The most meaningful designer-client relationships often span miles and generations. Such was the case for Tatum Kendrick, who reunited with a beloved East Coast family for the sixth time on their new Hamptons residence. The couple first hired Kendrick over a decade ago, back when her now Los Angeles-based firm had just launched in Manhattan. “They let me push the envelope and be experimental from the very beginning,” says Kendrick. “After six houses together, we have a real trust and shorthand established. They let us do what we do.”
This time around, the homeowners were up-sizing—as was their family head count. To accommodate a growing brood of grandchildren, they had purchased a textbook Shingle-style abode just a short jaunt from the charms of East Hampton village. “It was much more classical with lots of built-ins and millwork,” says Kendrick, “but I didn’t want it to feel ‘Hamptons.’ The story in my mind was that it had been passed down through generations; a crazy British grandma type of house that I could layer in.”
For inspiration, Kendrick turned—where else?—to old English country homes, the kind with paint- and pattern-saturated rooms. “In those old manor houses, you turn a corner, and something is different. I didn’t want things to feel match-y,” says the designer, adding, “It needed to be darker, moodier and sexier.” She established that vibe with a few initial moves. Working with general contractor Ronan O’Dwyer (whom she had collaborated with on two previous projects for these clients), checkerboard flooring was laid in the entrance and in the back of the house, and any remaining cherry floorboards were swapped out for oak. Beyond that, “I knew I wanted to paint the trim black and have a leopard runner on the stairs!” she says.
Bold black paint and cheetah motifs appear again in the den, where Kendrick swathed the wainscotting in an inky shade and upholstered both the ottoman and floral sectional’s back pillows in animal print. She dubs that piece “a wackadoodle grandma sofa” and says of the leopard, “For me, it’s like a stripe—the perfect neutral. I love how it looks with graphic patterns and how timeless it is.” The mood in the dining room lightens a touch with shades of celadon paint, which she paired with an immersive leaf motif wallcovering. Against the more country-feeling backdrop, Kendrick worked in nods to the wife’s love of midcentury furnishings, such as the Danish chairs, a Guillerme et Chambron sideboard and a Gio Ponti-style light fixture, along with the monolithic Angelo Mangiarotti marble table that plays to the traditional architectural detailing.
The living room stands out as an ethereal exception. “There was no way to make it feel moody,” Kendrick says of the airy, double-height space with its floor-to-ceiling windows. “So, we decided to turn it into a light box.” Leaning into the light, the designer chose a pale neutral tone for the walls and a crisper white for the traditional millwork. She swapped out the existing fireplace mantel for a modern iteration in a richly veined Arabescato marble. And for furnishings, she opted for a few key pieces with strong, organic forms—like the Noguchi Cloud sofa—arranged in an “asymmetrical, askew” layout. “The idea,” Kendrick explains, “was to feel like you were walking into a sculpture garden.” Peppered in though are antiques, or items that read antique, reinforcing the home’s collected-over-time ethos. She had the daybed (where Madame Récamier would have felt entirely at ease), custom-made and placed a bust of Julius Caesar, rendered in the same marble as the fireplace surround, on a column. “We blindfolded him to have a little fun,” she adds.
Blindfolded Caesar notwithstanding, “I don’t try to shock or make a statement—I think of a story,” says Kendrick. “And that boils down to the purpose of design. The spaces you live within shape your energy, thought processes and feelings. With this house, we ran with that as we went from room to room.” From the dark, cozy den, to the dining room where high-style Italian design meets the English countryside, to the expansive prism of a living room, each space packs a distinct emotional punch. “It was,” says Kendrick, “so fun to create all these different pockets of personality.”