by Becca Bergman Bull  |  August 8, 2016

As the dog days take hold, anyone who’s able to heads for the hills — and by hills, we mean golden beaches, tranquil islands, bucolic woods and, occasionally, actual hills. Here are 10 examples of vacation-house perfection, from a modernist “surf shack” outside Santa Barbara to a 15th-century stone tower on a tiny Croatian island (no air conditioner required). Thanks to the deft work of the designers behind them, the rooms in these homes, whether in Eastern Washington or East Hampton, embody the repose of summer without sacrificing an inch of style. Another commonality: All take inspiration from their natural settings.

East Hampton, New York

To highlight the modernist furnishings belonging to the owners of this weekend retreat on Long Island’s East End, designer Amy Lau opted for “sandy” hues punctuated by occasional spots of bright color and form. Flanking the fireplace are Vladimir Kagan’s 1960 swivel armchair number 524 and a red Osvaldo Borsani P40 lounge chair. A George Nakashima walnut cabinet is mounted on one wall, the coffee table is by Greta Magnusson Grossman, and a David Weeks chandelier hangs overhead. The Compass dining room chairs by Allan Gould are from Polished Modern and the Hepburn sectional is from the Future Perfect. Photo by Thomas Loof

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts


In this low-slung seaside house with expansive windows, Lee Mindel and Peter Shelton (two architects who, unusually for them, did only the interior design here) paid subtle homage to the setting while steering clear of any overt nautical nods. Amid a number of pieces chosen for their organic, free-form look, a low Pierre Chapo table resembles a conch, and the arm of a Arne Vodder chaise an oar. Mindel and Shelton designed rugs for the whole house, including one in the living room meant to recall the color of water when hit by the sun and the texture of ripples in a pond. Photo by Michael Moran / OTTO

Shelter Island, New York


Architect Michael Haverland and his partner, journalist and interior designer Philip Galanes, collaborated on this light-filled house for Knoll CEO Andrew Cogan and his family. It sits atop a waterfront bluff on the bucolic island between Long Island’s North and South Forks. In the dining room, a 1930s Italian industrial light fixture from Obsolete hangs over a Piet Hein Eek table made from scrap wood that is ringed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Brno chairs produced by KnollStudio. A chimney breast made from local river rocks adds a rugged touch. Photo by Roger Davies

Carpinteria, California


Architect Barbara Bestor originally designed this “surf shack” outside Santa Barbara as a weekend retreat for photographer Dewey Nicks, his wife Stephanie, and their twins. The family wound up liking the place so much that they moved in year-round. Faced with a height restriction of 13 feet, Bestor channeled the likes of Eames, Breuer and Mies van der Rohe to create a flat, low structure flooded with light. Wide raw planks of fir, plywood and cedar add to a warm, casual vibe befitting the daily shuffle of sand and surfboards. Paul Fortune handled the interior design, incorporating the owners’ existing collection of Moroccan rugs, mid-century furniture and works by contemporary artists such as Monique Prieto. Photo by William Abranowicz

Corsica, France


In this hillside villa on France’s Island of Beauty, Parisian interior architect Jean-Louis Deniot’s highly refined, classical style is made ever so slightly— and very pleasingly — rustic, owing to the influence of the green and granite landscape beyond. For the patio, whose floor is made of gray teak, Deniot designed the upholstered daybed and a long, simple wooden dining table, which he surrounded with metal and string chairs. Inside the house, modernist furnishings by the likes of Charlotte Perriand, Jean Prouvé and Pierre Paulin abound. Photo by Ian Philips and Stephan Juillard

Coastal Massachusetts


When designing this modern version of a traditional cedar-shingled New England house, architect Thomas Kligerman, of the firm Ike Kligerman Barkley, drew sight lines on nautical charts to ensure that every room would have an optimal view. The horizon also guided the interiors, with their extra-wide windows and cypress planks running lengthwise along the walls. Designer Mia Jung finished the look with clean yet naturalistic neutrals and furniture by Axel Einar Hjorth, Hans Wegner, Hervé Van der Straeten and Kaare Klint. Photo by William Waldron

Comporta, Portugal


Like the fashionably Bohemian town in which its set — located outside Lisbon, Comporta has a “gypset” vibe similar to that of Brazil’s Trancoso or Uruguay’s José Ignacio — this vacation home is a study in laid-back chic. Modeling it on the homes of local fisherman, the French architectural team of Daniel Suduca and Thierry Mérillou created three interconnected white-washed cabanas ringed by outdoor living areas. Pieces by Alexander Calder, Giò Ponti, Jean Royère and tapestry artist Jean Lurçat blend seamlessly with carefully chosen “raw” materials such as straw, reed, bamboo and raffia. Photo by Nicolas Mathéus

Winthrop, Washington


Perched at one end of a 60-mile-long glacial valley in arid eastern Washington, Studhorse, as the house is called, comprises four small structures gathered around a central courtyard and pool. Designed by Tom Kundig, of the Seattle firm Olson Kundig, the house is built both to withstand the region’s extreme weather and to make it part of the experience, with enormous glass windows that slide open to the elements. The area is a nexus of outdoor activity, and the architect explains that having the family go between the buildings — whether in scorching heat or heavy snow — adds a sense of adventure. Photo by Benjamin Benschneider

Kennebunkport, Maine


With this summer home on a family compound, designer John Saladino undertook an unusual assignment: to build from the ground up a house that looks as if it had existed for generations while also reflecting the owners’ love of African safari lodges. To satisfy the first requirement, Saladino and his team used vernacular materials such as New England stone, cedar shingles and stained wood, even in the kitchen. In the living room, details like an uneven fieldstone floor, a woven sisal rug and a wooden elephant statue evoke the couple’s travels. Photos by Max Kim-Bee

Croatian Island


Some New Yorkers summer on Nantucket; others, like architect Steven Harris and interior designer Lucien Rees Roberts, escape to a tiny island off Dubrovnik that has a population of 140 and no cars. The couple bought a 15th-century stone house there in 2001, undertaking a mammoth renovation. Not long after they purchased and refurbished a nearby tower (seen here), which they use mostly to put up their many houseguests. Throughout the house and tower, the pair installed mid-century furnishings whose clean lines play off the heavy stone walls and large-beamed ceilings. Among the pieces in this living room are Tobia Scarpa’s Fantasma standing lamp, Børge Mogensen’s leather Spanish chair and a 1960s stone and metal coffee table from Visiona. The painting is by Peter Rees Roberts, Lucien’s father. Photo by Scott Frances / OTTO

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