A Newly Constructed Westhampton Beach Home
Mark Cunningham stitches up a fresh take on good old red, white, and blue.
A decorator’s goal is to make every undertaking a representation of his clients’ taste—no matter what the project, no matter where the location. Fortunately, designer Mark Cunningham is exceedingly flexible and well traveled, having built a wide-ranging portfolio that runs the gamut from chic urban apartments to refined Connecticut compounds to a desert abode in Marfa, Texas, during his 15-year career. “Every commission,” the decorator says, “is a brand-new challenge.”
Cunningham took the call to decorate the Westhampton Beach house featured in this article while architect Stuart Disston of Austin Patterson Disston Architecture & Design was erecting the 10,000-square-foot nine-bedroom structure for their mutual clients, a family of seven. “We were inspired by architectural detailing on various houses in the area,” Disston says of the classic shingled and columned structure. The six-foot-wide hallway off the foyer, he points out, runs through the spine of the house, just “like those found in gracious old-world Hamptons homes.”
Cunningham and his team first set their sights on the residence’s largest ground-floor spaces. Noting the clients’ affection for primary colors, namely blue, they earmarked a mix of deep blue fabrics for the family room’s custom 18-foot-long sectional, Dune armchairs, roman shades, and rug. A pair of camel leather-topped coffee tables and a grasscloth wall covering from Innovations “create warmth,” comments Cunningham, who accented the space with pops of red via accessories and pillows. Although he stuck to a basic palette throughout, the “shades and intensities vary from room to room,” he explains, “which creates different moods.”
In the shared dining and game room (an oak tabletop can be pulled across the pool table at mealtime), royal blues grace everything from a raffia wallpaper and herringbone carpet to seating pieces and even the felt on the table. Softer blues prevail elsewhere in the house, such as a light turquoise in the airy master bedroom, where an 1830s Swedish armoire and weathered Douglas fir nightstands evoke a sense of calm.
A carefully considered collection of bold, colorful artwork ties the rooms together. Cunningham sourced a Robert Indiana lithograph for the living room as well as a poster by the famed pop artist for the property’s circa-1902 boathouse turned pool house. Meanwhile, framed Polaroids in red, green, and blue energize a sitting area on the second-floor landing. Cunningham also employed a passel of vintage and antique accessories to “enhance the character” of each room, like a convex reflective lens salvaged from a lighthouse for the sun room and antique Windsor chairs powder-coated an electric blue in the foyer.
“With new construction, a house often lacks the natural patina of life, so it’s important to bring that in through the furnishings,” comments Cunningham’s senior designer, Alex Gaston. Even so, adds Cunningham, “When the family walked in for the first time, the kids started grabbing books and puzzles off the shelves and lying on the sofas. It’s very gratifying when that happens.”
The print version of this article appeared with the headline: American Beauty.