Far from his native East Texas, Southampton lighting designer Greg Yale surrounds himself in style at home in a converted dairy
There probably aren't that many Hamptonites left who can recall the 1920s-era Sherry Dairy in Southampton. But Greg Yale, who is lucky enough to live in this idiosyncratic structure, now converted into a stylish home, is keeping the spirit alive with his thoughtful remodeling of it. Yale, a Southampton-based lighting designer who has been practicing his craft for 25 years, turned his hand to the interiors of the former cattle shed a few years ago. "They literally used to milk cows in my living room and bedrooms," he says. "The bottles were delivered through what is now my kitchen window, and customers would make their purchases at the huge refrigerator door." (The latter has been left as is, and now functions as the entry to a guest bedroom.)
“Belgique Chic,” with handsome dark woods and stone throughout
A native of Tyler, Texas, Yale studied business at Southern Methodist University and started his career in the Lone Star State, but "I knew I wasn't going to stay in Texas for long," he says. "It was West Coast or East Coast for me. On one visit to the East End I met David Seeler of the Bayberry Nursery, and he offered me a job—not expecting that I would move here lock, stock and barrel in two weeks. Before I knew it, he sent me to my first project, on Lily Pond Lane."
It goes without saying that both the interior and exterior lighting at Yale's home is exceptional. The garden's gabion walls (layers of stone stacked inside metal cages, a construction method that dates from the Middle Ages) were inspired by those at the Herzog & de Meuron–designed Dominus Vineyard in California's Napa Valley, where Yale created the outdoor lighting plan. They delineate pathways and are romantically lit by a subtle wash of light at night. Inside the house, artfully positioned lamps and light fixtures throw a quiet glow on artworks and hand-troweled walls.
To connect indoors with out, Yale enclosed the house's front porch with raw-steel casement windows, which now serve as the structure's spine. At one end is a dramatic fireplace with stacks of logs; at the other a tiny but functional kitchen. Off this long central corridor lie the guest bedroom, master bedroom and living room.
Throughout the house, which Yale shares with his British golden retrievers, Tucker, Hopi and Nino, are artworks and a variety of sculptural objects that keep the eye alert. "I've been collecting since I was a teenager," says Yale, proudly holding up a seascape, his first art purchase. "Now when I buy, I like to know a lot about the artist and try to gather pieces from different periods in his or her career." Yale has amassed several works by Robert Kelly, a contemporary abstract painter, and a few by Michael Lee, one of which came with a hand-bound book full of notes and drawings on the genesis of the work.
cages—are romantically lit by a subtle wash of light at night
Gorgeously finished plaster walls offer a glowing, sumptuous backdrop for Yale's collection. "I just had a crew of guys brush on plaster with brooms and then color it with a bit of paint and white wax," Yale says modestly, making the ingenious but laborious process sound simpler than it really is. They complement the house's rich palette of furnishings and fixtures, which somehow give the rooms an air of being both highly decorated and effortlessly casual, a Yale signature. What started off as a blend of Texas industrial and Belgian natural is now a cohesive whole that's utterly of Yale's devising, a far cry from the humble dairy barn of yore.