When you’re Iris Dankner, you don’t just entertain; you entertain in multitudes. In fact, the New York socialite, designer, breast cancer survivor and highly visible fundraising dynamo (she almost doubled revenues for the Susan G. Komen foundation and founded Holiday House to raise money and awareness about the disease) is most comfortable in a crowd.
So when Dankner went looking for a Southampton getaway 10 years ago, she knew she wanted a gracious yet sizeable home that could accommodate large gatherings. “I always loved Farrell homes,” she says of the construction company helmed by Joe Farrell, whose highly detailed custom residences are fixtures of the region. Unfortunately, the one she fell in love with—a white-trimmed Shingle-style home with generous public spaces and an open flow—got away. But, as she recalls, “He had another property nearby where he was planning to build a similar home.” With the location being just minutes away from Little Peconic Bay, Dankner instead purchased that property and, with the help of architects James McDonough and Michael Conroy, “was able to make a few changes to the existing plan,” she says.
The most substantial modification, remembers builder Steve Pryzby, Farrell’s vice president who took over the build once Dankner purchased the home, was “a master bedroom deck that extended much further out than was planned. We had to structuralize the columns by adding steel and footings.” A happy accident created a generous loggia by the pool for lounging.
The interior boasts signature Farrell details, such as coffered ceilings and a two-story foyer that has a view straight out to the backyard and pool, which provides, says Pryzby, “that wow effect.” For Dankner, it is the moodsetter she wanted. “You step in and you feel like you’re away,” she observes.
An inveterate traveler, Dankner is often away herself, and almost every year she alters the décor, sometimes radically, after each trip. For the master bath, she hauled a 19th-century French mirror from Paris’ Marché aux Puces across the ocean, while Guatemalan fabrics and a folk art giraffe infuse her daughter Niki’s red bedroom with ethnic flair. The family refers to the loggia under the master deck as “Belize,” because artifacts from a trip there decorate the table and landscape designer Tom Janczur’s potted plantings of elephant ears give it an exotic aspect.
The master deck itself morphed after a trip to Costa Rica—its patterned carpet and wire furnishings exuding a tropical charm. “I just love the outdoor spaces found in the Caribbean,” she says.
Throughout the public spaces, Dankner deployed a palette of white, brown and blue, allowing one color to dominate in a certain room and recede in another. Brown, for example, takes center stage in the moody dining room, so that, “the white paneled walls could pop more,” she explains. But, this is the Hamptons, so white rules the roost in the living room and sunroom, which are separated by a double-sided fireplace.
Outside, Janczur concentrated on placing ferns and low-flowering plants, “that seem like a woodland carpet,” he says. “Since the home sits on the main street, I tried to avoid making it seem like we stuck in a garden where it doesn’t belong.”
The lush setting fulfills Dankner’s need for multiple entertaining areas while telegraphing a relaxed, no-nonsense elegance that befits its breezy, beachy locale. So whether Dankner decides to host a large poolside gala or a close friend stops by at a moment’s notice, the dignified hostess is always ready.