing house not only in its uniquely simple design, but because it still stands. The barely 1,200 square-foot house represents a place in architectural history while offering a sense of timelessness.

Visitors are often awe-stricken when entering the oceanfront property. It might take a minute once inside the uninsulated space to adjust to the rawness of the materials.

The living room and outdoor deck share the same cedar flooring. “All we do is hose it down, when it gets dirty,” Monica said. “It’s like a boat.”

A ladder located in front of the kitchen counter operates by a weighted pulley. Used in the down position, the ladder leads upstairs to the “master” bedroom loft.

Look closer and you’ll notice nooks and crannies that house more mattresses, storage spaces and hidden bath and shower rooms. A couch is built into the length of the wall, facing the sea.

When you think you’ve settled down, you notice the nature, and the magical light that has attracted painters and poets to the area.

“No one wanted to live here in the ’50s, after the ’38 hurricane” said Matt.

His grandfather Leonard Frisbie, a stockbroker, was not fazed by fear of the unknown, and commissioned Geller to build a home similar to the one he built in Sagaponack for Elizabeth Reese.

“She was a single woman,” Matt said. “She wanted to pull the ladder up so no one could get her while she slept.”

“My grandfather came to know Andrew Geller and really loved his work,” he said. “It was really inexpensive to build.” The total cost for building the home was $10,000.

“He was frugal, a cheapskate,” Matt said of his grandfather.

To be fair, Geller was frugal too. He was known to use shortcuts and the least expensive materials on the market, but that’s what made the homes so popular. They were meant to be affordable, a completely foreign concept in today’s real estate market.

“It takes a couple days to get used to,” Monica said. “It’s a lot like camping. It’s hard to sleep because of the sun.”

It’s worth it though, to wake up to whales breaching offshore. “They seem to be more active in the morning,” Matt said.

The cedar house remains untouched, aside from the replacement of the odd floorboard. The wood allows the house to dry out between rainstorms without rotting.

The Frisbies insulated the blink-and-you-miss-it guest house, but they are taking it out. “It’s not holding up as well because the moisture gets stuck,” Monica said.

“Geller’s designs were precursors to modern architecture,” Matt said. “They’re boxy playhouses built for fun. There are two other Geller houses in the neighborhood.”

“It’s like a club. We have dinners with the homeowners,” Monica said. “People find each other.”

Monica and Matt found each other when they were in the seventh grade, after a screening of “City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly’s Gold” at the East Hampton Cinema. The movie may have been a bust but the couple made a connection. “Matt’s friend dared him to ask me out,” Monica said.

Monica grew up in Northwest Woods. Her father, Joseph Russo, had a plumbing and heating business, and her mother, Donna Russo, who died of breast cancer in 2010, was the East Hampton School District clerk.

Matt’s father, Bill Frisbie, was a computer programmer. “A computer nerd whose passion was music,” Matt said. Bill was playing guitar in Hampton Bays when he met Matt’s mother, Anne Marie Minicucci. “She was a groupie,” he said of the future homeopath.

“Matt used to come here to Amagansett in the summer, and I used to go to Indian Wells,” Monica said. “So we used to meet halfway.”

Like her mom, Monica went to the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan. When her mom got sick, she came back to East Hampton and worked as a manager at the Maidstone Arms, although she yearned for something more creative.

Matt had been living in Lima, Peru, surfing, between 2002 to 2007, when the couple reconnected during one of his visits back home. They wed at the beach house in August 2009, during Hurricane Bill. “Ironically, his father’s name,” Monica noted.

Matt never had any formal design training but fell in love with Peruvian cotton and always begins with the fabric. “He was always a very tactile person,” Monica said. “He likes good sheets.”

Leonard Frisbie Home can’t be far behind.

Leonard Frisbie died in 1993, a year before the couple met as kids, and Bill Frisbie passed away last year. Both men and the home they lived in are the designer’s biggest influences.

“The beach was always a happy celebratory place full of music,” Matt said. “My father always had a band of local musicians jamming.” Still, it wasn’t all kumbaya.

“My father introduced me to the ocean and to surfing, which has been a great inspiration in my life. He always rode a boogie board, and since he was my dad and had introduced me to the waves, he felt he had the right to drop in on as many as he liked,” Matt recalled. “In the surfing world it’s called a ‘burn,’ and it’s generally a big no-no.”

“What we love about this house is that it’s a throwback in time,” said Monica, who sketched the company’s logo, a cross section of the A-Frame which represents the “A” in Leonard.

“I wanted clothing to feel like this house and embody the Hamptons style,” Matt said. “Be dressed up, dressed down, transition from beach to nighttime and all that jazz.”

The colors are muted and neutral, reflecting the sand, sea and sky. The styles are made for comfort, from Pima cotton, and sometimes alpaca wool, in Lima, Peru. Styles are named after their friends, and their friends are used as models for advertising and on the website.

Matt started small, importing T-shirts and creating private labels for retail shops like Barneys New York. When Barneys went out of business he had the confidence to create his own line, Leonard Frisbie, in 2019.

The first shop, at 78 Main Street, Sag Harbor, is in the alleyway across from Sagtown Coffee.

Last year, a second store opened at 55 Main Street in East Hampton, in the alleyway next door to Tutto Caffe.

“I like to be next to coffee shops,” he said. Alleys have a certain European flair, and cheaper rents. But no siestas here. The shops are open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Unless there are waves.

Leonard Frisbie is opening a women’s shop next door to the original on Memorial Day weekend. Think super-soft shirt dresses. That’s more than enough reason to celebrate.

Matt’s younger brother Orson Frisbie, his girlfriend, Laura Mayo, who works for Leonard Frisbie, Leonard Frisbie manager Jessica Kerr and her boyfriend, Prescott Martin, “an avid Leonard Frisbie consumer” who works in Washington, 15-year-old daughter Tilly, and Penny, their mini dachshund are all gathered around the kitchen and patio.

Orson caught a 15-pound striped bass from the beach, which he gutted and deboned on a stand built for that purpose, soon to swim in a sea of red sauce.

A pot of pasta boiled on the stove while the women mixed negronis and the men popped open beers.

“This is the first summer without Dad, and this is his birthday,” Matt said. “He put us all together.”

Everyone dug into the seafood pasta as the sun set and the sky turned pink.

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