Is This the Best Airbnb in Montauk?

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If anyone understands the vibe of modern day Montauk, it’s Robert McKinley—as the man behind the interiors of The Surf Lodge and Ruschmeyers, he helped make it. So when he and his wife, Kate Natua, decided a few years ago to buy and transform local homes into what they called McKinley Bungalows, it’s no surprise that the properties soon became some of the most sought-after rentals in town. After all, what’s better than a home with both a sense of style and place?

This year, the couple took on their most ambitious project yet: a five-bedroom New England Shaker-style house two blocks from the beach. “It was a labor of love during the pandemic months,” McKinley says of his creation, which is getting its final touches this month and is now listed on Airbnb. With a moody earth-meets-sea color scheme—think sienna backsplashes, raw umber accents, pine wood floors, a “National Geographic yellow” front door and a coastal green kitchen floor—the couple says they took inspiration from the work of famed photographer and legendary Montauk resident Peter Beard as well as the life of Jacques Cousteau.

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One of the five bedrooms at the Edison Bungalow, designed by Robert McKinley.

Photo: By Nicole Franzen

“We were really inspired by Shaker-style furniture,” says McKinley.

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Photo: By Nicole Franzen

Dubbed the Edison Bungalow, its everyday items were carefully chosen to provide aesthetic value as well as utility. The custom-made coffee table sits at the ideal height for putting your feet up. The kitchen is stocked with Heath Ceramics bowls, hand-made in Portugal. The minimalist Floyd bed-frame invites a post-beach nap. “We always strive to look at a space not just from a visual perspective, but also in the sense of what makes you feel comfortable when you’re there,” says McKinley.

The kitchen is accented by sea-green flooring and Life Aquatic-esque blue stools.

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Photo: By Read McKendree

Design aficionados will also spot pieces from a number of other high-profile names, from Phaidon books to EQ3 couches to California faucets. “We were really inspired by Shaker-style furniture,” says McKinley, “but wanted to add in a mixture of natural materials to keep the space playful and contemporary like wood, rattan, and glass.”

“We wanted to create a space where we could let our design ideas run wild,” says McKinley.

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The walls are adorned with work by artists like Leif Ritchey, Matt Jones, and Peter Sutherland.

Photo: Nicole Franzen

Hung on the walls (in addition to Casa Vogue covers) is a collection of contemporary works by artists like Leif Ritchey, Matt Jones, and Peter Sutherland.

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And that’s just the inside. Set upon over an acre and a half of land, the Edison Bungalow also features a crystalline pool perfect for lounging. “With the Edison Bungalow in particular, we wanted to create a space where we could let our design ideas run wild,” McKinley says. The result is at once avant garde and wonderfully serene. It’s certainly ideal for a weekend, but consider yourself warned: you may just have to stay awhile.

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