Meg Braff Designs a Family-Friendly Southampton Getaway
A house: The phrase conjures up images of a shingled manse with a spacious porch and interiors filled with comfortable furnishings and summery accents. It’s a place where the workweek is left behind and batches of houseguests converge, ready for sun and fun.
Designer Meg Braff recently brought this picture to life in the Southampton getaway of Katy Shea, her husband, and their four children, who frequently travel to the East End each summer from their home base in Nassau County. Shea and her husband tied the knot just three years ago and found they needed a vacation spot that was big and bright enough to accommodate their relatively new brood.
“I wanted to create a tranquil place for our family, a house where our children would actually want to spend time with us!” Shea says with a laugh, referring to daughter Olivia, from her husband’s first marriage, and her sons Chris, Will, and Andrew.
The dream house that the family bought, however, wasn’t quite up to snuff at the beginning. The location—just a few blocks from the ocean on a beautiful tree-lined street—was fabulous, but the home was cramped and sorely in need of a face-lift. “When I first saw it, I thought, Oh dear, will there be enough space for all of us?” Shea recalls, adding that it had a “Dutch Colonial feel,” with faded white columns and a herringbone-brick front porch. Lisa Zaloga, of Hamptons-based Zaloga Architects, helped open up the home, installing a simpler porch and gaining indoor space by pushing out the façade on both the first and second floors. The back of the house gained a few extra feet as well.
Next came the interior decoration. Shea had visited Braff’s shop in Locust Valley and adored the designer’s clean, fresh aesthetic. “I just love Meg’s work, and she has such great energy,” Shea says.
“It was a pretty seamless project,” Braff says of the five-bedroom home, where she “kept things easy on the eye” by employing a color palette of greens and blues against a backdrop of beige and white. (“Katy loves blue as much as I do!” Braff exults.) With the ocean so close, the colors work to great effect, as do furnishings made from natural materials like jute, raffia, wicker, and rattan, not to mention bamboo seating pieces that are “beachy but refined.” Braff also incorporated a few formal items previously owned by Shea; these provide a dash of polish without making the place seem too stodgy.
“They really let me run with everything, and even allowed me to figure out who got which bedroom!” Braff says of the design experience, emphasizing that her goal was “to make sure everyone’s room was super comfy.” The master more than fits the bill, with soothing aqua tones and a dreamy chaise longue that invites leisurely afternoon reading. Shea’s favorite space in the house, however, is “probably my third-floor bunk room,” a cozy nook that affords privacy when she needs it. “I spent a lot of quality time there while we were at the house last July and August. I dread going back home in September!”
A version of this article appeared in the June 2015 issue of Hamptons Cottages & Gardens with the headline: Made for Summer.