How to Warm Up a Home Without Cluttering It Up

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The home’s owners, Pattie Weinberg and Scott Frances, later replaced the living room rug with a mostly white Moroccan Berber (see photo below) and were surprised that its thick wool makes the room cozier than the colorful flat-weave carpet in this photo does.

Scott Frances/Otto
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I WAS A DIDACTIC modernist, and my art collection is vintage black-and-white photography,” said architectural lensmanScott Frances. He and his wife, Patti Weinberg, who married each other at age 50, built this contemporary, 3,000-square-foot home in Sag Harbor, N.Y., in which they thoughtfully merged their possessions. “Patti came with the gentle and the classical,” he said, “and the American antiques.” Their travels together, to Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America, yielded a third subset of furnishings that needed factoring into the equation.

The couple agreed early that the site, on a 12-foot rise with views of a nearby cove, demanded a modern house with copious windows, but Ms. Weinberg, an insurance broker, imposed a condition: “I said I didn’t want a cold, one-dimensional house.” The pair turned to architect Hal Goldstein, of New York firm Janson Goldstein, whom Mr. Frances admires for his way with materials.

Throughout the house, unpolished woods retain their inherent warmth. Unfinished walnut beams canopy the open-plan great room, and knotty white-oak floors, though sealed, are left naturalistically matte. Though the couple added color with their worldly acquisitions, the coziness comes largely from earthy textures as well as pieces bearing bumps and bruises. “We don’t mind patina,” said Mr. Scott. “It shows age and authenticity.” Here, a room-by-room guide to the home’s soulful modernity.

How to Warm Up a Home Without Cluttering It Up



Photo:

Scott Frances
Warm and Fuzzy

In the seating area of an open-plan, single-story house in Sag Harbor, N.Y., the curves of Bertoia diamond chairs, an Edward Wormley sofa and a Warren Platner chair and ottoman offset the cool rectilinearity of architect Hal Goldstein’s structure. “Color isn’t the only way to add warmth,” noted Mr. Goldstein. Indeed, the homeowners noticed an uptick in homeyness when they replaced a vibrant Caucasus flatweave rug with this thick-pile Moroccan Berber. The unusual placement of a bucolic oil painting and New Guinea mask around the fireplace also counteracts rigidity. “What we’re looking for is not symmetry but balance,” said Mr. Goldstein. “Symmetry is formulaic.”

How to Warm Up a Home Without Cluttering It Up



Photo:

Scott Frances
Layers of Meaning

In the master bedroom, homeowners Patti Weinberg and Scott Frances turned to organic materials—the bamboo and paper of the vintage Noguchi floor lamp, woolen throws, the heavily figured mahogany of the credenza—for character. The blended styles of a midcentury recliner, a traditional cotton matelassé coverlet and the tribal rugs also soften the room. Said Ms. Weinberg, “I like eclecticism, and I love this moment.” The Philip Pearlstein painting used to hang over her parents’ bed. “It’s cool and comforting to have their stuff around.” Mr. Goldstein noted the unconventional earth tones of furnishings. “Earth has a lot of colors to it,” he said.

How to Warm Up a Home Without Cluttering It Up



Photo:

Scott Frances
An Anti-Lawn

For the same reasons the couple didn’t want the interior to appear “decorated,” they eschewed a manicured lawn. Landscape designer Joseph Tyree talked the couple out of a mixed meadow. “He said it wouldn’t last, that it would grow full of weeds.” Instead, the pair chose fescue, a grass requiring little water, which crowded out weeds and, left to grow, “is like a recording of the wind,” said Mr. Frances. Alaskan cedar siding will gray with time.

How to Warm Up a Home Without Cluttering It Up



Photo:

Scott Frances
Age and Beauty, Simultaneously

Pieces in the dining area of the great room—namely a jute rug and chairs framed with metal like bendy pasta—also mellow the house’s hard lines with natural materials and shapes. Mr. Frances scored the German Bauhaus chairs on eBay, and appreciates the chips and dents in their off-white paint. “We don’t like heavily restored furniture,” he said. “The signs of age on these things carries the soul through.”

How to Warm Up a Home Without Cluttering It Up



Photo:

Scott Frances
Reflection Objection

Though Ms. Weinberg feared the slickness of this backsplash in her country kitchen, the charcoal glass reflects the verdant view through the opposite windows. “When you’re standing at the stove, you see the water and the green,” she said. Overhead architectural lighting is minimal but sufficient. The couple prefers the intimacy of pools of light created by fixtures such as these vintage pendants. Light “should be a little puddle you want to be in,” said Mr. Frances.