Picture Hamptons style decor in your mind and you’re immediately transported to the seaside string of communities on Long Island’s southern coastline, where white-washed mansion homes fringe the shore and embrace the view.
A summer escape and a calming antidote to the hustle and bustle of New York, the seafront is a first and foremost a prime holiday escape, and Hamptons interiors reflect this. Homes are glamorous, sophisticated, yet this modern interior design style is effortless at the same time. Rooms are bright and light, with big open windows that let the light in.
For New York-based designer, Amy Lau, the Hamptons are shrouded in romance and seaside folklore. ‘The style has its provenance in the laid-back seaside cottages of Long Island in New York. Its casual and breezy elegant look reminds us of serenity waves and calm skies,’ she says.
‘The Hampton’s style, with its ship-lap decors, remind us of bygone days when ships would sail to the harbor and exotic spoils land on our doorsteps. In a way, it is stepping into a world of paradise where rustic charm pairs well with clean ironed linen.’
Hamptons style decor offers a more elevated take on a coastal look, and it can be explored in homes outside of the Long Island area, too. Here are the key elements for how to achieve it.
What is Hamptons style decor?
Hamptons style decor is a take on traditional American design – white picket fences, clean lines and relaxed finishes. Designing for coastal interiors in the Hamptons is void of beachy clichés, but embraces nautical touches here and there.
The palette is clean – dazzling whites and royal blues make for the ultimate seaside scheme. Textures and layers are key to creating warmth against the cooling blue and white. Think rope detailing, textured sisal, breezy cottons and linens.
Here, interior designers based in the Hamptons and beyond explore what makes Hamptons style decor stand out, and how the look can be recreated.
1. Paint your rooms white on white
Adding to the overall serenity of a Hamptons home and a key style is the use of a dazzling white scheme. Immaculate white living room, bedroom and bathroom walls reflect the calming nature of the location and work to bring the outdoors in, brighten up the space and magnify natural light, which the Hamptons has in abundance.
In this example from Tribeca-based architecture and interiors firm, The Turett Collaborative , the white walls were key to breathing fresh air into the property. 'This was a Hamptons vacation home slowly emerging into a longer-term residence away from the city,' explains interior design director, Jessica Shaw. 'It had to evolve to meet the family's work-from-home needs with a home office. We wanted this home to embrace airiness, light tones, white ceiling beams and oceanic accents to create a calm ambiance.'
Just as significant is what the color white can do to elevate other objects and materials used throughout an interior,’ says Steffen Ringelmann from Montauk-based Studio MTK. ‘White not only pairs well with everything, but it enhances these elements - furniture, artworks, plants - allowing them to stand out and have a quality that might otherwise be lost or muted against other backdrops.'
2. Use touches of blue throughout the home
Creating a perfect harmony with the bright white of the walls, Hamptons homes are often dotted with blue soft furnishings and detail. After all, white is a classic color that goes with blue.
In this Southhampton family home, designed by the Apartment 48 founder Rayman Boozer, the blue pillows and seating in the window seat extend to the bright Thibaut wallpaper with its geometric blue pattern, working to direct the eye around the pleasing curves of the room. Chairs designed by Ralph Lauren Home offset the blue perfectly.
3. Don't forget the Chinoiserie
Another style signature of the Hamptons is traditional china. Porcelains and ceramic vases in blue and white with chinoiserie detailing are seen in virtually every Hamptons home and are typically displayed on every available surface, from console tables to coffee table decor.
Popular because of the intricate craft associated with creating them, chinoiserie adds a touch of opulence to a Hamptons-style decor.
4. Supplement the Hamptons abundant natural light
'In the Hamptons, you have natural light in spades,’ says Rayman Boozer, of Apartment 48, but that’s not to say you neglect your living room lighting ideas, for example. Living rooms, dining rooms and communal spaces are often fitted with a statement piece that ties the room together in a celebratory way.
In this charming Wainscott cottage on Long Island, designed by New York-based interior designer Bella Mancini, bright yellow Maguire dining chairs light the room and circle around the statement pendant from Oly Studio, emphasizing the beauty of the piece that almost replicates a ball of coral.
'We had so much fun designing this project,' explains Bella Mancini. 'The client was actually living in London when we did the decorating and renovating so it was especially exciting to reveal it to her when it was complete upon her move home.
'This client is a major color lover. She isn’t afraid to experiment and go bold on upholstery, which is not super common, especially in the Hamptons. The east end of Long Island is famous for the beautiful golden light, and the color palette we used throughout really glows because of it.
'The light in question is from Oly Studio. The client is a former ballerina and loves the south of France and dance parties. We loved it for her because it also resembles a disco ball! This is especially appropriate in this room, as it is open enough to be used as a dance floor during parties.'
5. Go al fresco for outdoor entertaining
Embrace hosting and entertaining al fresco in true Hamptons style by going all out with your garden aesthetic. At this home in Bridgehampton, designed by Amy Lau, vibrant colors and textures inspired by the sea and sky lure you to the outdoor living room.
‘With the warmer months in the Hamptons come endless opportunities for outdoor entertaining,' she says. 'I always select stylish yet functional outdoor furniture that complements the interior style I have designed, so it’s similar in color palette, look and feel.'
6. Consider nautical touches
The destination’s proximity to the ocean reflects in all aspect of Hamptons interiors, from your living room color ideas to decor. ‘To me, Hamptons style is all about the beach,' says interior designer Raymond Boozer. 'It's dressing and living with a certain ease, embracing coastal colors, from rich blues to sandy sisals to earthy greens. I think comfortable, low-maintenance furniture that reflects this is essential. You can find beautiful pieces at Serena & Lily, Côte À Coast, and Hudson Grace.’
Amy Spargo of Maine House Interiors is based in Victoria, Australia, but takes huge inspiration from Hamptons design as a seaside style she admires. ‘A classic maritime palette of blue, red and white is a fun place to start,’ she says. ‘Think rope detailing, textured sisal, printed soft linens and breezy cottons on upholstery. Antiques and vintage art really anchor a space near the water,’ she says.
7. Opt for rustic wood materials
In this relaxed Montauk cottage, wood is a crucial element that helps reflect the home's location. 'Wood is a warm, natural material that can provide a relaxed, organic feel to any interior, which is something most homeowners here in Montauk and the Hamptons prioritize,’ explains the founder of Studio MTK, Steffen Ringelmann. ‘It can be used on various surfaces and in various combinations, and no matter what, always looks good.’ In this particular project, one of the oldest homes in Montauk, the team at Studio MTK wanted to pick out wood as a key material for this modern rustic living room.
'The client took the decision to furnish the home with simple handmade pine furniture inspired by the work of Enzo Mari and Donald Judd, two modernist artists and designers the owners admire, was equally important,' explains Ringelmann. 'The handmade pine furniture is integral to how the clients wanted their home to feel, simultaneously relaxed and modern, simple yet well designed, stylish yet unpretentious. The furniture is both unremarkable in its simplicity of form and construction, yet also remarkable for these same qualities, and gives the historic home where they live a new life of its own.'
8. Don’t forget the floral flourish
Synonymous with Hamptons style is the bright, bold flowers that are often fringing a Hamptons garden. Think buxus and gardenia, but most importantly, the hydrangea, which are often plucked from the boxed hedging and taken inside for a relaxed and unstructured flower arrangement.
‘Hydrangeas are a true Hamptons classic,’ says Amy Lau. ‘When one thinks of the summer landscapes there, these wonderfully billowing and luxuriant plants come to mind. Hydrangeas bloom twice during the summer months and range in many colors, from white, pink, blue, to even purple. Hydrangeas are lauded for their lush and understated flowers.’
What colors suit Hamptons style decor?
Blue and white in abundance, Hamptons style is also characterised by a kaleidoscope of optimistic shades. 'When I think of the Hamptons I think of a very preppy take on nautical style – lots of blue stripes, whites, and a mix of navy next to duck egg,' says Pip Rich, editor of Livingetc.
'But what makes this take on style more interesting is how flashes of yellow and green creep in, bursts of sunshine to lift this look and make it a little vibrant.
‘Taking its lead from all the wonderful puffs of hydrangeas outside every house, there are peaches and pinks, mauves and purples among the more traditional colors. This is relaxed summer style done with flair.'
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Oonagh is a content editor at Livingetc.com and an expert at spotting the interior trends that are making waves in the design world. Writing a mix of everything and everything from home tours to news, long-form features to design idea pieces on the website, as well as frequently featured in the monthly print magazine, she's the go-to for design advice in the home. Previously, she worked on a London property title, producing long-read interiors features, style pages and conducting interviews with a range of famous faces from the UK interiors scene, from Kit Kemp to Robert Kime. In doing so, she has developed a keen interest in London's historical architecture and the city's distinct tastemakers paving the way in the world of interiors.
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