Modern + Neutral Beach House
Chic interiors in a serene setting in the Amagansett Dunes.
Repeat clients are often a dream for decorators, particularly when they are “fun, dynamic, and spirited,” according to Manhattan- and Bridgehampton-based designer Elena Frampton. Even though 20 years had passed since she helped decorate an apartment for one such couple in the city, she fell back into an easy, familiar rapport with them when she got the call to take on their 5,200-square-foot six-bedroom pad in the Amagansett Dunes, which they share with their college-age children. “The family wanted a place where they could get together and feel comfortable just puttering around in their flipflops,” she says.
Frampton’s collaborators on the project were Barnes Coy Architects and landscape architecture firm LaGuardia Design Group. The modern cedar, glass, stone, aluminum, and steel beach house features an upside-down floor plan that allows the main living areas to take full advantage of the ocean views from the upper level. “The landscape is rustic, with sand always coming in through the open doors, so we tried to blur the line between inside and out,” Frampton reports. “And since the architecture is so striking, we strove to create beautiful, but not formal interiors. This isn’t meant to be a pristine place.”
To highlight the natural environs, Frampton “kept the palette quiet. It’s more about texture than color,” she says. “But I find white to be harsh, so we used a lot of beige and gray. You have to acknowledge comfort zones with any client, but it’s also my job to push the boundaries and expand their notion of home beyond the familiar.” Accordingly, she fought for a few bold, yet subtle details, such as a blue epoxy finish on the plumbing fixtures in the pool cabana. Mostly, though, Frampton’s goal was to “bring in warm, tactile elements that would help balance out the coolness of the architecture.” In material finishes, for example, satin won over polished, and bronze trumped blackened.
Although the home’s sharp angles initially posed a bit of a challenge in furnishing the space, Frampton embraced the unique architecture, thinking of it as an opportunity to conceive a layout that’s less predictable, with features that are more interesting, including custom items like an organically shaped dining table and a geometric rug in the main living area. “My aim was to make a warm, serene version of a modern interior, using sculptural furnishings that complement the architecture,” the designer says. “The living area, for example, lies at a nexus point between the stairs, the kitchen, and one of the balconies. It could have felt like a chaotic passageway, so we did several layout studies to get the seating plan right.”
In fact, Frampton repeatedly went to the drawing board to work out even the smallest details. That’s why the dining table has been designed to accommodate the proper amount of knee space and the Bulthaup kitchen is appointed with tactility in mind—which led to numerous hours testing out hardware options in the company’s showroom. “What appears to be a very Zen-like space has come about thanks to many careful studies,” Frampton says. “With this type of architecture, an interior can be at odds or simply overshadowed, so we championed the unconventional structure while making sure the home would become a livable, laid-back retreat.”
The print version of this article appeared with the headline: Stark Contrast.