I Could Live Here: Atlantic or Pacific?

If I had $13.5M for a house on the beach, would I spend it on a boxy retreat in Montauk or a 1980s showpiece in Manhattan Beach?I have a split geographical identity, which has just been exacerbated by a visit to the East Coast intended to calm my cross-country yearnings. I have spent exactly half of my adult life in New York and half in the Bay Area, and I continue to love both places equally. But since my family is East and my livelihood is West, I consider myself ambi-coastal, which means I use the left coast for everyday living, and the right coast only when familiar comforts (pizza) and traditional seasons (white Christmases) are necessary. But somewhere down the line, I'd like to turn ambi-coastal into bi-coastal, in which case I'd need a beach house on the Atlantic (and a mountain home in the Sierras, but we'll get to that in another post).

Something in Montauk (the only bearable-and surfable-town in the Hamptons) would be nice and convenient to get to from NYC. Perhaps something like this newly built modern box where I could have my California sensibility with views of an ocean warm enough to swim in and sand perfect for a lobster bake:

Other than this minimalist gem, there are lots and LOTS of weathered shingle–sided, multi-paned windowed, white-trimmed beach houses for sale—the ones I spent Rhode Island summers in as a kid, ones you can smell just by looking at them. I love those houses but I don't think I'll ever reconcile my dual identity enough to go authentic New England without a touch of California. Because it was precisely those humid Rhode Island and Connecticut summers, with an LL Bean tote filled with pink-and-green bathing suits and eyelet sheets on the bed, that made me yearn for California, where i could wear a neon Bodyglove bikini with rollerskates and play volleyball on a wide beach (in my fantasy I was obviously much more coordinated than I actually am). Little did I know that during those daydreams (1985-86 to be exact), there was a house being built to fulfill all my fantasies in a place where neon bikinis and frozen drinks in hurricane glasses and animal-shaped windsocks (all things refused to me by the Yankees who raised me) would be in fashion for eternity—Manhattan Beach's Strand. The house is a 1980s time capsule with original furnishings and fixtures and shockingly it's designed by Ray Kappe, who I have come to admire as a early adopter of eco-architecture, so I can't help but love it for his sake. And for the same $13.5M, I could live here and invite friends and family from the East Coast to enjoy it ALL YEAR ROUND:

So maybe in my bicoastal life, there will be a beach house in the OC and a mountain house in the Catskills... but wait, that sounds about as appealing as an Orange Julius (milk and orange juice - gross!!!)?  No, I'd rather go for the minimalist beach house in Montauk (where I'll serve cocktails in neon plastic hurricane glasses) and I'll search for a shingled mountain home in Tahoe (where I'll put my hats and gloves in my monogrammed LL Bean tote). Perfect. 




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