Thursday, August 20

Insider's View of Tamara Stephenson's Summer 2015 Decorating Project in Sag Harbor

The Lobby at Watchcase in Sag Harbor
looks fabulous after we hung these cool, 
 steel remnants from the original factory behind the front desk

Glimpses of My Summer Project:
decorating a penthouse, 
a former industrial factory turned condominium
in the historic town of Sag Harbor

The job of an interior designer can be frustrating, exhilarating, exhausting and rewarding.  Once in a Blue Moon a decorator gets a soup-to-nuts project that allows them to show their full potential.  If the designer is lucky the project has good bones, there's a decent budget and the client has great taste.  This is not the norm, but it is certainly a gift when it comes our way, and makes up for the annoying projects with demanding clients. This summer I had the chance to transform a two bedroom home, and when I arrived in June the space was in the midst of construction and looked ions away from the decorated home it is today.  While the apartment was getting solid footing, I chose the paint schedule, sourced both locally and online for the perfect pieces of furniture, art and accessories, ordered wallpaper and fabrics then had window treatments made, and even tapped into some items from a talented designer to sprinkle into the mix.  Yes, this was a good project so I'm sharing it with you, but did I mention I completed it in less than four weeks?  

Watchcase is set in the historic town of Sag Harbor, a town deeply rooted in the whaling and boating industry dating back centuries.  Surrounded by a beautiful marina and a plethora of historic homes, Watchase was the former Bulova watch factory over a hundred years ago, and provided the town with employment for generations.  After the factory closed, the giant brick facility sat empty for many years and was an eye sore in this otherwise picturesque fishing town in the Hamptons.  You may remember Watchase because it was the setting for Holiday House 2014 last year when it was just about finished with construction, and a handful of designers showcased their talent in this former industrial space.  Additionally, world renowned interior designer Steven Gambrel was hired early on in the process to bring his magic to the complex and he set the design off with a beautiful aesthetic and all the while keeping the integrity of the industrial history solidly in place.  Years later, there are a couple of penthouse apartments in the final stages of completion, but the complex is now bustling with tenants, there's a gorgeous pool house, tricked-out gym and even a yoga room.  I was hired to decorate Penthouse 416, a two bedroom railroad apartment in the throes of construction but with soaring ceilings, gorgeous views and over 17 windows in the living room alone.  The developer wanted me to keep with the aesthetic Steven Gambrel put into place throughout the complex but bring my own unique spin to the apartment.  I decided that although the industrial feeling should be honored and it is an important part of living here, I wanted to warm up the space by lightening up the palette, working with the lovely patina of the exposed brick throughout the home by adding an array of antiques from mid-century to vintage finds.  I wielded a combination of pale blue, with the already steely grey and then an infusion of white, other soft colors and it seemed the right call.  I immediately hit my favorite antique shops in Eastern Long Island from Greenport's Beall & Bell to Southampton's Colette, Bridgehampton's English Country Antiques, East Hampton's Mecox Gardens and more.  I had to remind myself that although many people appreciate the historic nature of Watchase's industrial start nobody really wants to live in a factory, and, of course, there is also a deeply rooted history of whaling, fishing and boating in every nook and cranny of this village, so as in all design it is a gentle balance to create a design that is warm, accessible and interesting.  I began with the paint schedule and decided to keep the colors subtle, fresh and light.  I painted the soaring ceiling a faint blue, like the ocean views from the windows in the living room.  I also painted the risers of the staircase (this staircase leads to the future owner's very own roof deck with views of Sag Harbor and the marina) the same color blue against a effervescent white glossy trim and stair railing.  I found the coolest industrial looking vintage tin column lamps that are tall and have an element of architectural detailing to them, and they work well with a similar looking yet new Ralph Lauren pendant lamps in steel we found for over the kitchen island.  We painted the inside of the fireplace a matte black and accessories with unexpected details from antique hook candle sticks to an oversized blue and white platter and blown glass hurricane lamps, blue coral, vintage plates and more.   I brought in a farmhouse antique table with lots of nicks against cool white Eames chairs with wooden dowel legs, an antique glass and patina'd brass coffee table (keeping it light) and I found a pair of grey upholstered and tufted mahogany turned-leg chairs (very English) to go with the large chunky, blue-grey tufted sofa I inherited from Steven Gambrel's collection.  All of this together feels good to me, and every time I walk into this apartment I want to linger, plop on the sofa and relax.  In the master bedroom I swathed the walls in a soft green (with a hint of blue) and infused the feeling of the seaside community just out the door with these fabulous vintage photographs of surfers framed in driftwood frames, an iron tufted bench from Mecox Gardens and even brought in fabrics from my own new fabric company Root Cellar Designs as well as upholstered a seat in Tilton Fenwick's fabric from Duralee on an antique chair I picked up on Shelter Island.  Please take a look at my project and oh, it's for sale if you are interested.

Happy Nesting
XO Tamara

 this antique brass standing lamp has octopus looking legs!  I had to get it and then we actually re-purposed a beautiful Stark Carpet rug that had some sun damage by re-painting it a lovely shade of wheat and white.
I found 6 gorgeous Eames-inspired chairs at Beall & Bell Antiques and when put them with this farmhouse table, a winning combination!

a root cellar designs pillow finishes 
off the Master Bed nicely (pattern: geo nutmeg dusty teal)