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“Family party house” is what Sara Gilbane calls her summer retreat in Locust Valley, Long Island. The description is apt, given that her backyard features a 75-by-25-foot homemade slip-and-slide—popular with her children, 6-year-old Virginia and 3-year-old James, as well as adventurous guests. A Rhode Island School of Design alumna and protégée of Celerie Kemble, Gilbane broke out on her own in 2008 and launched a line of furniture, fabric, and wallpaper in 2014.

Most mornings at the Gilbane home begin in the made-for-lounging sunroom. Indochine Settee by Red Egg, Lavender Fields.

Gilbane’s welcoming weekend outpost, just an hour’s drive from her home base in downtown Manhattan, channels her breezy, classic bohemian aesthetic in a kick-off-your-shoes-and-grab-a-drink kind of way. Family collectibles add a warm, personal touch throughout the space—including her grandmother’s china; handed-down Turkish and Oriental rugs; and a large American flag that belonged to her grandfather, who raised it every morning at his Rhode Island home. “We don’t have a flagpole, so we drape it over the stairs,” says Gilbane.

The weekend space layers traditional prints in fresh ways—and includes quirky statement pieces like Clark the clay leopard. China White Paint, Benjamin Moore.

The sunroom, she jokes, is “where all rattan goes to die” (in the form of sunshades and vintage furniture). The white IKEA sofa in the living room, accessorized with Lee Jofa custom throw pillows and washable slipcovers, also hints at her laid-back approach. “I want to relax and not get upset if someone spills a bit of wine,” she says with a laugh. Whimsical pieces, like a giant clay leopard she found on the vintage-rich Dixie Highway in Florida, also keep the house from feeling “too serious.”

The aesthetic is “very high-low,” says Gilbane, who updated the vintage sofa with bright floral upholstery and layered on throw pillows in an equally cheerful print. South Seas Rattan Side Cart, Serena & Lily; Vintage Sofa upholstered by Sara Gilbane Interiors in Susani Trellis by Lee Jofa, Chairish; Custom Pillows by Sara Gilbane Interiors in Cordoba, Carolina Irving Textiles; Kara Sisal Rug, Pottery Barn.

The color palette—a mix of bright pastels and bold primaries—nods to the natural surroundings, especially the striking sunset views. “From every room in our house, you can see the sun just drop into the Sound,” says Gilbane. Inspired, she painted the living room walls a light pink. “Sometimes it’s so pale it’s almost white, and then at night it gets brighter.”


Gilbane designed her best friend’s cottage (located on the same property) to be “really bright and happy” with saturated colors, like the forest green of this dining banquette. Custom Bench Cushions by Sara Gilbane Interiors in Rough ’N Rowdy Grass, Perennials Fabrics; Custom Bench Pillow by Sara Gilbane Interiors in Fig Leaf, Peter Dunham Textiles.

Sharing the property is a refurbished squash court owned by her best friend, who has two kids the same age as Virginia and James. “We do spring breaks and summers together—it’s built-in babysitting, which is kind of the dream,” says Gilbane. “She wanted her weekend place to be fun—you walk in, have a cocktail, sleep too late.” Working with white walls as a backdrop, Gilbane added tailored furniture in blues, greens, and zebra prints. “If people are having fun, there’s an aura in your space,” she explains. In other words, a home that’s always ready to host a party.

Blue is a favorite color of Gilbane and her son James, so she made it the focal point of his room, along with pops of red to “keep things punchy” in everything from an antique quilt to the bobble bed. Etoiles Blue Bedding, D. Porthault.

5 Ideas on Color 

  • Draw out the palette from your natural surroundings.
  • Go large and abstract with art for a big impact.
  • Don’t genderize pink; it’s for everyone.
  • Use black as a neutral—such as around bright picture frames and in furniture bases.
  • For adding color on a budget, buy inexpensive items in white or lighter shades and splurge on higher-quality color pieces.

This story first appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of Domino with the headline “Pattern Perfect.”