The more the merrier. Words to live by—and design by. At least when you’re a vibrant Manhattan couple with adult children and grandchildren looking to escape from a fast-paced life in the city to a place that the entire family can visit. A 10-bedroom house newly finished in Bridgehampton by builder Michael Paul D’Alessio of Michael Paul Enterprises filled with seaside charm fit the bill perfectly—plus, it was close to transportation and the shopping strip, and just a bike ride away from the beach. So, the couple turned to their trusted interior designer, Timothy Brown, to plan a casually elegant space “that didn’t feel like a beach house,” he says. “The idea behind the home was to have the family together and to be comfortable year-round.”
The two-story house was already well-organized to suit a big family. The main living areas (including a piano room) and the kitchen are on the main floor, with the master suite, guest bedrooms and a combined office-bedroom upstairs. Rooms are formally delineated rather than wide-open spaces, which lends a surprisingly cozy feel. “Even though the main house is 16,000 square feet with a basement,” says Brown, “it doesn’t feel large, as the rooms aren’t cavernous.”
With such a large family, the owners really wanted to maximize seating. “ ‘One more chair, let’s do one more chair,’ ” Brown says with a laugh, recalling the wife’s repeated requests for accommodations. “They really do go out there every weekend, and they like to have their holidays there, too.” As a result, large areas such as the living room feature “zones” of various groupings: two custom rectangular low tables made of timber run the length of the sofa, which carves out its own space. A separate section is formed by an adjacent circular low table made of stainless steel and glass flanked by a pair of swiveling barrel chairs on one side and two upholstered rectilinear armchairs on the other. The piano room’s seating arrangements include a shapely aubergine sofa and a few vintage armchairs, as well as a game table for bridge or casual conversation. “The wife wanted it to feel comfortable and refined to entertain friends,” says the designer.
To this end, the dining room seats 14 people, and the choice of steel for the table reflects the wife’s easygoing personality. Custom-designed and based on a table she admired at a restaurant, it is treated to withstand heat and scratches. Upstairs, the bedrooms are “designed to grow,” says the designer, who planned flexibility to accommodate the need for additional nurseries.
To help fulfill the owners’ desire for a house that didn’t feel too beachy, Brown chose a masterful mix of texture and color to help play up unexpected pieces or lend a casual air to dressier ones. “We decided to keep the overall look more like a comfortable yet refined beach house, which meant softening the rug and using mohair instead of sisals,” Brown says about his living room decisions. “We used linens on the sofa and chairs to keep it feeling beachy, but we incorporated color instead of beige or white.” The wife loves green, so shades of the color are found throughout the house. In the entry, for example, a French 1920s green Holophane pendant hangs over a sleek, sculptural Eros marble table. “It’s an old element over something new,” says Brown. “The pendant is an antique fixture from an old factory, and it is a nice mix with the newer marble table.”
All of these counterbalances create a home that is at once warm and welcoming, sophisticated and stylish. The effect is that the residence isn’t part-time at all, but that it’s lived in and in use—weekends and weekdays, all year-round—with plenty of room for everyone.
— Liz Arnold