In the Hamptons, the Architectural Equivalent of an Old Sports Car

Restoring an old house can be a lot like restoring a vintage car: Plans that sound straightforward at the outset are often anything but, and one change inevitably leads to other, unanticipated changes.

Matthew Ammirati, the owner of the vintage-automobile-focused Bridgehampton Motoring Club — someone who finds few things more satisfying than restoring down-at-the-heels Porsches to pristine, like-new condition — discovered that for himself when he and his wife, Nicole Ammirati, bought a 3,100-square-foot house in Water Mill, N.Y., designed in 1980 by the revered Hamptons architect Norman Jaffe.

The couple were downsizing from a much bigger weekend house in Bridgehampton that was supposed to be an escape from their place in Brooklyn. “It was a large home with multiple bedrooms and multiple heating and cooling systems, and I just turned into the caretaker,” said Mr. Ammirati, 42, the founder of Ammirati, an advertising agency acquired by IBM; the chief

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