The Screen

Photographs by Costas Picadas

An extreme intervention is sometimes the only way to create the perfect space. Once the three above-ground floors of this home were completed, Betsy Morgan turned her attention to what was once a low-ceilinged, ugly mechanical room. To give it the spacious feeling she wanted was going to take more than paint and new furniture. “We didn’t need to excavate,” says Morgan, “but if we hadn’t, it would have been cramped. Now it truly feels like a room.” The process involved clearing out about two feet of rock and soil, going straight down. Walls underwent a process called “under­pinning”—stabilizing the structure while extending the foundation downward. Morgan hired the architectural firm Messana O’Rorke to supervise the delicate earth removal, which also involved buttressing the side walls during digging. “We had to reroute the pipes and all the vents as well,” she notes. The ordeal of excavating over, Morgan set the mood she wanted: a relaxed, Moroccan-­vacation vibe.

A tin ceiling was removed and the existing beams were cleaned up. One of the arches framing the photograph was originally a coal chute. They’re now glassed in and lit from behind. A Panasonic projector was installed overhead. The sofa is from Design Within Reach; interior designer Betsy Morgan found the armchairs and coffee table at Marika’s Antiques of Shelter Island. The polished concrete floor makes the space feel more finished. The Moroccan rug was found on Etsy, and is complemented by a pair of silver poufs by Calypso Home. Photo: Costas Picadas

Architectural details like floating steps and a glass partition keep the room feeling light. Photo: Costas Picadas

Before. Photo: Costas Picadas

“I wanted something with a cinematic theme,” says Morgan of the iconic Bert Stern photograph of Marilyn Monroe, “something large enough to counterbalance the scale of the projection screen.” The table is by Saarinen, the chairs by Phillipe Starck. “They’re classic and clean,” Morgan notes, “and contrast nicely with the more rustic ceiling.” Photo: Costas Picadas

The Screen