Tour a 1987 Modernist-Style Home in East Hampton

A dilapidated 1980s home is transformed into a discreet retreat.
minimalist artwork and vintage cocktail table in study

Photographs by Eric Striffler

When Dominic Lepere and his husband, Anthony Watts, purchased their first house in East Hampton it was anything but turnkey.  But Lepere, the owner of an eponymous home furnishings showroom in the New York Design Center, and Watts, a fashion publishing and retail industry veteran who recently launched the interior styling service Layer, don’t scare easily. The 1987 modernist-style East Hampton abode presented its fair share of much-needed improvements. “The property was a mess,” recalls Watts, with a lot that was so overgrown, adds Lepere, “you could barely even see the exterior. There was peeling paint everywhere, too—it was basically what you would expect from a 1980s fixer-upper.” But the bones were there.

“After 25 years together, Anthony and I agree on most things. We knew we wanted a contemporary house that was rectilinear in shape,” Lepere continues. They also responded to the layout’s configuration: primary bedroom on one side of the house, guest rooms on the opposite, and a full lower level. “From the outside, you have no perception of the extensive interior space,” Watts says of the four-bedroom East Hampton residence, which boasts roughly 3,600 square feet across the main and lower levels. “The house reveals itself when you walk in.”

gray sofa and cocktail table; club chairs and artwork

Photography by Eric Striffler

The couple worked with Bridgehampton-based designer Angela Inzerillo to realize their vision of a clean-lined, modern retreat, stripping back dated interior elements, gutting the lower level, tweaking the kitchen layout, redesigning the staircase, raising ceiling heights, and rethinking the lighting scheme throughout. Indoors and out, they created several different gathering spaces, including multiple living and dining areas. (Pre–COVID-19, the pair regularly cooked for friends and hosted intimate dinner parties.) Additionally, the lower level’s drab rec room was transformed to accommodate a study and a gym. “Angela teased that the exercise equipment would end up serving as a drying rack for our laundry, but we really do use the space regularly,” says Lepere. In fact, Watts adds, “visitors get most excited about this room—it’s very well integrated into the rest of the house.”

Indeed, luxe finishes and a soothing gray palette connect both floors, with the tones on the lower level a touch warmer than upstairs. “Our running joke is that it’s 50 shades of gray,” Watts says with a laugh. The neutral color palette is ideally matched to the couple’s cool European-style aesthetic, influenced in large part by their trips to the Salone del Mobile design fair in Milan (both Lepere and Watts have attended regularly in the past for work).

“We are definitely minimalists,” says Lepere. “We’ve even had family and friends ask where the rest of our stuff is!” Many of the streamlined pieces come from Lepere’s showroom, which carries contemporary furniture, lighting, wall coverings, and carpets from across Europe. “In advance of showing samples and swatches from the showroom to Anthony, my colleagues and I would joke that I was preparing for a meeting with my ‘very difficult client,’” says Lepere. “The truth is, I’m the type of person who wants to exhaust every last option available on earth, whereas Anthony is a more spontaneous decision maker.”

guest bedroom side table and bed; custom gray bench and nightstands

Photography by Eric Striffler

In the end, the pair had no trouble settling on a monochromatic mix that feels warm and welcoming, with the addition of a few carefully selected accessories and plants from Watts’s brand. “This house is a true reflection of both our careers,” muses Watts. “We’ve invested so much creative energy into making it a comfortable home for all seasons, and we feel lucky to have this place as our escape from the city.”

The print version of this article appeared with the headline: Contemporary Hero.
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