With its mom-and-pop antiques shops, local, seasonal restaurants, and Victorian homes on close-knit lanes, the quaint seaside town of Greenport, New York, is easy to fall for. Just ask Brent Pelton. It was over dinner in the summer of 2011, while visiting for the weekend, that the Manhattan lawyer and recreational sailor became immediately enamored with the old whaling port. Now, he’s made the briny hamlet—which sits in the heart of Long Island’s vineyard-dotted North Fork region—his part-time home. But while most would be content to hoard their discovery, retreating to the confines of a private house, Pelton has established his roots in the community by creating a place where he can share his love with a new generation of seafarers.
Last fall, Pelton purchased a spit of land known locally as Stirling Square, a compact pitch just off Main Street comprising three low-rise buildings surrounding an inner courtyard. This year, he has reinvented the property as American Beech, a stylish yet laid-back five-room boutique hotel and restaurant that makes you feel as though you just stepped off a boat and into your best friend’s summer home. To master the residential feel of the space, Pelton collaborated with New York City–based design firm BHDM, and his friend—not to mention Lonny favorite—Dan Mazzarini. “Brent wanted the space to feel seaside and nautical, but also understated and modern,” says Mazzarini of the relaxed atmosphere in the guest rooms. “We looked at iconic imagery but didn’t want to beat anyone over the head with it.”
So instead of classic navy and blue, Mazzarini and Pelton opted for a whitewashed gray palette that is intended to function as a point of visual respite after a day at sea. Each room serves as a small-space take on a traditional carriage house, complete with Carrara marble–topped kitchenettes, plus gabled ceilings and painted wood floors—two original architectural elements that were maintained despite a gut renovation of the building’s plumbing, heating, and electrical systems. But to keep the interiors grounded in the present, Mazzarini introduced durable, hospitality-friendly pieces, which he colorfully refers to as “cheap and cheerful,” including metal beds from RH, accordion sconces from CB2, and custom zinc ottomans. Indoor-outdoor touches from the sisal-like carpeting on the floor to the tree-trunk stools evoke the look of driftwood throughout.
The focus on natural materials continues in the restaurant, where nautical stripes make a more prominent appearance—beginning with the space’s distinctive flooring. If the guest rooms are meant to mimic the look of classic seaside cottages, the atmosphere here is more like a cool, deconstructed boat deck. A custom sailing cleat and rope installation delineates the bar from the main dining room without obstructing the view, and homemade rope artwork recalls the boating knots that were used by 19th-century seamen. Historical details mingle with modern styling, from the contemporary bar stools to the striped banquette seating. “We wanted to offer something back to the community,” says Mazzarini. “Though we’re referencing what the town of Greenport had been in the past, we’re primarily reflecting where the town is going.” No doubt Pelton’s coastal retreat, which will expand to include Sterling Square’s two additional buildings in the next two years, will play a large role in shaping that storyline in the years to come.