The romance of the Shinglestyle becomes popular

By: Donna Rogers
Published: 1/4/2008Source: Newsday

Having summered in Montauk all her life, Victoria Deon says, she wanted to bring seaside resort design to her main residence in Strong's Neck, Setauket. Four years ago the architect and her husband, Mark, a builder, began work on the idea.

On a 1-acre parcel with a view of Long Island Sound, the couple, both 49, designed and built a Shingle, or Hamptons-style, home. Reminiscent of rustic, turn-of-the-20th-century summer houses set on windswept dunes or high cliffs, the home is made of stone and natural wood shingles that will weather to a gray patina.

The materials, including a round copper-clad roof atop an entry porch, suggest a relaxed style of living. More rambling and informal than Colonials, this kind of home lends itself to an open floor plan, conducive to entertaining and family life.

Victoria Deon says her favorite feature of the house is a great room that forms a central hub. All the first-floor rooms are spokes leading off it, while bedrooms above look down on it. When on the first floor, she says, "no one is ever out of speaking range. It keeps it familiar, and I like that."

Natural materials

Shingle-style architecture's understated styling and use of natural materials offer a refreshing simplicity, say real estate agents and builders. A close relative to Hamptons-style (the terms are often used interchangeably), the former may be described as "less grandiose," Victoria Deon says. But the simplicity is deceptive.

"We paid a lot of attention to the details inside and out," Mark Deon says. In some cases, the elements of the home have layers of detailing. The variously shaped windows, for example, are adorned with wood trim including frieze boards, crown moldings, cornices and bead board in the soffits. The 6,000-square-foot home also has numerous cuts in the roofline made by steep Gothic-style gables and two bell-shaped roofs. "That's what gives homes a lot of dimension," he notes.

The Deons, who want to keep their children - Jak, 16, and Dominick, 5 - in the same school district, have listed the home with Coach Realtors for $3.5 million to $3.6 million. They've bought another house nearby and are planning to renovate it in the Shingle style.

From its roots in the Hamptons, this sprawling yet somewhat austere style has spread as far west as the Five Towns in Nassau. The architecture is a growing trend, especially for larger homes, and is popping up in luxury developments and custom houses in communities such as Dix Hills, as well as on the North and South shores.

Originally built as mansion-size summer "cottages" for the rich, Shingle-style houses had their heyday in the late 19th century. After the Civil War, the style was representative of the leisure time some people enjoyed, says architect Alexander D. Latham III, whose Northport and Westhampton Beach firm, ADL III Architecture Pc, serves clients who live on or near the water and repeatedly request the style.

An eclectic mix

A variation of Victorian design, Shingle architecture appeared in reaction to the lavish, ornate Queen Anne style.

Eclectic and purely American, it borrowed from other styles, according to the book "A Field Guide to American Houses" by Virginia and Lee McAlester (Knopf, $40). For example, from the Queen Anne style it borrowed wide porches, shingled surfaces and asymmetrical forms. From Colonial Revival it adapted gambrel roofs, classical columns and Palladian windows, and from Richardsonian Romanesque it took an emphasis on arches and, in some cases, stone on lower stories, foundations or trim.

Surprisingly, some Shingle-style houses are not sided in shingles at all. The term was popularized to describe a type of Victorian home in which wood shingles united complex shapes. Some examples have the style's signature asymmetrical shape, irregular rooflines and austere detailing but are made of other materials, such as brick or stone.

Although Shingle homes have turned up in every region of the United States, the style reached its highest expression in seaside resorts of the Northeast. It was made popular by New York architects such as McKim, Mead & White, who designed these homes in summer destinations such as Newport, R.I., and eastern Long Island.

Resurgence in '60s

During the 1960s a resurgence of the form in the Hamptons was led by Robert A.M. Stern. Today its proponent is prominent local architect Francis Fleetwood. In 2005 a Fleetwood design in East Hampton set a price record for a single-family home in New York State when it fetched $45 million.

Singular in this style are the porches, like those on Ed and Ana Curran's East Hampton home. Ed, 54, who is retired from the restaurant business, and Ana, 34, love to entertain outdoors, and the terraces on three levels help them do that.

High on its perch at the top of Two Holes of Water Road, the house gives guests water views of both the ocean and Long Island Sound from a series of colonnaded decks on the second floor. An open-air terrace on the third floor is reached by an exterior spiral staircase.

The 3,000 square feet of decking are divided into smaller-scale porches and landings that offer intimate spaces. The Currans, who are scaling down, have their home listed with The Corcoran Group for $4.4 million. Although the interior of the home is embellished with Hamptons-style flourishes and modern touches, the exterior is rustic, with cedar and river stone and a deck made of low-maintenance Ipe wood, a dense South American hardwood that weathers gray.

Views of the harbor

Another Shingle house overlooks Huntington Harbor. Its floor plan puts living spaces in the back of the house, above the bedrooms. A simple exterior gives way to an interior designed and angled so there are views of the harbor from all rooms, including first-floor bedrooms. A mahogany deck on the second floor provides "spectacular year-round views," says builder-owner Tony Murolo of AJM Associates Inc., Huntington.

It's in the Anoatok Beach & Dock Association area, a quiet and relaxing location, he notes. On the market with Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate for $1.299 million, the newly constructed, 3,250-square-foot house set on a half-acre brings the "beachy Hamptons-style" to Huntington, he says.

Shingle style lends itself to such a large size, or even more square footage, says developer John Macleod of Huntington. This way, the floor plan can "ramble comfortably into wings, bringing elements of style with it."

A British registered architect, he is one of the developers of Sleepy Hollow Estates at Fort Salonga, a group of four new homes of 5,300 to 6,300 square feet. The homes, going on the market this month for $2.3 million to $2.5 million, are surrounded by rolling lawns and mature trees, which give a country feeling that's true to form, he says.

Elements to be incorporated are flared Dutch gables, cross gables and tall double-hung windows with mullions in the upper halves. Each home will have a single Palladian window with flanking windows over the entryway. He says the developers are using arch tops selectively: "We don't want it to be overdone."

Timeless look

Part of the allure of a home built in this style is that it could have been built a hundred years ago - or yesterday.

When Toni Curto, owner of Curto & Curto builders, began planning her family's home in Water Mill several years ago, she took inspiration from English travelogues of centuries-old manor houses and hotels. Her home, designed by Fred Throo, principal of Architecture One in Bohemia, and now appraised at $4 million, has the feel of a Cotswolds-style hotel.

The residence, with wood shingles stained brown, multiple gables, diamond-shaped glass windowpanes and hipped roofs, suggests a version of the whimsical cottage in the woods visited by Snow White.

Inside, paneling, built-ins, detailed fireplace mantels and dentil and crown moldings also lend a cottage feel. Curto says the house is ideal for the quiet lifestyle her family leads: gardening, cooking, entertaining five grandchildren and playing with three English pointers. "When it's lit up at night, it looks like a fairy-tale house," she says.

Buyers' imaginations seem to be captured by this style. As Meg Salem, sales associate of Corcoran Group Real Estate in East Hampton, notes: "A huge segment of the market loves a traditional Shingle-style home. [They are] very much in demand."

The Hallmarks

Shingle homes, initially mansions built as summer "cottages," are deceptively simple. In contrast to other 19th century styles immediately preceding it, the style does not emphasize decorative detailing at doors, windows and cornices, but aims for a complex, sprawling shape typically unified by continuous single-toned shingles. Various steep gables, symmetrically or asymmetrically placed, and hipped (four-sided) roofs, give the Shingle style dimension. Towers are found in about a third of these homes but typically appear as slight protrusions from the house rather than as separate entities. Porches are important and often appear on multiple levels.