Roll into Montauk Shores, the oldest mobile home park condominium in New York state, and you’ll see all the aluminum siding you’d expect. But here, in what they call “Montauk’s best-kept secret,” tiny plots can go for $1 million, thanks to the park’s stellar location: a bluff overlooking 1,000 feet of oceanfront in what’s arguably the most popular town in the Hamptons. Keep driving through the park (watch out for the kids and bikes and surfboards that are everywhere), and you’ll find one that belongs to East End designer Alicia Murphy. This thing does not look like it came off of a flatbed truck. Coated in cedar shingles, with white oak flooring and Thassos tile purchased in Southampton covering the interior, Murphy’s home also doesn’t look like it was prefabricated in a factory in Indiana. The 800-square-foot trailer is an L-shape, not quite a double-wide but a one-and-a-half-wide, an idea her boyfriend Chris Growney and their architect, Anthony Hobson, came up with to allow them to have two bedrooms and two bathrooms but still maximize outdoor space. Despite their sleek custom kitchen, you’ll find Murphy and Growney, along with his two boys and most likely a slew of friends, eating pretty much every meal outside in the generous dining area on the back deck.
The trailer park at Ditch Plains is a social place; everyone’s homes are small, so people spend their time outside. (It’s the beach, after all.) A few nights ago, in fact, Murphy and Growney hosted 14 guests for dinner. The trailer’s deck features wide, stadium-like stairs that act as perches for casual eaters. The family’s full-time home, thirty minutes west in Amagansett, is a 4,000-square-foot traditional house. “Out here, we pushed ourselves to be more modern,” says Murphy, who stuck to a constrained black-and-white palette. She researched small Japanese homes and minimalist Scandinavian design before beginning her work on the trailer. “When it’s a small space like this you can splurge a little, so I thought, let’s do paneling on the ceiling,” she says of the stunning 14-foot pitched ceiling in the trailer. Unlike the rest of the construction, the raising of the roof happened on-site in Montauk (the trailer had to fit through every tunnel from Indiana to Long Island). That high ceiling, peppered with skylights, gives the home a bright, airy feel, apt for a beach getaway. “The placement of windows and skylights inside and the shading tree and sunset views outside make the home feel like it’s in just the right place,” says Growney.
Murphy knew from the beginning that the best part of this trailer would be found beyond its walls, beyond the fire pit even, and out to the wide open landscape, the people, the ocean. Most of the trailers at Montauk Shores, complete with 1970s wood paneling and burnt orange shag carpet, are just places to sleep. Murphy knew that her family wouldn’t be spending much time inside the home, but the fact is that it does sometimes rain. “This isn’t California,” she says. “There are days we have to be inside, and I wanted the interior to be comfortable, not too campy.” You won’t find a TV in their trailer, just a record player and a sofa. The weather station on the roof—which shows wind, humidity levels, and other cool things Growney needs to know for surfing—is as high-tech as it gets. “When we first bought it, we never realized we’d live here full time in the summer. We thought of it as a weekend getaway, and now we can’t believe we created something we enjoy this much.”