A second home welcomes with an open concept, child-friendly stairs, and new baths
The plan was all about the plan when Alex and Jennifer Figueroa bought this cedar-shingled beach house in East Hampton, Long Island, a little more than a year ago. The parents of two young boys, Alex, a banker, and Jennifer, a speech language pathologist, could see in the 2,500-square-foot home a perfect place for their sons, Hudson, 4, and Easton, 2, to run and play. The couple, both of whom live and work in New York City, would use the ’70s house as a weekend and vacation home, as well as a short-term rental property.
They wanted to convert the chopped-up first floor to an open-plan living space, gut renovate the kitchen and bathrooms, and make the whole house a family-friendly place to relax. Posting their project on Sweeten, a renovation platform connecting homeowners with vetted general contractors, they quickly found a design/build firm that they wanted to hire. Here’s how they elevated a great shore house to make an ultimate getaway.
Guest blog post by homeowner Alex
We purchased the house and plowed into renovations immediately. With two young kids, we were anxious to get this beach-house dream going. We also knew it would make an excellent Airbnb and wanted to have the house ready to list before summer.
The house, which was built in 1979, had five bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms. It needed a refresh. We wanted to give it an open, modern beach-house feel, and were looking to reconfigure the first floor to an open-plan concept, which would require not just knocking down a wall but removing essential, load-bearing beams.
We also knew we would need to work on the staircase, which looked dated and was not to code. It had a railing, but was essentially open, and unsafe since a kid could literally duck under it and fall through, or climb over. Since the stairway goes to the top floor, wrapping around to ascend nearly 2.5 stories, it was a definite safety hazard. We knew too, going in, that we’d have to do gut remodels of the kitchen and bathrooms, which had never been renovated.
We started on the first floor. Our Sweeten contractor had warned us that revising the floorplan would be the biggest part of the project, and it was. The kitchen, which was nestled in the house’s center, had a wall that contained a support beam. That essential wall, which separated it from the foyer, was the one we wanted to do away with. It took removing multiple load-bearing beams but that wall came down. From our contractor’s suggestion, we lowered the ceiling a few inches to conceal the perimeter beams making the ceiling entirely flush and with no seams.
Now, the first floor is completely open and the space that was once three separate rooms—the kitchen, dining room, and den—is one continuous area. The change gives the home a much more open and airy feeling, letting the light filter through.
We felt so pleased with the merging of the rooms into one large space that we reinforced it in other ways. Instead of replacing the dated floor tile that we tore out of the kitchen with the large faux-concrete slabs we had purchased, we decided to do the entire ground floor in the same hardwood flooring. Our contractor urged us to consider this as it would give the downstairs a cohesive look. We’re glad we listened, as it looks sleek and seamless.
The install day for that island was really an exciting milestone. Our open plan now had a center.
The successful reconfiguration of the downstairs led us to the next big task: The staircase remodel. We had a good idea of how we wanted to approach it. Safety was the primary concern, but given that the stairs are a focal point as you enter the home, looks also mattered. We decided on wood-trimmed glass panels placed vertically to create a transparent enclosure, making the staircase safe while staying true to our goal of light and openness.
The kitchen came next. We felt excited about this part of the project. We love to cook and entertain, so our design included a large island that could be a gathering spot. We splurged on a wine fridge, quartz countertops, and an integrated refrigerator but otherwise kept the open kitchen fairly simple.
Our Sweeten contractor customized Ikea cabinets with walnut panel doors and adding a panel along the ceiling for a higher end look. We built out the big island with counter seating and a five-zone induction cooktop. The install day for that island was really an exciting milestone. Our open plan now had a center.
With the kitchen under control, we moved on to the bathrooms. We gave each one a different look, with a contrast of black marble and minimal white in the master, ocean-blue cabinetry and hex tile in the guest bath, and a console sink in the first-floor powder room. We’ve realized, now that the bathrooms are in use, that we are thrilled with the large-format porcelain slabs we chose for the master bath shower. The expansive, smooth surfaces with minimal grout lines give the room a clean look and are practical from a cleaning perspective. We love the result.
Throughout the process, our Sweeten contractor was a reliable asset. He found a solution to every snag and never said no to a request. He was always available to answer questions and we felt at every step that his goal was to make us happy.
For us, the biggest challenge was distance. East Hampton is a two-hour drive from our home in Long Island City, so we had to manage our project from afar. On a lot of weekends we made same-day round-trips to check in on the work and gauge our progress. The payoff came when the finishes went in and months of planning materialized. The space came out exactly as we hoped it would and we are happy with the decisions we made.
All this, thanks to a very good plan.
Thank you, Alex and Jennifer, for sharing your home with us!
LIVING SPACE RESOURCES: Wall paint in Bakery Box, #BL-W9: Behr. Fireplace mantle tile in Realta II: Cement Tile Shop. Custom glass doors: Crystalia Glass. Living room built-in cabinetry: custom millwork by Sweeten contractor.
STAIRCASE RESOURCES: STUDIOC WOW drop tiles on risers: Crossville Studios.
KITCHEN RESOURCES: Cabinets customized by contractor: IKEA. Walnut panels: Semihandmade. Pental quartz countertops and backsplash: Avenza. KitchenAid microwave/oven: Build.com. Refrigerator/ freezer: Fisher & Paykel. KitchenAid wine refrigerator, KitchenAid dishwasher, Samsung induction 5 burner cooktop: Best Buy. Meurice Chandelier: Jonathan Adler. Carlisle Metal counter stools: Threshold.
MASTER BATHROOM RESOURCES: 4” Hexagon Fosso marble floor tile: Nemo Tile. Stone Calacatta black smooth porcelain wall tile: Florim. Kallista hardware: Build. GrohFlex Essence dual function thermostatic trim shower fixtures with control module: Grohe. Crystalia glass shower doors: Custom by contractor. Mason Apothecary single sink vanity: Pottery Barn. Infinity rectangular wall mirror: CB2.
GUEST BATHROOM RESOURCES: 4” hexagon Griglio Cielo marble floor tiles: Nemo Tile. Stone black smooth porcelain wall tile: Florim. Kallista hardware: Build.com. GrohFlex Essence dual function thermostatic trim shower fixtures with control module: Grohe. 60” Kendall blue bathroom vanity: Houzz. Infinity rectangular wall mirror: CB2.
SECOND FLOOR LANDING RESOURCES: 30-light chandelier: Lumens.
Remodeling in the Hamptons? Read our Hamptons home renovation cost guide to understand your budget.
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