Every designer dreams of clients who simply get it. For Monica Fried, those clients were Joanne Diamond and Michael Bass. Keen collectors with an ever-expanding roster of contemporary artworks (by the likes of figurative painter Jonathan Wateridge, multimedia artist Mindy Shapero and sculptor and painter Yoshitomo Nara), the couple desired an art-forward yet approachable beach home—an irresistible brief for the designer.
For years, Joanne and Michael had sought a place out East to comfortably accommodate their blended family of five children plus grandchildren. Eventually, they found their answer in a new-construction residence in Southampton. Behind the classic shingled facade, the dwelling offered plenty of bedrooms, a pleasing open floor plan, ample windows providing an abundance of sunlight, and a clean, modern canvas to showcase art. Upon viewing it for the first time, Fried intuited that the house had potential to transform into a haven at once personal and made for hosting, elevated but still casual. In essence, a home that captures the many facets of who this family is and how they live.
Naturally, art was at the core of that transformation. The couple—who works closely with Los Angeles-based consultant Cardiff Loy—saw the project as an opportunity to acquire new pieces that would celebrate the interiors. Fried refers to the den as a primary example. To make it a space where the family would want to curl up together and watch movies, the designer employed a warm orange palette for a cozy atmosphere. “We went for a yummy pumpkin mohair sectional, bringing in an almost retro, 1970s color,” she notes. Pointing to the vibrant metallic artwork that hangs on the wall, Fried adds, “I think the couch inspired Joanne’s selection of the Mindy Shapero piece above it.” In the living room, another artwork—a verdant painting by Jonathan Wateridge—was similarly deployed to make conversation with the greenery beyond the windows.
Furnishings were curated to converse with the surroundings, too. Take the living room’s Christophe Delcourt sofa, whose sinuous shape draws visitors into the room and toward its wall of windows in a welcoming embrace. Fried found this piece, as well as the free-form wooden cocktail table that nestles in its curvature, on a sourcing trip to Paris. Thankfully, her gutsy clients were game, even from afar. “Some people would never purchase an item they haven’t seen in person, but Joanne and Michael were excited to,” notes the designer of that table—a find from the Paul Bert Serpette antiques market. “Monica and I had the same vision,” adds Joanne. “So when she said that the coffee table and sofa were standout pieces that we needed, I trusted her.”
Yet beneath the pedigree of the home’s hero acquisitions, the designer never lost sight of the fact that this is, at heart, a house by the sea for a lively, social family. As such, comfort and utility thread through each decision. “Everything is wipeable and usable,” Joanne affirms. “Monica chose fabrics and furnishings that are beautiful but work for constant use.” Which means that no one lives in fear of upholstery getting ruined by wet bathing suits or of cocktails being spilled on rugs—both key considerations for this family of entertainers.
As Fried points out, the dining room, with its table that seats 14, is especially ideal for languid summer evenings in the company of friends. “Can’t you see dinner parties in there lasting well into the night?” Fried muses. “The chairs are so comfortable and relaxing. It’s a space you want to sit in for hours.” That room, like every other, evokes a spirit of easy yet sophisticated living. “That’s exactly what we wanted,” concludes Joanne. “An everyday house with style.”