Amy Lau Outfits a Family's Bridgehampton Home in a Bright, Summery Style
In the decorating profession, as in most industries, the best sign of success is repeat business, and interior designer Amy Lau has never been short on regular customers. Among her favorites: a family who commissioned her to design their Upper West Side apartment overlooking Central Park. It displays all her favorite colors and textiles: energized pastels, museum-worthy mid-20th-century upholstery, and handmade rugs. In the ultimate testament to that project, the living room ended up on the cover of her 2011 book Expressive Modern: The Interiors of Amy Lau. “You develop a level of trust,” she says of the collaboration. So when the clients invited her to take a look at their home in Bridgehampton, she went right back to work for them.
The residence, which they had owned for years, was huge—with a rambling addition in the planning stages. But Lau felt it needed to telegraph a bold, bighearted welcome to visitors, while simultaneously embracing its grand scale in the public areas: “I envisioned a powerful entrance that says, ‘This is going to be fun!’”
And fun it is, with a relaxed vibe that practically forces visitors to unwind. In this dazzling new space, slate floors, a partition of slatted wood, and high-gloss turquoise walls form a backdrop for a stunning color-field composition by the late Sagaponack-based painter Sydney Butchkes and an ombré stair runner that progresses from sea foam to teal. Lau’s clients “totally embrace color, and I already knew which ones they would be into,” she says. “Compared with their apartment in the city, it’s obviously more beachy.”
The former living room was surprisingly modest, with a poky fireplace, so Lau suggested starting over, architecturally speaking. (“It was so cramped, I talked them into it!”) A rear wall was bumped out and a new fireplace installed, built in collaboration with Glenn Leitch of Highland Associates. The tall chimney breast now rises all the way up to the expanded room’s soaring ceiling, its elevated hearth doubling as a low bench that also incorporates a niche for firewood. The entire structure comprises broad marble slabs, each personally chosen by the designer for their subtle gray veining and nary a whisper of red or brown.
The living room’s Ezio Longhi chairs, which Lau refinished in a hand-rubbed lacquer (color name: sea pearl, natch), match a pair of custom ottomans that she commissioned from Dune. They form a heady set piece with a vintage Gio Ponti armchair, underscoring Lau’s belief in the lasting value of high-end furniture by mid-20th-century masters, a viewpoint she shares with her clients. “I put the money wherever I thought we needed a wow factor,” she says, even though she was under pressure from the family’s non-negotiable deadline of a Memorial Day move-in. “They wanted good design delivered in a timely fashion.” Mission accomplished: the ultimate smart business model.
A version of this article appeared in the July 15 2017 issue of HC&G (Hamptons Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Summer Color.