Designer Timothy Godbold had a full plate of design work in the deep days of the pandemic, not to mention the renovation of his own midcentury home in Sag Harbor. But when the owners of this Southampton residence reached out on Instagram expressing a sincere appreciation of his work and style, he couldn’t say no. “I guessed from their address that this was a classic Hamptons beach house, and my specialty is taking those traditional homes and giving them a more modern vibe than the exterior suggests.”
With abundant natural light and a thoughtful layout, the as-delivered structure offered an enticing blank slate for Godbold to build upon. Adding interest to the interior architecture was a first order of business. Sections of dark oak paneling—smooth for the den and reeded for the dining room—were added to create an atmosphere that would warm even the strictest minimalist’s heart. The living room’s fireplace wall was done in a textured venetian plaster (which now serves as backdrop for a piece of stunning ceramic wall art by Carlos Otero). And in the primary bedroom, a space where the designer firmly believes “romantic and sexy belong,” he added floor-to-ceiling panels of vintage mirror behind the bed.
Looking beyond the East Coast for aesthetic ideation, Godbold’s sourcing process became a design odyssey taking him around the world, albeit virtually, and drawing inspiration from modernist icons ranging from architect Le Corbusier to sculptor Costantino Nivola. Limited by pandemic travel restrictions, he found himself shopping online from some of his favorite vintage emporiums in Europe. “I bought a lot of pieces from Béton Brut in London, and from a shop in Spain called Serge Castella Interiors. Both of those galleries were very influential in the design of this home,” he shares. “I even started taking scenic rides on my Peloton through the British and Spanish countryside. That’s where my head was at when working on this project.”
Godbold describes his clients, a couple with two young children who split their time between Miami and Southampton, as “up for anything”—a quality that made them particularly amenable to unexpected color pairings. “The pastels in the living room, such as the seafoam-green ottoman and the pink-and-green marble coffee table, and combinations like the dining room’s blue chairs alongside the red hues of the Nerone Giovanni Ceccarelli painting—are not things that should work together, but they do,” notes the designer. “Not every client will allow you to do pastels in their living space, but it felt right here and they understood that,” he adds. The homeowners were similarly game for unconventional furnishings and accessories, from the living room’s Brasiliana sofas by Jorge Zalszupin—midcentury modern pieces crafted with tropical jacaranda wood—to ceramic works by Georges Pelletier, which Godbold describes as the kind of thing that would be “right at home in a 1970s commune in Nevada.”
And so, in an edifying turn for both designer and clients, what started out as a quintessential Hamptons dwelling morphed into an exciting outlier. “We were able to take this traditional house and turn it into something else—and that appeals to my independent side,” says Godbold. “This project was a testing ground in a lot of ways, but everything gelled and it became one of my best—it’s a gem.”