Designer Timothy Brown Gives His Sag Harbor Rental New Life



Designer Timothy Brown Gives His Sag Harbor Rental New Life

When interior designer Timothy Brown told a realtor friend that the apartment he was renting outside Sag Harbor wasn’t big enough, she told him she had the perfect place for him. But “perfect” turned out to be a relative term. 

“From the front,” Brown says of the cottage he ended up renting, “it’s as ugly as can be.” The previous owners had closed in the garage to make a guest room and slapped unbecoming yellow siding on the exterior. The interior, full of their furniture, had stained wood trim, and “I hated the color of the floor,” the decorator adds. But then there was the view.

Perched on a spit of land known as Bay Point, the 1,200-square-foot house overlooks Long Beach and Noyack Bay. “It was probably designed by a decent architect, but built by a cheap contractor,” Brown opines. “I especially like the sloped ceilings.” In the main room, the ceiling rises from eight to 10 feet above big windows that frame a sweet backyard and the storybook vista. “It was somehow exactly right.”

Because Brown is renting the space, he did not want to spend a lot of money fixing things up. But he still endeavored to put his mark on it. His first move was to clear out the furniture and paint the entire interior Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White. He even painted the tiny kitchen’s metal cabinets, which he personalized with black leather pulls. Next, Brown covered the floors with gray sisal, layering it with area rugs and hides to up the ante on coziness and define seating areas. And a handful of new wooden blinds “makes everything feel fresh.” 

Designer Timothy Brown Gives His Sag Harbor Rental New Life

Furnishings are a highly personal mix. “I brought in a lot of things I already own,” Brown says, “then started swapping them out for newer pieces.” Most everything is vintage, often with a design provenance, such as classic mid-20th-century examples by Scarpa, Saarinen, Bertoia, and Wegner. But nothing is too precious. Brown sleeps on a CB2 bed, for example, and the dining room’s white lacquer cabinet “was all chipped and beaten up, and no one would ever buy the thing at this one store I went to, so I took it, and I think there’s something kind of nice about it.” The “tables” next to his living room sofa are fashioned from the packing boxes his outdoor tables arrived in. “When you put things together that you like,” he muses, “the design ultimately works.”

The same sentiment goes for Brown’s quirky approach to art. He whipped up the electrical wire “sculpture” above the mantel on the day of his first house party, and it has remained there ever since. The Alex Katz portrait hanging above the sofa is actually a framed beach towel, while four abstract “surfboards” on the floor are color samples left over from a shelving system his firm designed for a client.

Brown’s ingenuity is hardly surprising. He credits both his welder father and cabinetmaker grandfather with planting the seeds of his profession when he was growing up in Tennessee. “I went from building houses for the family and working in my grandfather’s woodshop to interior design,” he says, adding that while he often treats his hideaway as a bolthole, he also likes to entertain. “It’s great in the summer, and it’s great off-season. It’s amazing to watch the water in the winter when it’s frozen and to track where the sun sets from one month to the next. For a long time, I moved almost every year, both here and in the city, but I can see myself staying in this place. And I’ve got some ideas if I should ever wind up owning it someday.” 

A version of this article appeared in the June 2018 issue of HC&G (Hamptons Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Rockin' Rental.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags

Landscape Spotlight

Edit Module
Rosalia Sanni
Rosalia Sanni is an award-winning landscape designer whose approach strikes a balance between architecture, nature and people. Comprehensive services include master planning, construction, administration, furniture souring, and an open dialogue that often continues after completion. Rosalia believes that good design enhances people's lives profoundly, and should offer more than a collection of beautiful pictures. Landscapes should suit the people who inhabit them in a meaningful, fun and deeply personal way.

Rosalia Sanni Design

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Architect Spotlight

Consiglio Builders
Consiglio Builders is a luxury residential construction company located on the East End of Long Island. We have developed a unique method of residential construction in the Hamptons—we call it "The Considered Approach." It stems from our experience which demonstrates that meticulous planning and transparency throughout the process, combined with our expertise and emphasis on perfection, enable us to deliver consistently the best-constructed homes on time and within budget to our discerning clientele.


 

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Architect Spotlight

James Merrell Architects 
From our perspective in the 21st century, all styles are historical. Even Modernism is now a century old. So, we are free to interpret, and interweave the minimal with the decorative to find new expressions for our own era. Our house celebrates this new design freedom. It brings a contemporary sensibility to the architectural covenants of this otherwise traditional neighborhood. Floor to ceiling glass on the ground floor, for instance, yields modern interior spaces. While above, divided windows sit comfortably in second floor dormers. And the style that results is both unique and timeless.


Bates Masi + Architects
Bates Masi + Architects LLC, a full-service architectural firm with roots in New York City and the East End of Long Island for over 50 years, responds to each project with extensive research in related architectural fields, material, craft and environment for unique solutions as varied as the individuals for whom they are designed. The focus is neither the size nor the type of project but the opportunity to enrich lives and enhance the environment.

Bates+Masi Architects
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
 
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module