Architect and designer Lauren Rottet's Montauk home cherishes its past while celebrating its future.
The sweeping exterior of Rottet’s home in Montauk.
The home was originally designed in 1959 by famous furniture designer George Nelson and Gordon Chadwick, a protege of Frank Lloyd Wright. The original house was owned by O.W. Johnson and was located in Montauk Point. Johnson sold the property in 1989 to other owners, not knowing that the new owners planned to tear it down. This demolition plan created a determination in Johnson’s son, Richard Johnson, to build a nearby replica of the original home. Johnson saved original built-ins, lighting fixtures and more, allowing for the new location to maintain the first house’s integrity. In 2012, the home was sold to Lauren Rottet.
A rattan sofa from Rottet Collection pairs with a locally made table and stools from Homenature
Homeowner Lauren Rottet is the founding principal and president of Rottet Studio, an international architecture and design firm. Rottet completed mass renovations to the Montauk house in 2018, though the interior is never complete since the designer uses it as her ever-changing canvas. Not only is Rottet a highly awarded architect, she was the first woman in history to be elevated to fellow status by both the American Institute of Architects and International Interior Design Association. Some of her other awards include Interior Designer of the Year, Interior Design Hall of Fame and multiple Chicago Athenaeum Awards.
Above the bed hangs a work by British artist Danny Rolph
For 10 years Rottet searched for a home near her Los Angeles office, desperate for a house with a view of the ocean. In 2011, she asked her business partner if she could stay in their Hamptons home. While there, Rottet learned of a house in Montauk designed by beloved furniture designer George Nelson. Rottet visited the house one evening, and the next morning confirmed she wanted to purchase it. Rottet and the real estate agent made a deal: Rottet gets the home with its original furniture. Thus, Rottet inherited the home along with Nelson’s Marshmallow sofa, a 1950s Maguire rattan table and stools, vintage chandeliers from the 1950s and ’60s and a Paul McCobb credenza. Although it isn’t the West Coast house she’d intended, Rottet traded the Pacifi c Ocean for Lake Montauk.
A George Nelson-designed Marshmallow sofa alongside a Kiki Smith self-portrait on handmade paper from William Shearburn Gallery.
While in the beginning Rottet planned to change a lot, with time she began to love the place for what it was. After cooking Thanksgiving dinner in 2014, she decided to keep the kitchen the same, renewing only the appliances. Rottet worked on restoring the home to its original condition, maintaining the 3,200-square-foot space’s historic charm. The main focus of the renovation centered around the first floor (the house has two floors), the pool and the landscaping. What once was the downstairs utility room was reformed into a bedroom and bathroom with a lovely view of Lake Montauk. Rottet also added a lap pool in the side yard.
Mascioni towels and Rottet Collection linen hand towels.
Restoring such a classic and aged property came with challenges for Rottet. Oftentimes products used in the original structure had been discontinued. A lot of the built-ins contained unusual material, making it difficult to repair or replace. Additionally, Montauk is at the end of Long Island and the location proved a slight burden, especially for craftspeople. Some were hesitant to travel as far out as Montauk for small and tedious tasks. With a climate that is salty and windy, landscape restoration became a process of trial and error. It took Rottet five years to figure out what could grow and thrive and what could not.
Vintage lamps from John Salibello complement the bed and bedside tables from the Rottet Collection.
A screen vintage to the home in front of a float table and chairs by Rottet for the Rottet Collection.
The most characteristic part of the Montauk house is its geometry. Not a single corner makes a 90-degree angle. Each room is a hexagon, creating purity, efficacy and ease of wind blowing throughout the home. This shape allows rooms to be fully utilized, a harder thing to do with square rooms. Outside of the geometry, the house features a vast array of neutral colors and a combination of different material elements including stone, wood and marble. Rottet added bright, even neon accents around the house resulting in the two themes of historic and chic. The art collection ranges from classic pieces like an original drip painting by Larry Poons to pieces closer to home like a $10 painting from the Montauk yard sale.
Dining table and chairs by Royal Botania from AB Modern.
Lounge chairs by Royal Botania from AB Modern.
Photography by: Top to bottom:
EXTERIOR PHOTO COURTESY OF SCOTT FRANCES;
PORTRAIT BY SHAYNA FONTANA; OTHERS COURTESY OF ERIC LAIGNEL