For a house in Sag Harbor, New York, designer Benjamin Vandiver mixed a client's multifaceted art collection with modern, midcentury, and vintage furnishings, including pieces by Chris Wolston and Pierre Paulin for Ligne Roset.
Photo: Reid Rolls

Step Inside a Storied Hamptons Home That Was Once a Methodist Meeting House

Designer Benjamin Vandiver gives the pedigreed Sag Harbor residence a major makeover filled with vintage touches

A custom outdoor dining table is covered in grass-green zellige tiles and surrounded by vintage French oak chairs; above, a shapely Venetian chandelier by Richard Mishaan for Urban Electric illuminates the space at this Sag Harbor home.

A custom outdoor dining table is covered in grass-green zellige tiles and surrounded by vintage French oak chairs; above, a shapely Venetian chandelier by Richard Mishaan for Urban Electric illuminates the space.  Photo: Reid Rolls

Benjamin Vandiver considers himself lucky that Taryn and Sam Blank, a couple he has been working with for the last decade lives, one floor below him in an apartment building on Manhattan’s lower Fifth Avenue. “Taryn knocks on my door like a real neighbor and their kids call me Uncle Ben,” says the designer.

Such a chummy relationship may just be what saved all parties involved from embarking on a renovation that, in the end, stood in for what was truly ailing Vandiver’s art loving clients. Three years ago, the Blanks purchased a former Methodist meeting house in Sag Harbor, where it and four outbuildings sit on a rare, spacious lot in the heart of the village.

The house in Sag Harbor previously belonged to designer Steven Gambrel as well as antiques dealer Jill Dienst of Dienst + Dotter. 

The house in Sag Harbor previously belonged to designer Steven Gambrel as well as antiques dealer Jill Dienst of Dienst + Dotter.  Photo: Reid Rolls

“Their intention was to do a massive renovation: lifting the house up, digging a basement, and adding 2,500 square feet,” says Vandiver of the structure. (The property’s adjacent cottage, however, had been reimagined previously by interior designer Steven Gambrel and architect Marcus Ziemke.) But something about a swift foray into gutting, raising, and expanding didn’t sit right with Vandiver, who suggested the couple and their three children live in the existing residence for a few summers before making any big decisions. Afterall, this is a property with notable lineage: not only did Gambrel previously live there, so did Jill Dienst of Scandinavian antiques dealer Dienst + Dotter.

A handful of summers in, there was still no love lost between the Blanks and the house they wanted to fall in love with. That’s when the Vandiver decided to say the hard thing: that his friends’ misery was likely misplaced, and that it had nothing to do with square footage and floor plans.

For a house in Sag Harbor, New York, designer Benjamin Vandiver mixed a client's multifaceted art collection with modern, midcentury, and vintage furnishings, including pieces by Chris Wolston and Pierre Paulin for Ligne Roset.

For a house in Sag Harbor, New York, designer Benjamin Vandiver mixed a client's multifaceted art collection with modern, midcentury, and vintage furnishings, including pieces by Chris Wolston and Pierre Paulin for Ligne Roset. Photo: Reid Rolls

“Over the course of a couple of years, they had collected random furniture and were staring at blank walls while waiting to begin a two-year renovation,” he says. There was no art, so of course they were restless. “Once you live with art, moving to white rooms with bare walls can feel like prison. They were living in a house they didn’t chose the interiors for,” he says.

“I am not interested in a home that looks like a set piece, that doesn’t look as if anyone lives in it”

Benjamin Vandiver

Vandiver suggested a facelift rather than a top-to-bottom renovation, one that put their art collection at the heart of things. “They didn’t believe that I could turn things around, but they trusted me,” he says.

A playful gathering spot in the Sag Harbor home boasts a Ligne Roset Togo sofa as well as artworks by Chloe Wise and Marria Pratts. 

A playful gathering spot in the Hamptons home boasts a Ligne Roset Togo sofa as well as artworks by Chloe Wise and Marria Pratts.  Photo: Reid Rolls

A vibrant Jana Schroder canvas animates a living area outfitted with a Vladimir Kagan sofa and Jacques Blin table lamp, plump Michel Ducaroy Marsala chairs, and a Charles Dudouyt dining table that's paired with Pierre Jeanneret chairs at the Sag Harbor home.

A vibrant Jana Schroder canvas animates a living area outfitted with a Vladimir Kagan sofa and Jacques Blin table lamp, plump Michel Ducaroy Marsala chairs, and a Charles Dudouyt dining table that's paired with Pierre Jeanneret chairs.  Photo: Reid Rolls

Within four months and after countless conversations about which artworks would move from city to village, Vandiver created a home reflective of this family, one filled with paintings, lithographs, drawings, and sculptures the couple chose themselves alongside a dream team of advisers—Daniel Oglander, Wendy Cromwell, and Ann Cook. Adding to the mix were midcentury and vintage furnishings, as well as inherited pieces the designer relishes using in his interiors.

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“I am not interested in a home that looks like a set piece, that doesn’t look as if anyone lives in it,” he says. To boot, what was once the dining room is now the kids’ playroom, because the screened porch is where all the summer entertaining happens. “And there’s a fireplace in the playroom, which wouldn’t be the case if we had done a proper playroom,” says Vandiver. “That’s what gives it quirky charm.”

View Slideshow

Benjamin Vandiver Transforms a Hamptons Home with a Spirited Collection of Artworks

Cover: For a house in Sag Harbor, New York, designer Benjamin Vandiver mixed a client's multifaceted art collection with modern, midcentury, and vintage furnishings, including pieces by Chris Wolston and Pierre Paulin for Ligne Roset.
Photo: Reid Rolls

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