I must have looked at 100 properties over a six-month period,” says artist Chuck Price, reminiscing about how he and his wife, Candy Pratts Price, editor-at-large for Vogue.com, rented various houses in the Hamptons starting in the 1980s before finally purchasing a property in Water Mill in 1993. “Then I picked up a copy of Dan’s Papers, and there was a picture of this perfect red barn. As I drove down the driveway with the real-estate agent, I said, ‘This is it!’ Meanwhile, I hadn’t even laid eyes on the barn.” That long-winding driveway hasn’t changed since that first day; it’s still shaded by old trees and gives nothing away until the end.
“Being a city girl,” Candy continues, “I always said to Chuck, ‘What I want is privacy.’ In my imagination I needed a 20-minute driveway. When he told me he had found it, I didn’t care when he added that there wasn’t a house on the grounds. I had my privacy.”
If privacy was key for Candy, for Chuck it was a sense of place, an environment where he could sculpt and paint. Since the age of eight, art has been Chuck’s calling. He used to accompany his grandmother into the fields in Jamestown, New York, about 90 minutes south of Buffalo, where she would go to paint. “I was the only one of her 11 grandchildren who was interested in art,” he says. Inspired by a diverse group of artists, from Brancusi to Sigmar Polke to Lucas Samaras, Chuck’s work explores forms in nature that he feels are neglected. “Think of the little wishbone,” he says. “Or the simple bean. I try to glorify these beautiful organic shapes.” Today his work can be found at Antony Todd in Manhattan, Youngblood in Sag Harbor and Lon Hamaekers in Water Mill. His collectors include Leonard Lauder, Diane von Furstenberg and Diego Della Valle.
The property, just shy of an acre, came with a more than 150-year-old pig barn that had been converted into basic living quarters—plus, a little shack built for storing farm tools and a pool. This assemblage became the couple’s year-round oasis, verdant with pine hedges, fruit trees and hydrangea bushes. Chuck turned the shack into a space for painting and assembling collages and created an outdoor studio where he could sand and polish his sculptures. “I love to work on different projects simultaneously; it keeps me stimulated to move back and forth,” he says.
In 2007, after 15 years of living with one bathroom and in tight quarters for themselves and any visiting family or friends, they decided to build a proper house. The architect was an easy choice. Candy had seen New York–based Michael Haverland’s glass-and-steel house in the Home section of The New York Times and had fallen in love with its timelessness. “They appreciated its mix of the new and the old. So I applied the same idea in their design,” Haverland says.
Finished in 2009, the 2,600-square-foot rectangular flat-roof house dazzles with natural light pouring into its great rooms, the largest of which contains the living, dining and kitchen area. The decor, collected over time and from their travels, is a personal wonderland of sophisticated glamour without a speck of pretension or artifice. Furniture is meant to be used, as the extra-long sofa anchors the living room like an elegant barge, ready for naps or conversation. Chuck’s art and artistry are everywhere as well, from his giant oil paintings and smaller watercolor collages to designing the unusual framed fireplace made from a treasure trove of Dorothy Draper–mirrored pieces that once graced the lobby of Hampshire House in Manhattan.
When Candy, as famous for her bon mots as she is for her talent—ever since working at Bloomingdale’s, where she gained fame with her window displays before later joining Vogue in 1988—told Chuck, “I want to be in a Venetian palazzo in our bedroom,” he planted wisteria on their balcony to make a living mural to mirror the hand-painted one Candy found for the wall. She had much to say about the pool, too: “I didn’t want one with a goddamn garbage bag on top,” she says, admiring the year-round “pond” Chuck and Haverland designed and filled with salt water so they wouldn’t have to ever smell chlorine. Beyond the pool, and in perfect view from the house, sit the original barn and shack, which Haverland decided should be treated as living topiaries; the barn was even painted hunter green. “It was the only way to integrate them, and it was important to us that we not lose these structures we had lived with for so long,” says Chuck, who looks at what they’ve built as a living tapestry that reflects a life of mutual talents and passions they can share with family and friends.
Chuck Price can be reached at Charles Price Studio (631-726-6233; charlespricestudio.com). His work is also available at Antony Todd (antonytodd.com), Youngblood (631-725-6260) and Lon Hamaekers (lonhamaekers.1stdibs.com).