An Angeleno by way of London, designer Jake Arnold has worked primarily on the West Coast with occasional forays east—but never to the Hamptons. That changed recently thanks to an about-to-be-married Manhattan couple who tapped Arnold to bring his laid-back California essence to their new digs. To say the opportunity was catnip for the designer is an understatement. “It gave me the chance to expand my horizons,” says Arnold. “I loved the chance to take in a different lifestyle. I would always stay a few days during each visit and get to know the area.”
Beyond pushing him outside of his geographical comfort zone, the project held further creative appeal. Arnold came on right at the beginning of the ground-up project, allowing him to collaborate with Farrell Building Company on the plan and layout, and put his stamp on just about everything. “That was the fun part for me—going from choosing plumbing fixtures and tile down to the dishes,” the designer recalls. One of his highest impact decisions was establishing the home’s overall look. “We wanted Shingle style, but I said, ‘Why don’t we do a black house because you don’t see those all the time?’” he recalls. This approach translates to the exterior feeling of-a-piece with the silhouettes of its more traditional neighbors, but the matte black color sets it apart as a modern riff on the vernacular.
Inside, Arnold’s moody-hued take on Hamptons style is just as enticing. “We kept colors dark and neutral to maintain tonality,” explains the designer. “We wanted strong, but also easy on the eyes.” A sea of faded black, pebble gray and chestnut tones lace through the timber-beamed great room, coming to a crescendo in the adjoining den, which Arnold designed as “a jewel box to be seen from the living space.” There, he employed shadowy velvet drapes, floral wallpaper and painted tongue-and-groove style wainscoting to cozy effect. Equally cocooning is the master bedroom, which manages to feel light and breezy in spite of its black plaster paint walls. “In summer, it’s actually quite nice to retreat to a darker, cooler room,” he muses.
As with all successful design, Arnold took great care in maintaining balance. “I love primitive pieces, and it would have been easy to stay in that lane, but you could end up being too on the nose,” he says. Instead, furnishing choices are a measured mix. For every rustic form, there are contemporary counterweights—a dichotomy on chic display in the dining area, which features a custom dining table made from salvaged timber surrounded by a seating medley of a reclaimed bench paired with vintage Niels O. Møller chairs. “Not everyone loves a bench, but these clients love to cook and their entertaining style is more interactive and casual, so it suits them,” adds Arnold.
So in tune was designer with clients that the couple even enlisted Arnold’s help in curating items for their wedding registry—many of which now sing from the kitchen’s open shelving. Furniture sourcing, too, was collaborative and convivial. Early on, the designer took the couple on a local shopping excursion, yielding a pair of black leather club chairs and an antique rug that now reside in the den. “Those were the first pieces we bought, and they stayed in storage until install,” says Arnold, adding, “The best part of the reveal is when my clients get to see something we bought together in context.”
With his maiden Hamptons design voyage in the books, Arnold has the chance to reflect on his work and likes what he sees. “All of my projects are different, but they share a lineage: how the space feels rather than how it looks,” muses the designer. “This home holds up within the work I do, but it offers a different dialogue and personality. It goes to show that you can achieve both classic and timeless and updated and relevant without being trendy.”