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This Classic Shingled Home Offers a Fresh Take on Midcentury Design

by Rick Anderson

When their youngest daughter left home for college, one Connecticut couple did what most empty nesters might: They moved house. However, instead of following the conventional path of downsizing, they took a more creative approach, purchasing a sleek apartment on New York City’s High Line park as well as a five-bedroom shingled spec home in Amagansett as their weekend retreat—taking advantage of the best of both aesthetic worlds.

“In Manhattan, they wanted something where the wife could entertain exhibitors and sponsors of the Whitney—she’s a ceramist and a big supporter of the museum—so the look is more refined and buttoned-up,” says New York interior designer Timothy Brown, who was charged with imbuing each home with a distinct sense of personality and style based on its function and location. “The Hamptons home is much more relaxed. Here, it’s about enjoying alone and family time away from the city.” The only design overlap in both properties: white walls that serve as a blank canvas for the couple’s vast collection of art and photography.

“A round table in a square room feels so right,” says Brown of the custom table from Robert Stilin Shop, which is topped with repurposed tractor gears from Huniford Design. A nod to retro fishing floats, the chandelier combines three vintage lights by Heifetz Rotoflex with a custom plate from Stellar Union, in Southampton.

Though Brown relied on a light, matte palette and traditionally easygoing beach-home fabrics like linen, cotton, and natural fibers in Amagansett, his interpretation of an approachable getaway included surprising bursts of color and luxe furniture pieces from the 1950s and ‘60s. But he’s careful not to label them midcentury. “I hate to use that word because people immediately associate it with a certain look: Eames chairs and things like that,” he says. To keep the aesthetic elevated yet unpredictable, he opted for French and Italian models with classic lines and plush reupholstered surfaces. In the living room, chrome scissor seats by Guillerme et Chambron and armchairs by Ward Bennett receive a contemporary counterpoint in a bubblelike Lindsey Adelman chandelier—looking nothing like a scene out of Mad Men. “I wanted to challenge the standard conception of midcentury,” Brown says. “From there the rest of the home radiated out.”

A study in curated contrasts, the house is a combination of luxe and laid-back, vintage and modern, resulting in a well-rounded look that transcends that of the typical summer house and acts as a backdrop for quiet reflection and, more commonly, get-togethers with friends and family. “It’s visually interesting and unexpected but also warm and inviting,” says Brown. Far from empty nesters, the couple plays host to a full house once more.

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