Inside a Contemporary Water Mill Retreat

Kris Fuchs Home Tour Water Mill

Given Kris Fuchs’s design-world pedigree, one would expect her to sport de rigueur bold red specs and black outfits—with more black to match. A principal and co-owner of Suite New York—an 8,000-square-foot showroom of contemporary and mid-20th-century furniture and accessories that’s open to the trade and the public—Fuchs is certainly no stranger to a refined aesthetic. But she couldn’t be more down to earth. A self-described “cowgirl in another life,” Fuchs spends her quality time at her beloved retreat in Water Mill, which is replete with sumptuous furnishings and art, but couldn’t feel more welcoming and homey. HC&G got the story on how Fuchs makes it all happen.

HC&G: How long have you been coming to the Hamptons?
Kris Fuchs: I am actually a lifelong Hamptons girl. I grew up in Riverhead and moved to Southampton when I was 13 years old. My first job, at 16, was hostessing at the Driver’s Seat on Jobs Lane. I was a happy country bumpkin when I arrived on the Southampton scene in 1979, and I met the most interesting people—fascinating artists and movers and shakers. It opened me up to a world I never knew existed.

How would you describe your home?
Camp Fuchs is a mixture of contemporary Hamptons style and mid-20th-century modern pieces. I could never live in a minimalist or traditional home.

Designer William Georgis helped you create the look of your house. What were your goals?
I wanted a dreamy contrast to my city life, with bold pops of color in every room. There are so many glass doors in the house, so the outside comes in, and the interiors magically go out. Color really represents my lifestyle on the East End. It’s warm and inviting—with zero black! Which is funny, for a New Yorker.

Is the house furnished exclusively with pieces from Suite New York?
Not entirely. When I moved in I hadn’t opened my business yet, so the design is a mixture of both Suite New York pieces and other vintage and contemporary items discovered elsewhere, with recent additions from Kelly Behun Studio, a collection we’re launching this month.

What’s the most important thing to you about your house?    
My daughters, Sage and Laura, have been in this house since they were four and two, and it has always been “family first” for me. We’d spend every summer in the Hamptons and come out every weekend in the off season—until boys entered the picture! I have not missed Thanksgiving in the Hamptons my entire life. Camp Fuchs has always been “that house” where all the kids’ friends come and stay, which is such a gift because I get to see, hear, and share in everything that goes on in their lives.

What is the most special moment of your day?
The morning. My boyfriend, George Vafiades, and I watch the sun rise on the bay. I greet the new day with this wonderful human being, and it’s our quiet time to be together. Then we head downstairs to the happy chaos that awaits us.

Like every great camp, yours comes with lots of fun toys for guests. What are the fan favorites?
We love to take the power boat over to the beach and then jump in for a swim, or kayak and canoe in the morning. I have a mint-condition 1967 turquoise Chevy pickup that was a gift from my best friend, Jennifer Miller. Jennifer’s husband collects cars, and one day they parked it in front of my door and then jumped out from the bushes to surprise me.

Your longtime friend Jonathan Tisch recently told you, “I’ve stopped inviting you over, because I know you will never come.” What’s that about?
It’s true! [laughs] Anyone who knows me knows that I never leave the house. I head east on Thursday nights, and by Exit 70 I’m a trail horse all the way home. Most weekends I don’t leave the property until Sunday night. To keep my family and houseguests from leaving, I run the place like a Relais & Châteaux resort. Everything revolves around my guests and their comfort. My chef, Rick Sullivan, cooks the most incredible meals. I have a massage therapist on hand every Friday and Saturday. Erin at Topiaire does the gorgeous herb gardens and succulents planters and Lilee Fell creates the floral arrangements. Everyone who visits my home knows how much I love it, and in turn they love it too.

I’ve heard you have Tate’s pie-eating contests at your house every weekend.
On average we eat about 20 pies a weekend. My favorite is a tie between Kathleen’s pecan and blueberry pies. Heaven! I work the opposite of a bear’s diet and happily gain my weight in the summer. Yoga helps burn off some of the pie calories. Jessica Bellofato of Kamadeva Yoga comes over in the mornings to lead ashtanga classes.

What’s up next for you and Suite New York?
I love my work, and as much as I am devoted to my business, I can’t wait to retire and live in the Hamptons full time. I want to wake up here every day for the rest of my life, with my grandkids running on the lawn, and share this experience with them. So look for a Suite New York pop-up here next summer!

A version of this article appeared in the September/October 2013 issue of HC&G (Hamptons Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Camp Fuchs.