Cover The family room features a rug from Scott Group Studio, Jean de Merry swivel chairs and a sofa, sideboard and coffee table specially designed by Pembrooke & Ives

The airy design of this Hamptons home, created by SBP Homes and Pembrooke & Ives, makes it the ideal family retreat and the perfect foil for a vibrant art collection

A holiday home in the Hamptons: these words alone conjure up images of glamour and exclusivity. This stylish house by the beach creates the sense that nature is pouring into a warm family home—a place that has quickly become a refuge from frenetic Manhattan life.

The light-filled 17,000sqft abode features eight bedrooms and 10 bathrooms; it is big enough to accommodate the family of five plus 20 of their friends over the summer, while being cosy enough for the parents to enjoy a romantic weekend for two. Achieving all this took some clever design on the part of architectural firm SBP Homes and interior designers Pembrooke & Ives. These two firms often pair up to create the kind of sunlit houses that are becoming increasingly popular on America’s east coast.

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With its beach setting, the house will be predominantly used in summer, hence the extensive use of glass walls and floor-to-ceiling windows that let dazzling sunlight in. Achieving this, however, was an uphill battle. Part of the reason why the Hamptons retains its feeling of exclusivity is the uniformity of the design in its picturesque villages, which means planning permission is often more complicated for the front facade of houses than the back.

“The front of the house had to be a little more traditional in keeping with the town rules of Southampton Village,” says Nicdao. “We contrasted the back facade of the house with a very slick, modern look using minimal Vitrocsa doors that maximise the natural light filtering into the home. The doors slide into each other to open up the entire home to the exterior.”

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The challenge was to make this home’s design sufficiently different from another similar-sized holiday house that both companies had already designed for this family in Palm Beach. The client wanted the home to feel like a contemporary beach house which was both comfortable and liveable.

As art enthusiasts, they wanted a home that would be a beautiful backdrop for their collection—the solution was to use their paintings as the starting point, and base the aesthetics of each room around the artworks selected. The chosen pieces included works by German artist Janaina Tschape, American painter Katherine Bradford and British artist Darren Almond.

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“The clients, in collaboration with us, worked with art consultant Michelle Brunwasser of Weber Fine Art Greenwich to build the collection for this home,” explains Pembrooke & Ives design director Francis Nicdao. “They wanted a fairly neutral palette that was more about textures than colours. Any pops of colour were driven by the art placed in the room.”

This approach ensures the house never feels too crowded when all 25 spots for the artworks are used. Adds Nicdao: “We really wanted a pairing of different textures and materials that makes the home feel comfortable in all seasons. For example, using wood and plaster, as well as linens paired with mohair. The uncluttered spaces make for easy living without defining the interior too much for any particular season.”

Given the large number of guests expected at the house, the clients requested a kitchen that was convivial and relaxed, and that could attract visitors from around the village for impromptu drinks and suppers.

“We really wanted to create a large, open kitchen conducive to entertaining,” says Nicdao. “The large lighting fixtures help define the various areas and bring the ceiling height down to a human scale. We also created a second island for more casual dining. In the summer, the glass doors open up to the covered porch, where the grill and pizza oven are often used.”

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As a holiday home, the pool and its surrounds were almost as important as the interior. The team worked with American landscape designer Nievera Williams to create a swimming area they describe as “simple, open and lounge-y”.

The fact that the client likes to do laps each morning meant it needed to be long as well as deep. And no doubt it saw good use during the challenging past year, during which large swathes of New York have been shut down due to the pandemic regulations, and the Hamptons became a refuge for Manhattan’s elite.

In many ways, this extraordinary home couldn’t have been more of a tonic for the lucky family of five. “The house was completed from start to occupancy in a record 16 months; a huge feat for its size!”