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All week, husband-and-wife designers Stephen Alesch and Robin Standefer cram in business meetings and crank out work. But when Friday night rolls around, they’re in their car, heading east to their Montauk beach house, where they only want to hang out. And surf, garden, and cook -- in no particular order.
Stephen Alesch and Robin Standefer’s beach house has rough exposed ceiling joists that contrast with the alpaca-draped sofa and the elegant lines of the marble coffee table. The seascapes on the wall also mix high and low: a combination of gallery purchases, Alesch’s own paintings, and flea-market finds.
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In the guest room of Stephen Alesch and Robin Standefer’s beach house, an old dresser, missing one of its drawers, was given new life. The designers placed a thin piece of wood in the empty space, then used the nook to store sets of linens.
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The Weekend Unwinding
The couple meticulously plots out each planting bed, but “we don’t mind if the vegetables escape into the flowers,” says Alesch. “And sometimes we let the broccoli and Brussels sprouts grow past their prime just because we love their blossoms.”
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In the living room, a French rope chair anchors a cozy reading corner. The walls are paneled in unfinished tambour (Alesch and Standefer used a finished version at New York’s Standard hotel).
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The outdoor shower is a must for Alesch after a trip to the beach, and the wisteria vines make it extra inviting.
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The designers enjoy an off-duty moment in their yard.
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Pick, Rinse, Eat ... Repeat
Freshly picked beets, carrots, and eggplants get a brisk wash in an outdoor sink that was rescued from a defunct mill in Massachusetts. (Alesch painted the "C" and "H" above the faucets.)
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Standefer’s tomatoes are her pride and joy. She grows between seven and nine heirloom varieties each year. “When you serve different types together, you get that variation of flavor and acidity. And they look beautiful together,” she says. “When they’re ripe and still warm from the sun, I just arrange them on a board with salt, pepper, good olive oil, and a handful of chopped fennel fronds and other aromatic greens.”
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Surf and Home Turf
It’s a short walk from the house to the beach. In the summer, Alesch can easily slip out to catch a few waves before cocktail hour.
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Alesch readies the garlic-and-herb rub for the striped bass.
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A driftwood lamp, a conch shell, and a Moroccan vase make up a textured tableau in the studio.
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Standefer, with a handful of freshly cut hydrangeas, stands next to one of several cedar tomato towers she has built.
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A collage on the refrigerator includes “at least six notes from Stephen telling me he’s gone surfing,” says Standefer.
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Crudites of young vegetables are served with pungent bagna cauda.
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The living room has a vintage French lighting fixture, a stuffed crow, and a photograph of a Louise Bourgeois spider.
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Alesch keeps his drafting table, and spare surfboard, in the studio.
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Alesch sips his morning coffee (made with home-roasted beans).
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The couples grow red, white, and blue potatoes in the garden. “We pick them when they’re the size of Ping-Pong balls and roast them on the grill,” says Alesch.
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Let It Glow
The grill area is lit from above with vintage-style bistro lights.
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Striped bass is plated with charred habanero peppers, caramelized fennel, and the roasted potatoes.
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Alesch prefers split lobsters to whole ones. He grills them, then drizzles them with herb sauce. They always serve lobsters on this antique Moroccan platter. “This combination of red, white, and blue is my kind of Fourth of July,” says Standefer.
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Standefer pours rose into glasses from her collection of 20th-century glassware.
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Alesch and Standefer worked with a local carpenter to build the backyard’s rustic table, which is made with boards sawed from a giant elm tree that fell during a storm. The candlestick holders, Standefer’s favorite, were purchased for just $20 at the Brimfield, Massachusetts, flea market.
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