The wabi sabi style in a 19th century villaand century
Apart from a brief hiatus as a hotel, this property, which was built by a whaling fleet captain, has always been inhabited by large families. In recent years, however, the house has been empty. With its derelict garden and large empty rooms, the villa remained frozen in time until the arrival of its new owners: a young family who, to the delight of the design team, wished keep the elements of the past as much as possible† Located in the Hamptons, overlooking New York’s Sag Harbor Bay, the building is “a neo-Greek villa, a typical American construction from 1843, taking over the old codes, with large colonnades”, explains interior designer Maureen Winter McDermott, who led the renovation.
The owners of the house wanted to preserve as many traces of history as possible and adapt it to our times. “The plan has been reconfigured to accommodate a new formal entrance, dining room, expanded master suite and we added guest areas. The house was very large with lots of nooks and crannies. We redone all the bathrooms, the kitchen and added lots of woodwork I also avoided recessed lighting and instead opted for pendants and table lamps to create certain atmospheres that give the house a unique character.” continues Maureen Winter McDermott. While the kitchen and bathrooms needed to be modernized, the interior designer kept period features: from the original pine floors to the brickwork, to the classic doors and finishes, not to mention the carpentry and natural stone worktops, which add to the charm of the old.
“They wanted to keep the atmosphere of the past, but without it becoming too heavy, continues McDermott. Faced with imperfections, we opted for a wabi-sabi approach, emphasizing the patina of time, but also inserting lighter, lighter elements so that the interior does not appear too dark. † Thus, the walls of the rooms were painted with a fresh and neutral palette to balance the monumental side of the entrance portal – with its facades and majestic columns – now illuminated by a contemporary spirit. “It’s an old American house, but with a more refined structure”, adds the interior designer, stating that he was inspired by his favorite European decorators and designers: Axel Vervoordt, Olivier Gustav, Rose Uniacke.
If the palette leans towards cold tones, the architect’s attention to the structure creates an inviting warmth. The raw materials, such as the wood and linen of the textiles, combined with handmade lamps and vases, give an organic atmosphere. In the master bedroom, which overlooks the harbour, a woven paper pendant lamp by Naomi Paul illuminates the room. The adjoining bathroom retains its original pine doors, but is also decorated withelements of marble, brass and plaster† “I really like the living room of the house. As soon as you enter, you are taken in by the view of the bay … And as you walk through the living room of the house, the panorama remains beautiful. It is a historic house with very nice light and an interior that is as airy as it is inviting” makes Maureen Winter McDermott excited.
“We have restored the building to its 19th century splendor.and century, it is a fine example of restoration faithful to that time, with authentic details and the addition of new elements in a permanent interplay between modern and old. During the works we found a boy’s vest from the beginning of the XXandold objects, a horseshoe, bottles and postcards from the 1920s, says the interior designer, adding: if you like history this house has a wonderful one. And it’s easy to get carried away by the romantic atmosphere. †
An Olympic-sized swimming pool, a pool house and a lush garden complete the picture. Designed with the adjacent wetlands in mind, the site is laid out with classic hedges and hydrangeas. Today the garden is slowly blossoming and a plaque reads: “restored and rebuilt with love and respect for the Sag Harbor whaler”. A way to pay tribute to the history of the house and to the old captain who is behind it.
Translation Diane Lisarelli