Inside Thomas O’Brien’s Historic Long Island Home
Spoiler: It has the dreamiest pool house, which happens to be the perfect place for afternoon naps.
Published Jul 10, 2017 12:35 PM
In Bellport, Long Island, Thomas O’Brien and Dan Fink have perfected the art of off-duty entertaining.
“Friday night is a ritual,” says designer Thomas O’Brien. Every week, he and his husband and business partner, Dan Fink, load up the car with items from Aero—O’Brien’s much-loved Manhattan store and studio—as well as recent vintage eBay scores or finds from their travels to Paris, London, and Japan.
Their Maltese, Cairn terrier, and two cats go along for the drive to the couple’s weekend home in Bellport, New York. “We call it moving day,” says O’Brien. “When we arrive, Dan gets out a bottle of Grand Ardèche, our favorite French white. I unpack, and we watch late-night TV.”
[In the lead image: In the pool house, O’Brien and Fink keep guest linens in Aero rattan baskets, while white cotton kitchen towels have been cleverly reimagined as drapes. A French hand-painted pitcher and glass bottle lamp (similar to ones found at their new Bellport store, Copper Beech) add vintage charm.]
[In this image: Outfitted in Calacatta marble—including backsplash, counters, and custom island (available at Aero and Copper Beech)—the kitchen is stocked with well-loved cookware. Vintage milk glass lights set the scene, along with a Eugene pendant lamp by O’Brien for Circa Lighting.]
In Bellport, their philosophy of enduring design comes to life. And their restored and renovated shingle-clad 1833 schoolhouse (known as the Academy) embodies their love of living history. “The way we work becomes real by making a home for ourselves,” explains O’Brien. “Everything springs from this house.”
[In this image: In the mudroom, a French white metal rack artfully displays an assortment of new and antique copper pots. The door and Windsor chair, painted in Safety Black, create interesting contrast. And a woven cat basket (available at Aero) proves O’Brien and Fink have a way of making cozy homes for everyone.]
Their affection for homemaking, entertaining, cookware, and dishes inspired Copper Beech, their new general store just down the road from the Academy. Named after the 300-year-old tree O’Brien and Fink were married under in 2015, Copper Beech is a celebration of thoughtful design.
From the kitchen’s marble tile floors to the pot rack filled with classic copper in the sunlit mudroom, the couple fills their home with practical, timeless pieces—including the occasional standout item from O’Brien’s collaborations with the likes of Circa Lighting, Target, and Century Furniture (with which he has an outdoor furniture line launching this fall). “We love new things with old values—well built, from good materials,” says Fink.
[In this image: In the pool house, O’Brien’s pillows from a collaboration with Target play off a wicker trunk and rope stool from Aero. The Noguchi paper lamp and vintage mobile lend ethereal details to the cozy space.]
On summer days, they keep things simple, bringing bunches of flowers and bowls filled with salad from the kitchen out to the pool house, a small, open-frame structure that O’Brien describes as “teeny-tiny—about the size of two full beds.” From the 1920s through the ’40s, Anne Lloyd—a suffragist, poet, and the home’s former owner—used the outbuilding as her writing studio and called it the Temple.
An aura of calm and contemplation permeates the pale gray-green walls and handmade terracotta tile floors. “Everybody takes naps there,” says O’Brien. “We have plenty of guest rooms in the main house, but lots of people choose the pool house to sleep in while they’re here.”
On the weekends, Fink and O’Brien dip into their library of more than 300 vintage cookbooks, looking up a recipe from Alice Waters or Julia Child to make fish and vegetables from a favorite farm stand nearby. “People are so interested in things that are automated or convenient,” says Fink, “but the work of cooking is good for your soul.”
Even when it’s just the two of them, the couple doesn’t skimp on the details. They set the table for lunch or just a glass of wine outdoors. “We always have candles, tablecloths, napkins, and flowers,” says O’Brien. “We don’t consider it work—it’s a joy.”
A shelf vignette features antique Timor Transferware bowls, circa 1880, and O’Brien’s pink Sutton goblets for Marshall Field’s.
Clockwise, from left:
Martelli Maccheroni Pasta, The Brooklyn Kitchen, $10 Vintage Cocktail Set by Thomas O’Brien, Aero Studios Les Moulins de la Brague Extra Virgin Olive Oil, The French Farm, $35 South Seas Side Cart by Serena & Lily, Domino shop, $398 Vintage Mossi Indigo Textile/Throw, Chairish, $295 Simple Napkins by Loom Decor, Domino shop, $39 Conductor Flask by Surname Goods Inc., Domino shop, from $175 Granito Con Chili, Sal de Ibiza, from $5 Surrey Table by Thomas O’Brien, Century Furniture, $2,085