De­sign Crush

The ven­er­a­ble de­signer on the hall­marks of a great beach house, im­pro­vis­ing, and why you won’t find any chintz in his Abaco home

Coastal Living - - CONTENTS - BY MIMI READ

Tom Scheerer’s beach house es­sen­tials (straw hats!) and is­land in­spi­ra­tion

TOM SCHEERER HAS SOME RULES. “In­for­mal­ity is my watch­word, es­pe­cially at the beach,” he says. The Man­hat­tan­based de­signer’s crisp, breezy dec­o­rat­ing style has graced es­capes in­clud­ing the tony Ly­ford Cay Club and three of his own homes in the Ba­hamas. “I don’t like any­thing too shiny, too glitzy, or too pol­ished along the shore.”

He grew up spend­ing sum­mers at his grand­mother’s shin­gled cot­tage a few feet be­hind the dunes of Ge­or­gica Beach in East Hamp­ton, New York, and from there fol­lowed a deep fa­mil­iar­ity with the cul­tural nu­ances and easy­go­ing na­ture of watery places. “In dec­o­rat­ing, great lo­cales tell me what to do,” he ex­plains. “Dif­fer­ent places call for dif­fer­ent de­sign choices. For in­stance, I use batiks in the trop­ics but not in the North­east. Airy, flow­ery chintzes al­ways seem right in East Hamp­ton but would be an off note in my house in the Aba­cos. So I al­ways start with the beach.”

No mat­ter the stretch of sand, prac­ti­cal­ity and dura­bil­ity count heav­ily: “My per­sonal style calls for patina,” Scheerer says. “It’s a great cam­ou­flage for sand on the floor, in­evitable rust, and of­ten a lit­tle mildew!” This trans­lates into rough stone paving or con­crete floors “with or with­out seashells worked into them.” Fea­tures he tends to use over and over at the beach in­clude walls cov­ered in straw hats (a trick he picked up from his grand­mother), lamps made from shapely glass bot­tles, nat­u­ral grass­cloth up­hol­stery in a ra­di­antly blond hue, weath­ered teak, and in­de­struc­tible Formica cof­fee ta­bles de­signed to a room’s pro­por­tions.

“It’s a loose for­mula that hap­pily al­lows for im­pro­vi­sa­tion,” Scheerer says. “Be­ing overly de­lib­er­ate can some­times spoil the fun.”

Scheerer on the steps of his beach house in the Ba­hamas

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