Coming upon oversized florals festooned across double-height walls and a pitched ceiling in an East Hampton heritage house feels a little incongruous. It turns out that the dramatic Josef Frank linen wall treatment is just one in a series of unexpected house design choices made by the couple who live there with their young family.
The far-from-ordinary renovation, overseen by New York-based interior designer Neal Beckstedt, brings a whole new meaning to the concept of ‘old meets new’. It entailed restoring a late 18th-century saltbox house and decorating an adjacent sleek no-frills new build that the couple commissioned from Architecture Outfit.
Tasked with marrying these two distinct styles, Neal conceived a farmhouse whose decor recreates the natural world via leaf-laden fabrics and autumnal hues, while the modern structure’s more minimal schemes look outward, paying homage to the garden beyond.
‘But there is a note of cohesion running through both buildings,’ says Neal. ‘The spaces, used equally by the family, each have a European sensibility with an emphasis on color, fabric and design classics.’ The couple’s collection of unusual finds, notably a ceramic wall hanging by Fernand Léger and Roland Brice, prompted relaxed neutral schemes in the new build, interspersed with pops of color.
‘We wanted to be brave enough to do something atypical,’ says Neal. ‘A traditional Long Island home is beachy, but a bit buttoned up; either that or it’s all poured concrete and glass, which can feel a bit sterile. We wanted to add warmth and youthfulness and enjoy the interplay of new and old sitting side by side.’
Much of that informality came from spending time with the couple and their children and, in particular, observing the owner’s wardrobe. ‘One day, she came to a site meeting wearing a denim jumpsuit,’ says Neal. ‘We had been looking for just the right durable fabric for the sitting room and I realized that the answer was in front of me.’ As a result, soft blues make an appearance throughout both buildings.
Key to the renovation was creating schemes that suited the lifestyle of a growing family. ‘We are casual people with two young teenage boys,’ says the owner, ‘and we didn’t want anything too fussy or too stark. We also wanted our home to reflect our cultural identity, including some meaningful mother-of-pearl pieces from Damascus and Lebanon.’
Neal’s approach was to focus on ‘the progression of color and pattern’ in both spaces. ‘The farmhouse is more insular because it doesn’t have such generous windows,’ he says. ‘So we created drama within via bold pattern and playful touches, such as the kitchen with its retro fridge and geometric tiling.
In contrast, the new-build kitchen is all about framing the views.’ In the farmhouse, plaid fabrics and walls covered in checks and stripes nod to classic Hamptons style, while, in the new build, mid-century lines, Berber rugs and sculptural lighting evoke a modernist air.
‘This project was the closest I’ve come to the feeling of decorating my own home because the owners’ imagination was so free-ranging,’ reflects Neal. The designer, who wasn’t known for embracing pattern until now, says the renovation prompted him to play further with form too. ‘The exchange of ideas is key for an interior decorator. There’s nothing more exciting than to be challenged in style and scale.’
MEET THE DESIGNER
Neal Beckstedt shares his style inspiration
What one small change has a huge impact?
Using dark colors in a small space.
Describe your style in three words.
Warm, understated, luxury.
How do you get inspired?
Nature and travel. Seeing new places expands my mind – whether through color palettes and the way other spaces are put together, or through cultural differences seen in texture, color, form and assemblage.
Finish the sentence, 'I know I'm a creative because...'
...I’m always thinking about design, every second of every day.
How does home make you feel?
Centred and at peace. It’s my safe space – it’s where my sense of design is worked to its highest degree as I constantly shift and re-style so that all my favorite items live peacefully around me.
What does New Year's mean to you?
Time to rest, recharge and start new projects.
Sign up to the Homes & Gardens newsletter
Decor Ideas. Project Inspiration. Expert Advice. Delivered to your inbox.
Essential spring home maintenance jobs – 6 tasks you need to finish after the frosts
Professional contractors reveal the six essential spring home maintenance tasks you need to complete around your home after the final frost
By Chiana Dickson Published
These are Farrow & Ball's current 'most loved' paints – and how to decorate with them throughout the home
From deep blues to earth-toned pinks, these are three of Farrow & Ball's most popular paints – and expert-approved ways to decorate with them throughout the home
By Emily Moorman Published