There’s nothing complicated about this house: just classic American style
PHOTOGRAPHY: REID ROLLS
WRITTEN BY: DAN MAZZARINI
In a Nancy Meyer’s movie, our introduction to this amazing client would be called a “meet cute.” Instagram was the matchmaker, bringing this amazingly chic client to my DMs. She - like so many (myself included,) was inspired by the cinematic, casual yet elegant look of Ms. Meyers interiors and wanted us to create something for their family house in Long Island that would have the same appeal. And she wasn’t afraid of a white sofa…or 7.
The couple was moving from the city to their first home - a five bedroom colonial set on three acres - and as many first time home buyers, they were looking to feel established in both look and feel in their new place. We set to work in an effort to give the house the easy-breezy treatment, with a mix of off the shelf, vintage and custom items to make it feel collected over time.
"Using a lighter, more reserved amount of items allowed us to more evenly spread design and dollars throughout the two floors."
From the start, we made judicious decisions on where to spend and where to save. Using a lighter, more reserved amount of items allowed us to more evenly spread design and dollars throughout the two floors. Our team started by added architectural detail in the form of trim and millwork: new beams in the living room, and a new v-groove ceiling in the eating room. When it came to finishes, our client wanted something “different” - not just the same white oak floors she’d seen so much of, so we had the existing all refinished in a custom gray ceruse. Walls were painted different hues of white throughout, to align with the sun's movement throughout the day. Updates to lighting were improved to be both functional and visually additive to the spaces.
The double height entry was simply dressed with a console table from Bernhardt, and vintage ottomans from Beall and Bell. Walls were painted Benjamin Moore Silver Satin, and the custom cerused floors received a white painted border.
Furniture was gathered from a number of resources - favorite vendors like Visual Comfort, Ralph Lauren and Ballard Designs were blended with custom designs. As we gained trust, we took bolder steps, like suggesting back-to-back matching custom sofas in the living room. The move may have cut the room in half, but the result was two smaller, more intimate seating arrangements, both facing the windows. It made sense, and it works.
Is there anything better than a big round table? Here, the vintage looking table is new, from Bobo Intriguing Objects. The chairs are a mix of Restoration outdoor Klismos with custom cushions in Clarence House fabric, and wingbacks from Ebay, reupholstered in Holly Hunt leather. Overhead, an open black iron lantern from Visual Comfort adds a little eyeliner to the light and lovely space.
"Durable and chic at the same time."
Vintage finds were added throughout, for that layer of “crunchy,” as I call it. An Empire tilt-top table anchors one end of the living room, topped with a modern piece of art and lamp. Nearby ebonized vintage frames from the Paris flea market have new life housing original ink drawings by a favorite artist. In the family room, a pair of old demi-lune tables was cut down to create 2 semi-circular coffee tables.
Even with 7 white sofas (yes…she really did it…), durability was a must. I mean, you want your sofas staying white…right? Indoor outdoor fabrics were the name of the game for upholstery. Underfoot, polyamide and other durable materials were used – the rugs in both the living and family rooms are indoor outdoor – durable and chic at the same time.
A vintage flip-top Empire table is layered with graphic hatch-pattern art from Michael McGuire, a John Richard lamp, and accessories from Tom Dixon and Tiffany. The chair is Bolier, in Clarence House boucle.
"The easy-breezey treatment, with a mix of off the shelf, vintage and custom items to make it feel collected over time."
A great way to add interest to a space is with scale. Here, we used artful furniture pieces and strategic art and lighting to accomplish a visual mix. Extra tall floor lamps and a custom oversized mirror in the living room are unexpected, and a tall zinc “wingback” chair in the sunroom is a conversation piece. In the family room, decorative ceiling lights were added to polka dot the ceiling with a little black, and a vase was artfully placed on top of a vintage sculptors table for place of pride.
Easy does it, with an off-the-shelf Ballard sofa, Restoration Hardware zinc chair, and coffee table from Mecox Gardens. The roman shades are Rogers and Goffigon, and the walls are Benjamin Moore, Morning Dew. Art is Isabel Bigelow via Sears Peyton Gallery.
Putting this house together with this very special client was a true joy, and made so much better when we revealed it to them. It was a summer evening, and the candles were lit, French music was playing, and the sheers were gently blowing in the breeze. They walked through the house, silent (I found out later they were actually speechless.) The best part: they remain dream clients still to this day – we’ve completed kids rooms, bathrooms, and are currently redesigning their kitchen.
Creamy dreamy for sure, the primary bedroom is a mix of light colors. Walls were papered in Cowtan and Tout Valencia wallcovering, and windows were dressed in the subtle moire from Zimmer & Rohde. The bed and nightstands are Bolier, and topped with Sferra bedding and an Aero lamp, respectively. The chair is HBF, in a Kravet fabric. The Mosquito bench from Arteriors was reupholstered in a Moire from Schumacher.
Sometimes a house is the backdrop to a story; sometimes – like in Ms. Meyer’s movies – it’s also a main character. Cheers to houses that inspire us – there’s nothing “complicated” about that feeling.