Decorating & Design - Outdoor Living

A beautiful beach cottage

Mary Emmerling

Unfinished, rustic and beautiful -- this cottage simplifies summer living.

This small shingled cottage -- just a shack, really -- that belongs to Fiona Duff Kahn and her husband, Robert Kahn, is a miraculous holdout from the developers' wrecking ball that has leveled so many of its compatriots among the increasingly valuable properties of New York's fabled Hamptons. It helps that it is in Wainscott, a tiny, low-key community sandwiched between East Hampton and Bridgehampton that until recently wasn't really on the Hamptons radar. Nestled on a small piece of property shaded by giant pines and thick rhododendrons that borders on a farm, the house has expansive views that belie its small size. It's within biking

distance of the beach, and when it's quiet, you can hear the ocean, but it feels more like a cabin in the woods.

The house was most likely a prototype of a 1940s Abercrombie & Fitch kit house that came in numbered pieces with slots. "There's not a nail in the house," says Fiona. Just 700 square feet with two bedrooms, it was built in 1947, and a spacious screened porch was added in 1952, which granted another 400 square feet of living, lounging, and dining space to the tiny bungalow.

Fiona's husband, Bob, is an architect, but this house is more her domain, left deliberately unimproved, to keep life as simple as possible. There is no electricity on the porch, which invites "beautiful dinners where the whole place is lit up by candles," and there's no heat, so it's purely a summerhouse, with a cast-iron stove for chilly nights in spring and fall.

Excerpted from Mary Emmerling's Beach Cottages by Mary Emmerling Copyright © 2008 by Mary Emmerling. Excerpted by permission of Random House of Canada Limited, on behalf of Clarkson Potter. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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