Worth the wait

VOGUE Living Australia - - HOMES -

If you’re an ar­chi­tect look­ing to work with Deborra-lee Furness, you’re go­ing to need nerves of steel. “I’m a bit of a per­fec­tion­ist and a com­mit­ment-phobe, which is not a great com­bi­na­tion,” she smiles over a grilled chicken salad and a Diet Coke — “my one vice” — at the Kit Kemp-de­signed Crosby Street Ho­tel in New York’s SoHo. That suite of per­son­al­ity traits might ex­plain why the East Hamp­ton hol­i­day home that Furness and her hus­band, Hol­ly­wood megas­tar Hugh Jack­man, had bought for the sum­mer months re­mains in the de­sign phase al­most four years on. The cou­ple and their chil­dren, Os­car, 18, and Ava, 13, along with pooches Dali and Al­le­gra have all cosied up in the prop­erty’s guest­house in­stead. “[The main house] has taken so long to build be­cause I keep chang­ing my mind,” con­fides Furness, who has de­signed the en­tire re­treat in con­junc­tion with Bridge­hamp­ton-based ar­chi­tec­ture firm Stelle Lomont Rouhani. (She also col­lab­o­rated closely with the ar­chi­tects on key fur­nish­ings and pieces.) “And then we’d travel to Greece or Ja­pan or Mo­rocco, and I would get in­spired by my sur­round­ings, so I’d come back and go to the ar­chi­tect and say, ‘I’ve got a great idea!’ And the ar­chi­tect would be like, ‘Oh my God, here she goes again.’”

The un­ex­pected up­side of Furness’s in­de­ci­sion has been the restora­tion of the 435-square-me­tre wooden cabin they’re cur­rently in­hab­it­ing. Pre­vi­ously oc­cu­pied by an artist, it has sat on the land since the 1970s. “I’m a com­plete mod­ernist, and the shack was tan tiles and a lot of tan wood,” Furness says, “which wasn’t my usual de­sign style.” Still, she con­ceded it had great bones, so she and Jack­man — along with ar­chi­tect Vi­ola Rouhani and in­te­rior de­signer Eleanor Don­nelly — de­cided to hon­our the shack’s his­tory by go­ing en­tirely with wood, paint­ing the ex­te­rior black and bleach­ing out wooden floor­boards. “I love op­po­sites — I’m very into black and white,” Furness says. “All the in­te­ri­ors are neu­tral tones and I think the ar­chi­tects were push­ing me to­wards do­ing the main house black, but it will be white — the Jun­gian, the yin and the yang.” She adds: “I’m not usu­ally a wood girl — I’m more of a stone girl — but when you tran­si­tion some­thing com­pletely, what’s the point?” Furness charts her pas­sion for de­sign back to two key in­flu­ences in her life: her late mother, Fay Dun­can — who was awarded an Or­der of Aus­tralia medal for her tire­less char­ity work — and her pro­fes­sion. “We moved 12 times,” re­calls the Syd­ney-born Furness of her peri­patetic child­hood. “Peo­ple would say, ‘Is your mother a diplo­mat?’ And I’d say, ‘No, she just likes to dec­o­rate.” ››

The ap­proach and en­try to the Hamp­tons home of Deborra-lee Furness and Hugh Jack­man, a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Furness, Stelle Lomont Rouhani Ar­chi­tects and LaGuardia De­sign Group land­sca­pers. De­tails, last pages.

THIS PAGE in the gazebo, linen drap­ery from Aus­tralia’s Hale Mer­can­tile Co. OP­PO­SITE PAGE in the pav­il­ion, be­spoke built-in so­fas by Deborra-lee Furness with Eleanor Don­nelly of Stelle Lomont Rouhani Ar­chi­tects; up­hol­stery by Up­hol­stery of the Hamp­tons, in fab­ric by Hol­land & Sherry; Furness wears a Bon­nie Young navy tu­nic and an Élu neck­lace.

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