An interior designer enlivens her Hampton Bays, New York, beach house with vivacious hues and a charismatic mix of vintage and contemporary furnishings.
“Once we arrive here, we almost never leave,” decorator Muriel Brandolini says of her family’s beach retreat in Hampton Bays, New York. “Come to us—we’re delighted when friends visit. But we rarely go anywhere.” And who could argue? Located atop a choice bluff overlooking Peconic Bay, the Brandolinis’ sprawling house is awash in beautiful Long Island light, has sweeping water views, and strikes a rare balance between sophistication and laid-back comfort. It also captures the unique magic that can happen when a designer applies her distinctive vision to her own home.
For more than a decade, the Manhattan-based Brandolini and her husband, Nuno, a banker, spent weekends with their two children (now college age) in a ho-hum 1970s house on the property, which also features a shingled guest cottage built in the ’20s. But that setup was never quite right, and a few years ago the couple decided to tear down the main house and build anew. They turned to Italian-born architect Raffaella Bortoluzzi, head of the New York City firm Labo Design Studio, to create something special. “We fully trusted Raffaella and felt we could give her carte blanche—knowing that we needed a certain amount of space, an indoor swimming pool, and so on” says Brandolini. She did have one other stipulation. A native French speaker raised in Vietnam and Martinique, she didn’t want her husband—who comes from a prominent Venetian family—dealing with Bortoluzzi in Italian. Meetings would be conducted in English.
One of the first things Bortoluzzi proposed was to regrade the property and elevate the new structure enough to provide its main rooms with water views. The adjustment also meant that the two-story house—completed in 2011—would present a modest single-level façade in front with the lower floor only visible from behind. Bortoluzzi’s layout consisted of individually articulated rectilinear volumes, each clad in a different color (white, yellow, brown, and gray) of laminated wood siding. These volumes, which are joined by a long interior gallery that acts as a spine—the "telescope," Brandolini calls it—progress from the public and social areas on one end to the more private rooms at the other. The expansiveness of the 8,000-square-foot residence matters to Brandolini, who appreciates that “some of us can be sleeping while others are making noise in the living room or kitchen.” The gallery, lined with art and books, also accommodates a generous worktable and functions as a home office for the designer. ❧
This article originally appeared in Architectural Digest. Photography by Björn Wallander & Jean Bourbon