“Each of our bungalows has its own spirit,” Robert McKinley says of his design firm’s lavish yet laid-back homes that have come to define the aesthetic of far East End interiors. (A co-founder and mastermind behind the bustling Surf Lodge, he knows a thing or two about beachside ambience.) Whether in traditional New England Cedar Shake Houses or Ranch Style homes a stone’s throw from popular beaches in Montauk, each of McKinley’s bungalows are shoppable destinations seamlessly enmeshed in their natural surroundings and imbued with a laid-back coastal cool. That’s because he packs them with his studio’s favorite products—from linens and housewares to appliances and even furniture from Monea, his own furniture and lighting collection—that intermingle with carefully selected vintage furnishings and blue-chip artworks emblematic of his own rigorous yet relaxed approach.
His latest bungalow, a 3,800-square-foot waterfront escape perched on a picturesque Montauk bluff overlooking the bay, is no different. “The location of the site is truly an oasis, tucked out of view of any other houses or structures,” he says of the house, named Captain Balfour. “The vista is unobstructed and the sunsets are front and center.” Those twilight hues saturate the house’s creamy and deep sandy neutrals, lending a sunny ambience to an interior replete with white-washed wood paneling that complements statement pieces like vintage teak credenzas and armoires anchoring many rooms. Lending further coastal touches are rattan lighting fixtures and custom backsplashes with longtime partner Heath Ceramics, whose seaweed green, warm white, and taupe tiles forge spa-like environs in the bathrooms. That’s not to mention the pool house and private beach. “Locations like this transport you away from the outside world,” McKinley says.
Below, he walks us through his five favorite spaces in the bungalow.
The primary bathroom is anchored on a floating wall that encases the sinks. Heath Ceramics has a long history of inspiring partnerships with artists and designers and I’m so proud to be collaborating with them again on Captain Balfour. We conjured a deep shade of seaweed green for this space that’s used floor to ceiling. Brass taps from California Faucets are fixed on a travertine counter that is complimented by a deep walnut wood planter above the sinks with tropical fauna.
A signature feature in our bungalows is a rich, colorful room where guests can retreat to watch a movie or read a book. We used Domingue Finishes throughout the home, and Panier and Terre in the media room was definitely a departure, but it brings a sense of comfort to the space and makes sense with the ceramic tiles we created with Heath. We also executed our vision with thrift market finds from around the world, a beautiful Monea red travertine stone table top and a block of yellow with vintage National Geographic magazines.
Captain Balfour was our first shot at a pool house! So much of this property is about the view, and the vantage point from inside the structure really called on a cabana-style interior. We used a Moroccan daybed and Moroccan side tables to bring this to life, kept modern with EQ3 outdoor rugs and throw pillows, and made it a place where you could spend the entire afternoon.
The kitchen features one of my favorite subtle details in the home. Our studio designed a custom light fixture with Lucetta Lighting that doubles as a pot rack to hang over the kitchen island. It’s very covert—at first glance it appears to simply be four wood boards, but the incredible LED technology from Lucetta is embedded into the bottom edge shining down on the travertine counters.
We partnered with Beni Rugs throughout the home and in the living room we layered their Rasa style on a large patterned jute rug. Beni uses the highest quality live wool and each piece is handwoven in Marrakech, so it brings so much richness to the space. We also designed a new coffee table for our in-house furniture collection, Monea, which lives in the space. It consists of three cylinders with gray stone circles on top at varying heights. I’m so happy to introduce this piece at Balfour and then make it available to the wider community.