EUROPEAN ELEGANCE ON MECOX BAY
Washington DC-based Interior Design firm Solis Betancourt & Sherrill brings Europe to the Hamptons, masterfully melding old and new.
Interior Design: Solis Betancourt & Sherrill
Architect: Brian E. Boyle
I n the heart of the Hamptons, down a winding driveway lined with thick hedges sits a house that sets itself apart from the vernacular of the cedar shingle-style home. With its gabled roof, stucco walls, and rose-toned cobblestone courtyard, this home is very much at ease not speaking the local architectural language. Welcome to a vision of European style by way of Mecox Bay.
This project in Water Mill was driven by the owners’ impeccable sense of style and vision. The wife initially visited the home and thought it was dreadful, but when she stepped onto the back patio, the shimmering bay views changed her mind. She and her husband called upon architect Brian E. Boyle and the interior design firm Solis Betancourt & Sherrill to transform the home into a quietly luxurious retreat that was casual enough to be inviting for the sandy feet and wet bathing suits that define summertime family gatherings. The couple’s travels to France and Italy and their deep appreciation of European history and antiques informed the aesthetic.
“The clients wanted to create a house that was European in feel, but still appropriate in the context of the village of Water Mill,” says Paul Sherrill, principal of Solis Betancourt & Sherrill. “As designers, we were aiming for simple tactile spaces with subtly layered textures and materials. We chose antiques and worn finishes to add depth and character. This home is all about restraint, making considered details appear effortless.”
The project began with an architectural update to transform the dated 1960’s single-story home. The design team raised the roofline to open up the central living room and make room for bedrooms upstairs. They also added a distinct vestibule to the entry area, and renovated the courtyard with stone paving and an antique fountain. Additions created space for a study and kitchen. A later project involved the creation of a pool and guest house.
Jose Solis Betancourt, principal of Solis Betancourt & Sherrill, says that creating authenticity was key. “The idea was not to ‘slap on some architecture’ but to create a real atmosphere and sense of history. We did this by adding details such as rough-hewn beams, pigmented plaster walls, and block stone floors. We also incorporated reclaimed architectural elements like doors, window sashes, gable vents, iron brackets, and antique stone sinks. The more rustic and weathered with peeling paint, the better.”
When the custom made kitchen cupboards were installed, Solis and Sherrill were not fully satisfied. Solis says “We went at them with hammers to create chips and gouges. The contractor was shocked, but in the end, the added texture looked just right.” He says they even purchased the scaffolding planks used by the plasterers because the drips and scuffs made for gorgeously textured shelves, beams and crown moldings. The clients and interior designers did a lot of the shopping together, choosing paintings and antiques with an aged patina to complete the dreamy, old world atmosphere.
The unifying factor behind the finishes and patina is the sophisticated palette. The wife was against saturated hues and wanted the water views to be the primary source of color. Solis and Sherrill opted for a mix of washed out greys, blues, violets and creams. They stained the existing terracotta tiles a soft grey, used worn down tapestries for pillows and upholstery and even used the reverse side of fabrics to subdue the palette further. Sherrill says “ The overall effect is very calming and inviting. Like an Impressionist painting that’s been faded by the sun and sea air”.
Jose Solis Betancourt says it was such a pleasure to work with clients who valued ambience and subtlety. He has observed similar changing notions of luxury amongst his clients. “Luxury used to be more defined as over the top. Crystal and gilt with a big push for formality. But now, times have changed. People want to be totally comfortable, enveloped by lush surroundings in understated luxury.”
For this unique project, Water Mill and Europe coexist in harmony, a thoughtful blend of faded beauty and casual elegance.