Sometimes Amy Hase wonders if her husband, Manhattan-based furniture designer Todd Hase, was a French king in a former life. "He can sniff out châteaus like nobody else," she says. "We'll be driving through Normandy, and way off in the distance he'll see a suspiciously straight stand of trees. Next thing you know, we've veered off the road and are pulling up to yet another château."
The Hases travel to France frequently for business, and over the years they've visited dozens of estates, such as Château de Cany, completed in 1646 and attributed to François Mansart (great-uncle of the builder of Versailles). When they first thought about building a house on 11 acres in Bridgehampton, on Long Island, they envisioned something similar to the châteaus they'd admired, complete with a large lower-level kitchen connected by dumbwaiter to a dining room upstairs.
French château kitchens are often the oldest part of the building and were frequently left intact long after other rooms were modernized. To replicate this clash of eras, the Hases' mahogany-paneled dining room is 18th century in style, though decorated with Todd's clean-lined modernist furniture; in contrast, the kitchen has a rustic, nearly medieval feel, with stucco walls, cobbled limestone floors and open shelves. "We wanted the kitchen to look workmanlike and lived-in, not slick," says Amy, a former assistant chef. Because kitchens in past centuries were usually outfitted with movable furniture, Todd designed cabinets that are raised off the floor on ball feet. The over-mounted drawers and carved wood detailing were brush-painted by hand to create an intentionally imperfect look.