On a Sag Harbor Hillock

Two boxes with a glass slot between them and a ziggurat layout
Blaze Makoid’s design made ample use of glass and geometry Blaze Makoid

   It may be an exemplar of modern architecture, but the house that the architect Blaze Makoid built for his family sneaks up on you. Tall and angular like its designer, the 2,900-square-foot building, on a Sag Harbor hillock, blends in with a profusion of greenery, in part because its exterior cedar is stained black. Its size comes as a surprise because it has a ziggurat layout, starting at the street as a two-story house and expanding to three as it progresses down a 14-foot slope toward Upper Sag Harbor Cove.

    “The black background more or less hides what we wanted to do,” Mr. Makoid said one Friday in June, looking up at the five-year-old house, where he lives with his wife, Tracy Mitchell, the executive director of the Bay Street Theatre, and their young daughter, Alex.

    They made full use of the small lot: “Every corner of the house, both horizontally and vertically, we moved out all we could,” he said. Strips of cedar along the exterior corners perfectly match the color of the masonry stucco at ground level.
“This one was fun. The Hamptons are pretty flat, and this was a much more vertical building.”

    Tucked close to the house is an 8-by-16-foot swimming pool. Above it, up the steps of the ziggurat, is a deck and a screened-in dining area.

    Inside, the sense of verticality is heightened upstairs, where a footbridge of sorts crosses between two sections of the house above the foyer. As you head from the children’s bedroom and the guest room over to the master bedroom, you can see out of floor-to-ceiling glass to the wooden planks of a walkway leading to the street. Looking in the other direction, the view is down to the lawn, the grated-fiberglass planks of the dock, and the water beyond.

    “It’s a glass slot between two boxes,” the architect said, “in line with the pool and the dock.”

    The muted colors of the exterior are reflected inside, with a limited palette used throughout. The bathroom floors are black slate, for example, and the teak cabinets are the color of caramel.

    The main level features connected living, dining, and kitchen spaces in an open floor plan. Really open — the entire glass wall facing the cove accordions away for a plein-air effect worthy of a tree house.

    On one side of the long room, the kitchen has unusually high marble-topped counters. Mr. Makoid stands 6-foot-5; Ms. Mitchell is 5-2. (“Though she’ll tell you she’s 5-2 and a half,” her husband said.) It’s an unusual case of the design of a house signaling who inside it does the cooking.

    Next to these counters, a small door leads to a dog run — a means of escape for Jetsam, the family’s curly-coated retriever, who, it turns out, is often driven to distraction and needless barking at the critters and mysterious movements of the outside world that can be seen through numerous windows.

    Personal touches aside, the house appeals to Mr. Makoid because it is different from his recent work: You’d have to tip it on its side to approximate the shape of his high-profile, glass-heavy projects on the South Fork, among them a showplace called Fieldview, in East Hampton — “our first ground-up job; it got a lot of attention” — and a newer house on Daniel’s Lane, on the ocean in Sagaponack, which he called a milestone.

    His firm is working on some 12 residential projects at present, almost all on the waterfront. The staff at Blaze Makoid Architecture in Bridgehampton now numbers a dozen, he said, surprise in his voice at having become a “local employer.”
“In the past two or three years the office has taken off. We’re where I was hoping we would eventually be.”

    Mr. Makoid, who grew up in Philadelphia and was trained at the Rhode Island School of Design, gives his staff free rein to generate ideas. “And then I’m the one who makes sure they boil it down to the right thing. The quality has only gotten better.”

    “A goal I don’t have is to have people say, ‘That looks like a house that Blaze did.’ I’m also not interested in pushing some unconnected academic agenda. While the work always falls under the modern aesthetic, all of it takes on different features. There’s something new each time.”

Accordion windows open the living room to a view of the cove.
A view of Upper Sag Harbor Cove out the living room windows.Durell Godfrey
In the bathroom of the master bedroom, it’s like showering outdoors. Durell Godfrey
The entrance way features a wall hanging made from a photo of acorns taken by the couple’s young daughter. A view from the street of the “glass slot.” Durell Godfrey and Blaze Makoid Photos