If there is one thing every vacation home deserves, a light-filled breakfast nook would be at the top of our list. After all, when it comes to life’s simplest treasures, sitting back in a cozy booth with a steaming cup of coffee contributes to our idea of the perfect morning.
For interior designers Amanda Jesse and Whitney Parris-Lamb, of Jesse Parris-Lamb, this concept became an integral component of how they took on their more recent project: redesigning a 2,000-square-foot vacation home situated in East Hampton, NY. Built in the 1980s, the space’s modern disposition was evident by way of the graphic tile in the kitchen and the way the floorboards ran at a diagonal to the wall—both remnants of an era past, which the creative duo was keen on preserving.
“We pulled our color and materials palette directly from 1980’s design—there’s a lot of pink and black, and chrome is our metal of choice,” says Parris-Lamb, “but we tried to keep things fresh with clean-lined contemporary furniture pieces.”
The goal of the redesign was to uphold the home’s history sans risking an outdated finish that felt kitschy or tired. When it came to their clients—an NYC-based literary power couple with two teenage sons—their decor preferences skewed away from the traditional Hamptons getaway (think cedar shake home full of shabby chic wicker furniture and block-printed linen). Instead, they favored an aesthetic that was clean and sophisticated yet comfortable with a family-friendly feel.
The color palette of the redesign was informed by the home’s exterior: lush wildlife and a sea of natural, deep greens comprise the wooded locale, blatantly visible through the numerous windows scattered throughout. With an effortless complement in mind, the duo leaned towards a pared-down and neutrally-charged interior, chock full of texture, subtle pattern plays, and punches of black to ground the scheme.
The built-in banquette in the kitchen is a prime example of the aforementioned scheme, one that relies heavily on the vibrancy of the home’s exterior. “The trick here was to create a truly comfortable seat that still felt clean and minimal like the rest of the house,” says Parris-Lamb, in regards to the nook’s modern revamp. In its original state, the make-shift seating area embodied a slightly dated feel, covered in throw pillows and completely off in terms of scale, proportion, and comfort. With the intention of establishing a natural gathering space with entertaining in mind, the team focused on the dimensions and proportions of the space, with the goal of creating a livable area that felt fresh and current.
A lightly cerused white oak was reserved for the base of the built-in—it was also introduced by way of the custom bookshelf in the main living area—and coupled with a graphic ombre striped fabric for the cushions. The natural contrast derived from the combination resulted in a dynamic finish with added depth and interest. “The seat is covered in an outdoor fabric, which is a favorite trick of ours for high-traffic areas). Our aim was for this piece to feel very fresh and current but still at home with the very ‘80s ‘Florida room’ windows,” says Parris-Lamb.
Given that the home embodied an open-concept living space, the duo was tasked with establishing an element of cohesiveness, which would give way to a natural flow from zone to zone. “I’d say the greater challenge here was making a space, which is expansive, feel intimate and cozy,” says Parris-Lamb. “The soaring ceilings and walls of windows are impressive but had the potential to make the space feel cold and impersonal.”
Armed with a knack for developing furniture layouts with multi-functional spaces in mind, the design duo handpicked pieces that would contribute to the aesthetic they had in mind. As the clients preferred to not renovate the home, the creative team had to work within the existing architectural shell.
“Painting was not even an option,” recalls Parris-Lamb. “Because of this, each piece of furniture was thoughtfully chosen not only for its beauty but also its comfort.”
This came in the form of the Belgard sofa, with its utterly sinkable composition, which fit right in with the intended proportions of the room. “The vintage Jan Vanek chairs and custom low bookcase also add a lot of warmth and texture. These pieces help create a landscape of furnishings that draw the eye down and add a more human scale to the room.”
In the end, artful details, texturally-rich accents and a thoughtful integration of matte black elements lead to a visually dynamic interior that felt fresh and refined.