This story originally appeared in the August 2012 issue of ELLE DECOR. For more stories from our archive, subscribe to ELLE DECOR All Access.

For some people, too much is never enough. By contrast, Ralph Pucci has made a career of knowing when the stop. “The designer Andrée Putman taught me about what she called the ‘Poison Pill,’” he says. “That’s when you add that one extra detail that isn’t necessary—like the added spice that ruins the dish. I don’t like distractions. For me, less has always been more.”

Over the years, he has applied Putman’s principle to everything he does. He company. Ralph Pucci International, specializes in high-style mannequins for stores like Nieman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. In 1990 Pucci branched into selling limited-edition contemporary furniture and art. His showrooms in New York and Los Angeles present the work of such modernist icons as Vladimir Kagan, along with newer discoveries like Chris Lehrecke and David Weeks.

“It’s small but it’s a great place that is completely in touch with the elements. The ocean literally breaks behind their terrace.”

In his personal life, too, Pucci practices what he preaches. Last year, when he and his wife, Ann, were searching in the Hamptons for their first vacation home, they looked at several imposing homes that emanated status and style. Too much work, they decided, opting instead for a more modest bungalow situated right on the beach in Amagansett. “It’s small but it’s a great place that is completely in touch with the elements,” says their decorator, Vicente Wolf. “The ocean literally breaks behind their terrace.”

living area
In the living area, the Chinese cocktail table, Ethiopian armchair, and wood stool are all from VH Home, Wolf’s shop.

Wolf, known for his pristine white interiors, is a simpatico designer for a couple who crave simplicity. The beach house is the third home that he has decorated for the family over the years (he also worked on their residence in Greenwich, Connecticut, and a previous house in Bedford, New York). The Puccis have three grown children, who visit frequently on weekends with friends in tow. ‘We wanted a chic and sophisticated space,” Pucci says, “but one that is also all about comfort. Vicente understands our family so well. I just let him run.”

The bungalow had been built 10 years ago on the footprint of an earlier structure that dated from the 1950s. The new house has an airiness that belies its small size, with four bedrooms, an 1,100-square-foot deck and well-crafted details including 18-inch-wide wood-plank floors. “We made no architectural changes,” Wolf says. “The only thing we did was to change the doorknobs and light fixtures to make it feel simpler and more modern.”

dining room
Panton chairs surround a custom-made table in the dining area; the glass vessels by Lianne Gold and the Peter Åström drawing are from Ralph Pucci international, and the fence posts are from Indonesia.

He proceeded to freshen the walls with his favorite neutral paint shade, Benjamin Moore’s Super White. “It’s a very clear white that has the look of gesso,” he says “It really brings out the architecture and gives even the smallest detail more power.” From there, Wolf layered on more whites: Windows were covered in unlined shades that softly veil the daylight without blocking the view, while most of the furniture got beach-friendly slip-covers in outdoor fabrics.

The scheme is not entirely monochromatic. Wolf incorporated a subtle range of blues that reference the ocean—from the pale, water-colored linen on a trio of Jens Risom chairs in the living area to a guest room’s periwinkle walls and curtains. The boldest gesture is the deep-blue wall that—along with a large white grid resembling a trellis—frames the headboard in the master bedroom. When Wolf first proposed the idea, Pucci admits he initially resisted it as an unnecessary embellishment. The designer explained that since the bedrooms’ wall is visible from the living room, the graphic jolt of color would create a striking focal point for the eye—like a fountain, he said, at the end of an allée. “He told me, ‘Trust me on this one,’” Pucci says, “and he was right.”

guest bedroom
In the guest room, a Charles P. Rogers bed is dressed in bedding by Restoration Hardware, and a Bertoia chair is paired with a vintage Indonesian desk; the photographs is by Christopher Makos.

The house is filled with work from Pucci’s stable of designers. Lehrecke crafted the minimalist entry table, with its stainless steel frame and a top in ash that was steel-brushed to give it a sandblasted texture. The California-based glass artisan Lianne Gold created the cluster of translucent white and blue vases in the dining area. Wolf, whose furniture is also represented by Pucci, designed the high-back sofa and the drop-leaf dining table, which, with one of its leaves turned down, nestles beside a wall lined with a foot-foot-long bench—but an also be fully opened to seat 10 for dinner. “It’s all about flexibility,” Wolf says. “Everything here is designed so it can be moved around.”

The laid-back décor also incorporates the Pucci’s collection of art, found objects such as driftwood and seashells, and global accents culled from Wolf’s travels to such far-flung places as Ethiopia, China, and Burma. “I think those kinds of pieces make a space feel more human,” the designer says.

For the Puccis, the ease of their getaway house more than compensates for its lack of ostentation. Here, nothing is superfluous. “It’s soothing,” Ralph says. “We watch the sunrise and eat lunch on the terrace. The stars of the show are the ocean and the sky.”

Peek Inside Ralph Pucci’s Summer Cottage