A windswept landscape of fresh interiors and barefoot ease, the Hamptons usually adheres to classic coastal signifiers like sisal rugs and nautical stripes. But this particular family home constructed by builder and developer Yale Fishman of Hamptons Luxury Estates in New York City’s favorite escape doesn’t follow the look found on most Pinterest boards.
“This is my take on Hamptons blue and white,” explains designer Bennett Leifer, referencing the custom rug in his clients’ great room. A saturated expanse of silk and wool, The Rug Company creation at first looks understated—until a pair of white leopards appears on the oversized tapestry, confidently encircling the card table that sits upon it. Neither ferocious nor demure, the leopards add a thrilling energy to the space. “You can see what you want to see in the motif,” Leifer says, continuing, “I think that’s what all design is about.”
After discovering the designer’s work online, the clients—a New York couple with three children—reached out and tastes aligned immediately. “They’re a beautiful family and live so elegantly in their everyday life. The way that they wanted to live in their Hamptons weekend residence was in line with everything else I had observed,” notes the designer of their elevated approach to seaside style.
Newly constructed by Fishman, the home offered a clean slate. “We loved the open plan of the space, but it needed color,” says the wife. “Bennett’s idea of adding saturated tones strategically throughout while still keeping things bright was transformative.” Adds Leifer of his inspiration, “The house has such beautiful, unobstructed views and you see so much sky, so I wanted to pull in a lot of that outside color.” Blue then became the home’s decorative raison d’etre, with Leifer guiding the palette through sophisticated gradations.
The indigo leopard carpet kicks off the color story in the great room, echoed in upholstery accents and reverberated in the adjacent family room. Various seating areas allow the soothing space to breathe easy, inviting small or large groups. The kids can do homework at the center table, someone can read on the sofa and the stage is set for dégagé cross-conversation when entertaining. The rug’s rich tone melts into watery hues in the newly outfitted bar area, where alongside Fishman, the designer installed lustrous, handmade Italian tiles and opted to spirit away a television in favor of lacquered shelves to display glassware and treasured objects.
The room’s soaring ceiling—a graceful feature executed by the developer—meant Leifer had to address volume at the outset. To bring composure to the sea of white, he enlisted an artisan to paint and gild the existing paneling. He also designed the mirror above the fireplace to exacting scale. Leifer and his clients considered many options when it came time to choose the room’s chandelier, but ultimately, a commanding porcelain fixture by Lladró was selected. “It’s such a good representation of them,” Leifer says. “It has an air of classicism. I wouldn’t say they’re particularly formal people, but they’re sexy and sophisticated in the way they move and dress. Similarly, this chandelier has formal lines to it, but it’s a modern take.”
That same spirit—elegant without the heavy expectations—would envelope the project in full. In the thistle-toned master bedroom, a toile headboard suggests tradition while lacquered nightstands ensure things stay kicky and contemporary. And in the office, a pair of creamy midcentury modern chairs Leifer spied in France pop against a graphic botanical wallpaper. “Bennett had the amazing idea of bringing the outdoors in,” says the wife. “All of the flora, fauna, feathers, shells and animal touches throughout the home truly make the surroundings of the area feel ever-present.” But while many notes indeed reference the Hamptons setting, moments of surprise and delight are just as plentiful. One example: The foyer’s custom settee, whose upholstery depicts a tropical jungle scene—fine company for the great room’s idiosyncratic leopards.
For Leifer, whose personal tastes lean stylishly transitional, the dining room’s photograph of Versailles by Robert Polidori best encapsulates the project ethos: “It sums up my own design aesthetic, as well as the feeling of this home—a beautiful place caught in a casual moment,” Leifer says. “I want you to walk in and think ‘This is so beautiful!’, but I want you to feel really comfortable, too.”