"At Home" in East Hampton - August 6, 2010
This latest letter has been so difficult to write.
I had just returned from one of our frequent trips out to the East End of Long Island and a funny thing happened.......my husband and I were ALONE OUT THERE!!! It is a rare occurrence in the summer and I started thinking I would write a "home visit" story of my sister's East Hampton home. This decision was made without consulting her or her husband, of course. I made the mistake of mentioning it to her after I took the pictures.
On one hand I want to share how wonderful my sister is and how beautiful her home is but, in my ear VERY emphatically, I have her telling me, "okay, you can do it but don't mention my name". Then when I responded "who you are is the major part of the story" I hear "Ok, but don't talk about me". (she does NOT like center stage at all...).
My sister Denise with her favorite chair on the beach in East Hampton
I ignore her comments because this is the same sister (I have 3) who took people on house tours of my home without bothering to mention it to me. The very same sister who tortured me (I'm exaggerating a little) as a child "You were such a cry baby" is always her defense.
So what the heck, paybacks are tough, right???? here goes.......
My sister, Denise and my brother-in-law Ricky have been spending their summer vacations in the Hamptons for 28 years. First visits included stays at various local inns and motels and then rentals in different towns. It quickly became their dream to one day own a vacation home in this special spot.
I don't know if it was my brother-in-law's dream to not ever have the place to themselves!!!
On any given day, and especially the weekends, the family starts arriving and we're always greeted with a warm hug and a smile. Sometimes we arrive before they do! At times the count swells to 24 people AND 3 DOGS for goodness sake!! Pillars of patience, don't you think?? I also love when her nieces and nephews want to bring friends, and even work out there for the summer, Denise always says,"Sure!"
La Bella Vita (The beautiful Life) This sign is posted at the foot of their very long driveway. My mother had it made for them and it really tells the story.
The front door....I didn't get it in the picture but when my mother sold our childhood home she removed the door knocker and it is now mounted on the door at the beachhouse.
When most people think of having a house in the Hamptons they picture a life of leisure, hobnobbing with celebrities perhaps and even a staff. Most residents just ring up a handyman or contractor whenever something needs to be done. Not in this family......my husband, Roger, is the consiegliere (counsel) and he and my brother-in-law have done everything. They restoned the ½ mile long driveway shoveling rocks out of the back of his pick-up truck and built an outdoor shower, to name a few. The latest project is adding a bunk room and downstairs family room. Each Saturday they have a self-motivated project as we continually tell them "stop working, it's supposed to be a VACATION HOME!!!" They are served gourmet lunches made by us and even their nieces know how to grill a mean panini. They listen to the Yankees game and throw jibes at each other all day like an old married couple while everyone else is having R & R.
The living room from a few years ago and the reason for "the bunk room project"
The boys are around and they help move a stone capital we found
to use as a table between the lounge chairs near the pool
Roger and brother-in-law Jim putting up the whale weathervane at the back of the house.
I got all the men these ridiculous shirts and they wore them while they worked framing the downstairs family room , or should I say "studding" the room. (very bad pun)
I told my sister she HAD to have this armoire for her master bedroom. Trouble was we didn't bother to make sure we could get it up the stairs. While the entire Hamptons community was enjoying a Saturday at the beach, we were trying every way possible to make it work for hours. It finally worked removing the doors and putting it on top of my truck and cantilevering it over the bedroom deck's railing. The men jumped off the truck and ran up the stairs to carry it into the bedroom, while Denise and I held it hanging over the deck. Our husbands are truly saints because they would honestly be happy with IKEA in a box with "some assembly required." If I had a production manager she would have made sure I show you a picture of it in place) sorry for that but it looks great!
A vintage chaise lounge in the master bedroom, If you look closely you'll see the subtle damask pattern in the original worn pink velvet.The antique throw is chenille on satin. The vintage marble lamp looks great against the woven shade .
Master bathroom showing one of 2 columns we found ...marble bird baths on the
tub deck underneath a framed torn edged nude AND her new capiz shell chandelier.
New with old looking great!
Vintage swimsuits in the entry hall with drop dead gold, (yes it works) gold lamps at the relaxed beachhouse.Denise has a love for mermaids and the iron one on the table is a cutie. A basket of sunscreens has a place under the table next to a taxidermy turtle .
The den is a great example of old and new coming together in the best way..... the vintage sailfish, a vintage painted French desk with a bamboo chair adding texture (we have to do something about those wires underneath), a new shell lamp, primitive antique rustic cocktail table with a new sectional sofa, original grain sack pillows with new pillows.
You can see a part of the modern painting over the desk. Nothing was searched for in here, but rather found and placed together to create this wonderful warm and functional room.
(The sofa fabric was chosen from the furniture lines available prints)
Another den picture. The flat screen looks wonderful above the antique French server which stores clothes for those guests staying on the pullout.I love the growing shell jar and the modern sculpture on the pole (a gift from me!).I feel it necessary to state there was no big decorating plans for any of the rooms, it's imperfectly perfect and communicates who they are. My sister is great with finding an affordable piece and saying "I'm getting this for the den", and it's done and it all works, no sweat! She has the guts to not care about the planned perfection of it.When I say "how about this?" she says " "okay, let's get it and now let's get to the beach"
Outsider artist Josephine's huge "Pookie dog" sits guard on the stairway which leads to the soon to be photo memory wall going up the stairs to the bedrooms.
One of the comfortable guest rooms. An antique Jenny Lind bed, toleware lamp with a shell box next to one of my "must have" items..... a tray for glasses or coffee cups. This one is holding a bedside carafe and glass. The wicker chair adds to the simple cozy feel of this welcoming room.
The great room has her old sofas from Domain they had first purchased for their primary home. With their creamy cotton slipcovers they were the perfect solution once they had to be replaced from home. There is a funky painted antique barber pole in the corner and the antique English pine armoire holds all the bedding for the pull-out sofa in the den. On top of the armoire is my Grandfather's building company sign which is almost as if this wonderful man is part of all the family fun still taking place since he's gone. On her cocktail table with eglomisé (reverse glass painting) she's added succulents in a planter. When we found the table I was concerned about the durability of the wood frame but she doesn't care that it gets more distressed each year.
Behind the chair is a great antique wicker steamer trunk holding all the beach towels. On the way out to the pool or beach it slams as each person grabs a towel. The ceramic elephant is a fun side table with no worries of coffee or water rings.
The dining area has a relaxed English pine table with a wonderful
English antique lazy susan I found this year.
The painted corner cabinet holds platters and on top tole tea caddys. Her antique English ironstone transferware makes the cabinet pop. I don't want you to think she's a serious collector because she's not like that. We were at a garage sale and I said "buy this, they'll look good on the cabinet", and she did! The truth is she's not serious at all EXCEPT about good food and the seriousness is about her relaxed way of preparing it which we all benefit from and which brings me to .....
I SWEAR TO YOU, I DID NOT STAGE OR MOVE ANYTHING IN THIS PICTURE AT ALL!! We all love to cook in my family but Denise's expertise rivals Ina Garten. I have encouraged her to do a blog but she refuses. (A side note-- you should see her command, with a smile, the soup kitchen in Morristown feeding more than 200.) On Friday nights, as arrivals show up, she serves her homemade pizzas she's prepared after visiting the local farmer's market that day. Eggplant, fresh mozzarella or goat cheese, mushroom, sautéed broccoli, basil and fresh tomato and sausage...you name it! Look at all the olive oils, vinegars, and the pots of garlic, and shallots. The baskets hold 3 kinds of onions, and you can see her precious fingerling potatoes hanging out. I remember one year, she had EVERYONE stopping at various vegetable stands and markets in search of the "fingerlings". Each person would come through the door with their grocery bags only to announce "and, they didn't have fingerlings"....I thought she would cry. This year is a good year - fingerlings are in great supply ..... Denise is very happy. Notice her yelloware antique bowls sturdy enough for all the use they get.
Another view of the larder with jars holding her homemade granola and oatmeal. An antique store cakebox houses the breads next to some of her many cookbooks. Don't you loved the honed countertops??....it looks like marble but has all the benefits of true granite. Just out of the picture are 2 covered jars...one for pretzels, one for peanut m&m's. I wish I had a picture of the banquet meals that are served on the deck, favorites are capellini with arugula and shrimp, grilled lobsters and clams on the halfshell, roasted vegetable orzo salad with goat cheese and pine nuts, the crabs we catch with garlic sauce, roasted beets with goat cheese and we all make a relish with roasted fresh corn, red onion and black beans. It adds delicious crunch and color on any grilled fish. If any of you are still reading this I need to note as we all head out to the beach Denise takes lunch orders, because, God forbid, we buy the overpriced food available at the snack shack. She stands at the counter and wraps and I'm not talking sliced bread and cold cuts.Breaded chicken cutlets, roasted peppers, mozzarella, goat cheese, grilled vegetables, carmelized onions, fresh turkey......just shout out your order because she makes it on your choice of crusty breads and even writes your name on the wrap.It's like orchestrating the mass exodus from Egypt. It's a good thing our weekends always include time made for running, biking and yoga.
A close shot of the pool, Denise's style...with a large vegetable garden as landscaping, dear God!! She has acres of landscape she could have chosen but she put it right next to the pool. My son and his friend mixed in the "natural animal fertilizer" lets call it. "Why the heck did you put it there?" I said "because it was the sunniest spot" she answered. No rules! Is there such a thing as outdoor feng shui...that just can't be right!
The back porch where we all gather for quiet morning coffee and Denise's scones as each family member wakes up.....I can't wait to see the new seating area that arrived this week for the area to the left of the picture on the wrap around deck.
I hope you enjoyed the visit of this not so typical special Hamptons home. It is truly a haven for fun and our kind of relaxation. Thank you to our hosts, my sister Denise and my wonderful brother-in-law, Ricky, and my adorable niece Bergen. Together they are the warm heart of the home. What I wanted to emphasize to you is this home looks wonderful without getting hung up on every color matching and adhering to decorating rules (sorry to all my designer friends, but you're probably not reading this anyway). They acquired pieces they loved, or sometimes just liked, and it all came together, both antique and new in a perfectly imperfect way.
Best regards, Love you NEE,
Up next week, New Merchandise!
Bonny Neiman Stylish Antiques
12 Beechwood Road Summit, NJ
Monday-Saturday 10-5:30 (closed Mondays in July and August)
Thursdays until 8 PM