Step Inside Chef Eric Ripert’s Sag Harbor Oasis
Zen Buddhism inspired the tranquil design of this Long Island home
By Zoë Sessums
Photography by Tim Williams
The principles of Zen Buddhism can cover all dimensions of life, and, for Chef Eric Ripert,that was the focus when designing his Sag Harbor home. Austerity, simplicity, naturalness, subtlety, imperfection, originality, and stillness—those were the concepts the French culinary force presented to architect Blaze Makoid for his new home’s design. Considering Ripert has been seriously practicing Zen Buddhism since the mid 1990s, it was only natural for him to easily have this top of mind.
“My challenge was to create a monastery, but I didn’t want my wife to know that she was living in a monastery,” says Ripert, referring to his partner, Sandra. “I wanted her to think it was a beautiful luxurious house, which meant creating a bridge between what we both wanted: a sanctuary and a monastery.” Luckily, the Riperts were able to find the perfect team to execute their combined visions. Besides Makoid, a key member of that team was Marie Aiello Design Studio, with whom the Riperts worked on the interior design of the home. Another was Landscape Details, who spearheaded the landscape architecture. And finally, Greg Diangelo Construction, who handled the building.
“Landscaping was very important because the house is part of nature and vice versa,” Ripert says. “I wanted it to feel like the house is in a forest—cultivated and a little bit wild.” Ferns, towering oaks, and wild grasses surround the home in natural and deliberate ways. “The bedroom, in my mind, looks like a tree house. You are in the trees when you take a shower too,” he says, adding that bird feeders and statues are placed in perfect sight lines throughout the yard. Ripert notes the beauty of simply coming down the driveway—trees and animals everywhere. Naturalness and stillness: check.
Since the home is in the woods, the metal roof was a practical choice to avoid damage. The industrial look was also a perfect interpretation of the principle of austerity.
Of course, another very important aspect of the home’s design is the kitchen. Ripert being the co-owner of Le Bernardin—which has been awarded three Michelin stars for excellence in cuisine and has received four stars from The New York Times four consecutive times, making it the only restaurant to maintain that unique status for that length of time—the kitchen is a big deal. And, though the kitchen doesn’t necessarily look flashy, it is all about simplicity and efficiency. “I went to Gaggenau, the very best for building kitchens, and they made sense of my nonsense,” says Ripert, who chose to outfit his with an induction stove top, which is easy to maintain and saves energy, and worked with SieMatic on the space’s design. “It’s very effective to have a one-man show. I call it a Formula One kitchen.”
Ripert’s other passion, his Zen Buddhism practice, is most apparent in his meditation room. “It was very important for me to have that room, and it was designed with the help of a Nepalese monk—my teacher—to have the right feng shui.” Filled with statues made in Nepal that are sanctified and sealed with precious stones and prayers, the room was designed to host these pieces collected over the years. From the window, one can spot a more than 12-foot-tall statue of Buddha.
When Ripert and Sandra bought this land in Long Island nearly 22 years ago, it included a cute 1980s house, but, at a certain point, everything about the house began falling apart. Still, the couple liked the energy of the location, so they decided to rebuild. With the space complete, it’s clearly become an oasis. Chef Eric Ripert adds, “Every detail in the house was nonnegotiable.”
Judy and I celebrated our wedding anniversary at Le Bernadin the evening that it reopened after a major renovation. It was, without doubt, the finest meal we have ever had. Every aspect of the evening was perfect. Just like the Sag Harbor house as described in the article.