An Airy Farmhouse with a Whimsical Garden Space

The 1910 Southampton home has quite the character.
Rossetti Living Rm 085

A painting by Rossetti’s mother, Elena Rossetti, hangs in the living room, which includes footstools from Chile and a lamp from English Country Home. Photograph by Tria Giovan.

Alejandra Rossetti had always thought that a country getaway in Litchfield, Connecticut, would be her weekend ideal, but she did a 180 when she saw an advertisement for a three-bedroom shingled farmhouse in Southampton. She and her husband had been living in Brooklyn at the time, and they immediately hopped in the car and drove east. “When I saw it, I knew it was the one,” recalls Rossetti, a senior vice president of business development at Sotheby’s who recently relocated to Miami. “We put in an offer on the spot, and by the time we got back to Brooklyn, I had the whole house planned. For years I had kept binders full of inspirational images, and I could finally put into action all the fetishes I had been dreaming about.”

Built in 1910, the residence had its quirks, but thankfully only cosmetic updates were necessary. “I wanted the house to feel light and airy, and painting the floors white went a long way,” she says. “And then I set about filling the space with interesting pieces that stop you in your tracks. We have collected lots of treasures and mementos on our travels—in addition to gifts, estate-sale finds, auction coups, and family heirlooms. The rooms are both layered with eye candy and comfortable at the same time.”

Rosetti Yellow Bedrm 122

A guest room features yellow Toile de Jouy prints. Photograph by Tria Giovan.

Complementing the light-and-airy atmospherics is a color palette mostly centered on blue, white, and yellow. “I associate these hues with the Hamptons,” Rossetti says. “They remind me of the sky, the sand, and the sun.” Accordingly, she chose toile de Jouys in blue, yellow, and black-and-white as the principal design motifs in the bedrooms. “My first boss had a lake house in New Hampshire where all the bedrooms had toile de Jouy,” she recounts, “and I knew I wanted to do the same thing in my own home.”

Accessories and home furnishings arranged in both the private and public rooms include cherished paintings by her mother, sun-kissed ceramics acquired while Rossetti was on holiday in Capri, a Japanese tansu chest, an 18th-century refectory table, several artworks purchased at auction and estate sales, and collections of such ephemera as magnifying glasses, ebony and bone bowls, seashells, and abandoned birds’ nests. The deeply personal assemblages, Rossetti says, make the house “feel like a walk down memory lane.”

Rossetti Pool 03 177

Tightly clipped grass yields to mounds of sedum and hydrangea near the pool. Photograph by Tria Giovan.

Rossetti and her husband also reimagined the grounds, adding a rose garden, five different water features that cancel out noise from a nearby road, a bluestone patio, a new lawn, and a fire pit. “The swimming pool and a carved pavilion featuring four female figures were the only things on the property when we purchased it,” Rossetti says, adding that she’s “always outside fiddling with stuff, weeding or deadheading. Years ago, I read a gardening book that described a garden as a home without a roof, with the plants serving as the walls, and I like the idea of creating a sense of mystery and discovery. This garden encourages you to move to different areas depending on the time of day, whether it’s breakfast on the patio, afternoons by the pool, or nights around the fire pit making s’mores and playing charades. Even though I had plans for it for so many years, I took my time creating this place. Once you live with a house for a while, it eventually tells you what it needs.”

The print version of this article appears with the headline: Wit & Whimsy.