A House Defined by the 1960s

Durell Godfrey Photos

    On a short, private lane near the ocean in East Hampton, a two-story house with portholes, long rectangular windows, and glass doors evokes the 1960s. It is Sal and Mary Ranieri’s guest house, and it is filled with the bright colors and artwork of that time.
    Perhaps, as Benjamin Franklin said, guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days, but the adage would not apply here. The linear aspects of the house, along with its geometric planes and arches, help create an open, welcoming space that no guest would want to leave.
    The house was designed in 1967 by the architect Hugh Hardy for Otto and Eloise Spaeth, well-known collectors of 20th-century art and longtime East Hampton residents. It was intended for Mrs. Spaeth’s later years.    
    Mr. Ranieri, who bought the house in 1999, enlisted Mr. Hardy to renovate and expand it, with an eye on the surrounding landscape. Flanked by dual outdoor pavilions, with three bedrooms and a total of 2,000 square feet, it remains relatively modest. It sits at the end of a driveway edged by cherry trees, across the street from the Ranieris’ main house, and structured gardens connect the properties.
    Tiziana Hardy, an interior designer and Mr. Hardy’s wife, designed the gardens. The bedrooms are on the first floor of the two-story house, while the living spaces are upstairs. The rooms there are bright orange with floor-to-ceiling windows that provide ample light and spectacular views.
    Furniture and cohesive touches were added by the architects Peter Stamberg and Paul Aferiat. 
    Although Mr. and Ms. Ranieri were childhood friends in East New York, their lives took separate paths. Mr. Ranieri, a lawyer, moved to the suburbs from Manhattan in the 1980s and became a full-time resident of East Hampton almost a decade ago. Ms. Ranieri, a Wall Street broker, was living in Forest Hills when they met again at a wedding. They were married in 2005.
    “He asked me to dance, and we’ve been together ever since,” she said. 
    Because their main, larger house was also being renovated, the couple spent more than a year in the reinvented Spaeth house. “There are good spirits in this house; it’s joyous,” Mr. Ranieri said
     O.L.S., Mr. Spaeth’s initials, inscribed on the single doorknob on the glass front doors, are one of the reminders of the original owners. A dumbwaiter with a rope mechanism in the foyer and glass doorknobs on the doors of the three bedrooms and two bathrooms also remain intact. Mr. Ranieri said that when the renovation was completed, “it screamed out for color.” Color is now one of the house’s hallmarks.
    Each bedroom has its own palette of either purple, orange, or blue, with matching window shades. There is a 1960s Kohler sink in a yellow bathroom, and water cascades like a waterfall from a faucet. The most has been made of tight spaces, and, in one of the rooms, a sofa converts to a bed.  
    Not only notable artwork — paintings, sculpture, lithographs — but an eclectic collection of glass pieces, ceramics, period furniture, and flea market finds fill the house. “Somewhere you relate things to each other,” Mr. Ranieri said.

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    Two Knoll swan chairs in the living room are orange and contrast with a purple couch and a canary-yellow ottoman. The Pop-style furniture also includes a white Saarinen coffee table, Knoll Jacobson armless chairs, and a marble dining room table. All of the outdoor furniture, which is sleek and lightweight, was designed by Richard Schultz
    From Alexander Calder and Frank Stella to the local artists Kirk McCoy and Oliver Peterson, the walls are packed with what might be called personality.
    A David Hockney painting hangs over the living room fireplace with two perpendicular 19th century African pieces.
    Two parts of a four-panel series by James Rosenquist, dating to 1974, are in the living room. “Like spaghetti, we stuck them [the remaining two] in the dining room,” Mr. Ranieri said. 
    The kitchen, with steel gray appliances, black science-lab countertops, and an orange clock, was condensed in size so that the dining room could be larger and a butler pantry added. A TV is tucked away on an upside-down lazy Susan suspended from the ceiling over the bar. Nearby, a framed book cover by Kenneth Noland is turned with the season; one side represents fall/winter, the other spring/summer.
    Below the only skylight that remains from the original house, a glass mobile of a fish with an interesting history turns in the light under a high ceiling. It turns out that Egidio Costantini, a Venetian glass artist, made three copies of the fish, basing it on a design by Mr. Calder. According to Mr. Costantini, he and Mr. Calder had collaborated on it,  but Mr. Calder pulled out and prohibited further reproductions.
    The Calder Foundation considers it unauthorized, while Mr. Costantini remains indignant that another artist tried to tell him what to do. “I like it, I bought it,” Mr. Ranieri said. He also owns two other Costantini pieces.    
    A metal spiral staircase designed by Ms. Hardy leads from the second floor to the roof through an industrial hatch that opens electrically. “You have a real sense of place being up here,” Mr. Ranieri said as he noted the view. The pavilions on either side of the house, one for dining and the other for lounging, also offer clear views, as well as a direct glimpse from one end of the house to the other because of cutouts in the interior walls.    
    Outside, the grounds are linear, congruous with the house. An angled pool was designed by Ms. Hardy. The gardens, by Thomas Muse, are dotted with sculpture, including a bronze fountain of a woman by Judith Shea and a “Ranieri Bench” by Joel Perlman.
    “It’s a wonderful, wonderful spot,” Mr. Ranieri said. “It’s a melding of the physical beauty out there. The intelligence of people, the architects, the artists, the landscapers. It’s a very happy, uplifting spot.” 

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