A his­toric cot­tage in the Hamp­tons is dec­o­rated with Nordic charm.

Cottages & Bungalows - - Contents - BY MERYL SCHOENBAUM

Dis­cover the keys to dec­o­rat­ing your cot­tage with the sim­ple beauty of north­ern Europe.

PASSPORT TO EUROPE. The tray ta­ble in the liv­ing room was fash­ioned from an old black tray on top of a suit­case stand. The can­dle­stick holder is from France, the foot­stool is from Swe­den and the clay pot is from Nor­way. Bernt and Wil­liam de­signed the chairs and had them up­hol­stered in a cream-col­ored fab­ric for a

soft look that blends with the walls and draperies.

|ABOVE| SCENIC SEAT­ING. This ter­race above the din­ing room fea­tures a gar­den view with com­fort­able seat­ing. The fur­ni­ture was con­structed to be

used year round. “It dries in sec­onds, and there’s no has­sle of tak­ing it in and out,” Bernt says. The up­hol­stery is made with durable Sun­brella fab­ric,

which af­fords com­fort­able, all-weather seat­ing. |BE­LOW| Cast-iron fram­ing around the doors and win­dows com­ple­ments the orig­i­nal red-brick pa­tio. The an­tique ta­ble with plants and pot­tery is used as a break­fast area. Wicker chairs with­stand the weather.

Avast ocean and nearly 4,000 miles sep­a­rate Sag Har­bor from Scan­di­navia, but one cot­tage brings the sim­ple beauty of the North­ern Europe re­gion to the Long Is­land, New York, coastal vil­lage. If your dream cot­tage is a soul­ful har­mony of fur­ni­ture with clean lines, sub­tle color schemes and cu­rated art and an­tiques, then you would feel right at home here, no matter where you live. Bernt Heiberg and Wil­liam Cum­mings, of Heiberg Cum­mings De­sign based in New York and Oslo, Nor­way, were the in­te­rior de­sign­ers and own­ers of this sim­pli­fied Vic­to­rian cot­tage. Upon first in­spect­ing it, Bernt in­stantly knew he had found his dream cot­tage.

“It was built around the turn of the cen­tury and was likely a ship owner or cap­tain’s house in this old whal­ing town,” Bernt says. “Our pri­mary home is in Man­hat­tan, and we knew this cot­tage would be the per­fect lo­ca­tion for our sec­ondary ‘coun­try’ home.” Bernt and Wil­liam were for­tu­nate in that the cot­tage had not been given an in­ap­pro­pri­ate mid­cen­tury-style re­model as many other pe­riod homes they toured had un­der­gone.

“We didn’t use too

many pat­terns. We like to let the fur­ni­ture and art

speak for them­selves.”


“We wanted to give the house a re­spect­ful ren­o­va­tion to bring it up to code with up­scale fa­cil­i­ties and a neo­clas­si­cal Scan­di­na­vian dé­cor,” Bernt says. “It had good bones and per­son­al­ity but lacked its orig­i­nal grandeur. We wanted it to have some for­mal­ity, like a town­house.”

Sag Har­bor is in the Hamp­tons, and the up­scale vil­lage is very authentic, so Bernt and Wil­liam wanted the in­te­rior to main­tain the look of a his­tor­i­cal home, which in­formed their choices of paint, fur­ni­ture, fabrics, light­ing, art and ac­ces­sories. They in­stalled bath­rooms with heated floors, air con­di­tion­ing and other mod­ern con­ve­niences, but kept the charm of the cot­tage in­tact.

COZY CHARM. This view of the liv­ing room fac­ing the din­ing room fea­tures dark floors con­nect­ing both rooms. An­other at­trac­tive fea­ture is that the fire­place can be viewed from both rooms. “We dis­cussed di­vid­ing the main for­mal liv­ing room into two rooms but de­cided against it be­cause the open­ness was per­fect for the house,” Bernt says. The de­sign­ers painted the walls gray in the din­ing room and white in the liv­ing room for an in­ter­est­ing di­men­sional look. In the liv­ing room, the win­dows were at dif­fer­ent heights, but they kept the drap­ery rods at the same lev­els to trick the eye so you can’t tell the dif­fer­ence. The farm ta­ble is Amer­i­can vin­tage, and the chair is Swedish as is the small tray ta­ble with carafes.

Use an­tique frames—even on mod­ern art—for a co­he­sive look in a

his­toric home. FO­CUS ON FAM­ILY. This area of the guestroom dis­plays per­sonal me­men­tos. A small French oak ta­ble fea­tures fam­ily pho­tographs. Above the ta­ble is a col­lec­tion of old and vin­tage pho­tographs show­ing Bernt and Wil­liam’s fam­i­lies, in­clud­ing a framed il­lus­tra­tion of Bernt’s fam­ily tree from Nor­way.


Bernt had lived in Europe for many years and brought his an­tiques—along with his Gus­ta­vian/Nordic aes­thetic—from Scan­di­navia to the States. “We col­lect an­tiques and aged things. Ev­ery item has a soul,” he says. “I feel like an artist work­ing on his can­vas when I mix an­tiques with newer items and sur­pris­ing ob­jects.” He re­framed most of the art with an­tique frames, even the mod­ern art, to give them a co­he­sive look for the time pe­riod.

High-gloss paint was used through­out the cot­tage. “In the old days they used high-gloss paint in homes, so we painted the ceil­ings and kitchen cab­i­nets in high-gloss be­cause it gives the ap­pear­ance of a clean, older home,” Bernt ex­plains. “We set the ta­ble with cream or white china.” He calls the look coun­try min­i­mal­ism. “We didn’t use too many pat­terns. We like to let the fur­ni­ture and art speak for them­selves.”

The home’s light­ing was also care­fully con­sid­ered. “The source of light­ing is so im­por­tant. It can even change the look of tex­tures,” Bernt says. “When we do ren­o­va­tions, we love us­ing light that be­longed to that time pe­riod, so we avoid us­ing too many halo­gens. Nat­u­ral light and can­dles are best for light­ing a his­toric home. They give you a con­nec­tion to the past and an ap­pre­ci­a­tion for it. We use a lot of can­dles in Nor­way. We did not use any blue halo­gens in this house; in­stead, we lit the can­dles and the fire­place. We like to use Edi­son bulbs be­cause they make ev­ery­thing glow at night.”

Color played a ma­jor role in defin­ing the spa­ces. “We wanted a con­trast be­tween light and dark for the color pal­ette, so in the din­ing room we se­lected white and char­coal gray, which we re­peated through­out the home. The din­ing-room floor was a hon­ey­mus­tard color, which we knew needed to be dark for con­trast.”

COUN­TRY-COT­TAGE KITCHEN. The de­sign­ers opened up the kitchen to the court­yard with black-trimmed French doors. They added lots of open shelves for a coun­try-cot­tage look. “It was too re­stric­tive to have cab­i­nets all the way around,” Bernt says. The ceil­ing was painted with high-gloss paint. Clas­sic sub­way tiles adorn the walls, and a heated floor was added for com­fort. The cast-iron butcher-block in the fore­ground is part of a rail­ing that leads down­stairs. A large farm sink is the per­fect fit for the coun­try-cot­tage look.

Bernt is par­tial to the din­ing room for sev­eral rea­sons, in­clud­ing its lo­ca­tion. “The din­ing room is my fa­vorite room in the cot­tage be­cause it’s the clos­est to the fire­place. The dark­ness of the floor against the white linen draperies is very beau­ti­ful, and the lo­ca­tion is won­der­ful,” he says. “It is con­nected to the court­yard and close to the kitchen. We didn’t use the liv­ing room as much as the din­ing room.”


The ex­te­rior was in­spired by an­other Euro­pean re­gion. “We cre­ated a court­yard in the gar­den that looks like it’s in the Mediter­ranean,” Bernt says. “We used gravel on the ground in­stead of grass, and kept the old brick and stone pa­tios, which gave the gar­dens an Ital­ian feel.”

Bernt and Wil­liam’s coastal cot­tage ful­filled their dream of hav­ing a place to un­wind and re­fresh from their week in the con­crete jun­gle. “In Scan­di­navia, we al­ways have cot­tages in the moun­tains and by the ocean, so cot­tages mean com­fort to me,” Bernt says. “The change of scenery from the city to coun­try ap­peals to me. It adds some­thing new and dif­fer­ent to your life­style, and chal­lenges how you live day to day.”

“We col­lect an­tiques and aged things.

Ev­ery item has a soul.”

FAB­U­LOUS FIRE­PLACE. The din­ing room, Bernt’s fa­vorite area of the home, fea­tures an or­nate mar­ble fire­place as its fo­cal point. The green tone of the walls is the only dark color in the house. The orig­i­nal honey-mus­tard color floor is now ebony-stained...

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