In Amagansett, decorator and shop owner Jarlath Mellett creates a livable, luxurious home for an energetic family. View exclusive images.
photography by Tria Giovan
When fashion designer turned shop owner/interior decorator
Jarlath Mellett takes on a new project, he treats it in much the same way he would when creating a collection of clothes. “I start with a concept,” he says, and for him that initial idea can come from anywhere. Take amagansett, for instance, where Mellett sells home furnishings and clothing from his eponymous store. inspiration awaits at every turn: at the farm stand on Windmill Lane, on a path that leads to Atlantic Beach or even at Mary’s Marvelous, a village coffee hangout.
For a young family’s expanded antique shingled cottage on an Amagansett byway, the design direction took shape according to Mellett’s assessment of the family: the sort with “chic, effortless style” who wear crisp white shirts and well-cut jeans—like they just stepped out of a Ralph Lauren ad, to be precise.
Fittingly enough, the Irish-born Mellett has spent many of the past 30 years designing clothes for the likes of Brooks Brothers and Theory, two “Überamerican” fashion brands. “My time at Brooks Brothers immersed me in classic american style,” he says. “And Theory is all about a clean, modern, fashion-forward American look.” Together, the two fashion houses gave the outsider a clear vision of a homegrown style not always obvious even to natives: relaxed, casual, easy, fun.
That sensibility is distilled into the appealingly under-decorated house, where loosely upholstered, oversize sofas beg to be flopped onto and caramel-colored birch logs are stacked to the ceiling on either side of the living room fireplace—a gesture both rustic and unexpectedly chic. faced with dozens of skeletal shelves throughout the house, Mellett went on a hunting expedition to find individual pieces that work well together. Many of the objects were discovered at shops specializing in reclaimed or antique goods, such as Ruby Beets in sag harbor and eclectiques in Bridgehampton, and even thrift shops, like housing Works. Mellett’s ability to integrate disparate items testifies to his affinity for the family’s lifestyle and his own predilection for anything vintage, which “has soul and character,” he says. “It’s traveled.” At first sight the quirky selection of books and found objects, like an old tennis racket and seltzer bottles, might seem random, yet somehow they all make sense together, even in the vicinity of the sun-bleached antler chandeliers that loom above the living area and dining table.
Just as in fashion, when Mellett designs an interior he always searches for a “color story,” in this case a narrative comprised of sun, sea and sand with bright whites, cool blues and washed-out tans. An elongated Chesterfield sofa is custom-upholstered in a deep denim-blue to simulate the ultimate american fabric; throw pillows covered in sweatshirt material punctuate the lived-in feel.
Not surprisingly, Mellett favors natural fibers, the kind he once used in clothing design: cottons, linens, wools. a pair of French Egyptian–style armchairs is covered in a patchwork of sackcloth with the clients’ initials incorporated into the fabric. a stylized club chair boasts soft leather supplied by a fashion source, rescued from a fate as a handbag. Mellett even used men’s shirting on bedding. “One of the things I learned in fashion is fit and proportion: how things mix together to create one perfect vision,” Mellett explains. In interiors, too, he’s got fit and proportion down pat.