Kick off your shoes and lie back – the easygoing ethos of The Hamptons is in season
Neale Whitaker explains the “Hamptons” look.
From the homes magazines that we read and the reno shows we watch, you could be forgiven for thinking we’re a nation of Scandiphiles. That’s actually a word for someone who loves all things Scandinavian. But “Hamptons” is another look we Australians embrace, inspired by the vernacular of the New York State resort communities on America’s eastern seaboard, and not to be confused – although it frequently is – with “English Country” (more decorative) or “French Provincial” (more rustic).
Personally, I put the Hamptons thing down to Something’s Gotta Give, that wildly successful Diane KeatonJack Nicholson movie from 2003. While the movie’s interiors were actually created in a Hollywood studio (the exterior was a genuine house in The Hamptons), they ticked the style boxes associated with the look: heavily laden bookshelves, polished floorboards, rugs, deep slouchy sofas and armchairs, Shaker-style panelling, exposed ceiling timbers, fresh-cut flowers, lamps, lamps, lamps… and a tight-knit palette of blue, white and natural.
Defining the essence of Hamptons style can be tricky. I recently stayed at an Australian coastal resort where the interior design was unapologetically Hamptons. But to be very honest, it felt a teeny bit soulless, with too much emphasis on assembling the right components just so, and not enough on the big picture, the mood.
So, to set things straight, I went to the horse’s mouth, metaphorically speaking. Jeffrey Alan Marks (jam-design.com) is an American interior designer whose work I’ve always admired. Marks is based in California, but works extensively on the US east coast. “Hamptons style is the east-coast version of laid-back Californian attitude,” he explains. “Without strict formality, it’s clean, bright and breezy with a seamless indoor-outdoor flow, ocean-inspired colours, natural materials and lots of natural light.” Marks also adds that a Hamptons-style home should be “cosy, inviting and relaxed”.
Closer to home, Justine Hugh-jones (justinehughjones.com) is a Sydneybased designer adept at adapting elements of the Hamptons look for an Australian lifestyle. “These interiors should call out to you to throw off your shoes,” she says. Hugh-jones considers “high ceilings, open-plan living spaces and deep verandahs” to be essential components but prefers to resist the clichés, opting for a “calm, neutral palette of whites, greys and blacks and layers of soft textures”. Perhaps it’s time to claim a new adjective to describe our Aussie take on this distinctive look. I’ll throw three names into the ring. “Peninsula”, “Bayside” or “Northern Beaches”. Any others? Neale Whitaker is editor-at-large of Vogue Living.
“Hamptons style is bright and breezy with a seamless indoor-outdoor flow”
EAST SIDE STORY (clockwise and a blue-and-white palette are key “Hamptons” elements; interior designer Justine HughJones avoids clichés by opting for black, white and neutral tones; she favours...