Expansive lawns dotted with hydrangeas, powdery sand dunes, windswept grasses and shimmering ocean views—the thought of the Hamptons easily evokes these images. “Nature is the essential quality that brings people from all over the world to the East End,” says Cristina Peffer of Sag Harbor-based interior design firm Babcock Peffer.
The traditional architecture is a part of that reverie too: asymmetrical beach cottages and estates with rustic shingles, steep gabled roofs, and American flags. “I gain so much inspiration just by driving around and envisioning what the interiors look like,” says Maureen McDermott of Winter McDermott Design, also in Sag Harbor.
But it’s also possible to balance the Hamptons style with modern design through finishes and furniture. Here are tips on marrying the classic with the contemporary in your Hamptons home:
Add Modern Accents
“If the house is historic, salvage all the historic details while freshening up the interior with hints of modern appliances, finishes, and furniture,” McDermott says. For a cottage-style waterfront home in Sag Harbor, McDermott kept the kitchen traditional with gray inset cabinetry but added modern accents such as a custom metal hood, brass hardware, floating shelves and pendant lighting. “The interior is still sophisticated but looks effortless,” she says.
For that same Sag Harbor cottage, McDermott used a mix of natural stone, porcelain, metal and natural woods. “The wood finishes bring a beachy feel without being too heavy,” she says. “There is still a crisp minimal feel but with added warmth.” For a recent renovation, Peffer also combined a variety of materials, which she says are “critical for creating an organic and unique design in all areas of the home.”
Go Deeper with Color
While you can’t go wrong with soft and soothing colors such as blues, whites and grays, you can also deploy darker colors throughout: “Adding punches of dramatic colors such as blacks and mixed metals are a [great] way to bring the classics to another level,” McDermott says. For example, for a recent renovation, she painted a classic shiplap wall charcoal gray, which became a dramatic backdrop for the rest of the space.
Incorporate Local Makers
For a “modern yet timeless” Hamptons style, Peffer suggests adding one-of-a-kind pieces from contemporary makers and artists. “It’s important for our design aesthetic to incorporate many talented East End artists,” she says. “We believe this helps create spaces that are interesting, inviting and serene.” Not sure where to start? Peffer collects art from local artists Darius Yektai, Mark Webber, and Michele D’Ermo, and recently had a pair of iron end tables made by local maker James O’Shaughnessy.
Know Your Limits
Lastly, McDermott advises using the edit button—less is more, after all. “Great interiors are pared down and can’t fit every idea,” she says. “It’s all about restraint and what works for that exact space.”
Photos in order of appearance: courtesy of Babcock Peffer Design; courtesy of Winter McDermott Design; courtesy of Babcock Peffer Design; courtesy of Winter McDermott Design; courtesy of Babcock Peffer Design; courtesy of Winter McDermott Design