There’s no doubt that the Hamptons is one of the hottest go-to summer vacation spots. When warm weather rolls around, socialites, celebrities and the who’s-who of New York City head to the Eastern End of Long Island for beach days and rosé dinner party nights. Though the signature architecture of the summer destination might bring to mind traditional shingled houses, there’s a wealth of vastly decorated estates.
In her new book Out East: Homes and Gardens of the Hamptons, author (and Southampton resident herself) Jennifer Ash Rudick and photographer Tria Giovan take readers inside some of the private houses along New York’s most irresistible shore. Observer spoke with the author about the book and her experience creating it.
What inspired you to take a deeper look at the homes and gardens of Long Island’s East End?
There is so much to discover about the East End, including bays, beaches, farms, gardens, museums, restaurants and shops. But to go a layer deeper, pulling back the curtain on how people live is one of the best ways to gain insight into the social patterns of a place. Houses are autobiographical, so what better way to explore the East End on another level than to tell the stories of a cross section of houses?
The images in this book feel like they were taken in a foreign country or faraway locale, despite being less than 100 miles from New York City. What do you think it is that makes this area feel so removed from the city?
The photographer, Tria Giovan, could make a plastic trash bag attractive—her shots have an otherworldly feel. We also try to choose houses that are transportive and her pictures did communicate that.
Some of the homes in the book seem to be richer in culture and history, while others revel in style and design. How did you decide upon each dwelling?
We really wanted the selection of houses to be as diverse as the area. Farmers, fishermen, artists, interior designers, architects, chefs, writers, you name it, they all live out here and many have been living here since the turn of the century, others just arrived. We wanted to reflect that mix in the community.
What were your favorite homes to photograph?
Of course our cover-girl, Woody House, is the whole package. Ocean front, bay front, beautiful interiors and gardens, fantastic history and gracious owners. The Port of Missing Men is such a wonderful surprise as it’s a hunting lodge on 500 acres, designed by John Russel Pope, that until recently also operated as a dairy farm, only miles from downtown Southampton. “Apple” John Halsey’s house was built from a kit—it’s so simple and sits on 40 acres that run down the ocean. This list could get long; I have a special affinity for every house in the book.
What did you learn about the Hamptons while creating this book?
It really confirmed what I realized from the moment I first visited—it’s like no place in the world. It’s impossibly beautiful. The people who live here are not only passionate about their own spaces, but also about their community. That was, and continues to be, really heartening.