A Walk on the Wild Side

In­te­rior de­signer Katie Rid­der turns de­mure Hamp­tons style on its head with an elec­tric ap­proach to a young fam­ily’s sum­mer­house, where yel­low lac­quered walls, bril­liant Turk­ish pat­terns, and graphic mod­ern art set a brave back­drop of color.


Katie Rid­der turns up the heat in the Hamp­tons with ex­otic pattern plays and heroic color.

ART LOVERS OF­TEN DE­SCRIBE THE ACT of see­ing a paint­ing as a full-body ex­pe­ri­ence. So it’s only nat­u­ral that a woman who grew up among pop-art mas­ter­pieces would wish to repli­cate that feel­ing of to­tal, joy­ful im­mer­sion when it came time to cre­ate a home for her own fam­ily. And the mo­ment this Long Is­land home­owner en­coun­tered Katie Rid­der’s work in a book, she knew she’d found a kin­dred spirit: a de­signer who could bring that sense of aes­thetic trans­port to life.

Known for her ex­hil­a­rat­ing color palettes and richly lay­ered pat­terns, Rid­der de­signs ex­pe­ri­ences as much as rooms. For this project, a sum­mer­house sit­u­ated a stone’s throw from the home where the client grew up play­ing among Warhols and Licht­en­steins, she also wanted to re­flect the client’s per­son­al­ity. “She’s a happy, ex­u­ber­ant per­son,” says Rid­der.

She’s also fearless. Re­calls the client, “I told Katie, ‘Let’s go to town on the liv­ing room and din­ing room.’ For us, they’re lessused spa­ces, so why not have fun?” Bright-yel­low lac­quered walls en­sued in the din­ing room, where a pineap­ple-footed ma­hogany ta­ble holds court amid rat­tan cafe chairs and gi­ant urns flank a chic straw-mar­quetry mir­ror. In the liv­ing room, mean­while, “go­ing to town” meant go­ing half­way around the world—to Is­tan­bul, whose Top­kapi Palace was the in­spi­ra­tion for the hand-painted wallpaper (cus­tom-de­signed to fit each el­e­va­tion); to Kabul, Afghanista­n, the source of the mir­ror-backed jali screens on the fire­place wall; and to Swe­den, birth­place of a white an­tique sec­re­tary. “The ar­chi­tect orig­i­nally wanted wood pan­el­ing in the liv­ing room,” says Rid­der.


“I asked to change it to wallpaper. The room is so sunny and gar­deny that it called for a lot of pattern.” In­deed, Mother Na­ture her­self might envy the lush pro­lif­er­a­tion of in­door blooms, from the Ar­ca­dian wall pat­terns to the chrysan­the­mums on the chair upholstery; from the gi­ant leaves on the Rid­der-de­signed drap­ery to the styl­ized blos­soms on every throw pil­low.

Such more-is-more ges­tures are an­chored by Rid­der’s in­tu­itive sense of bal­ance (see page 95). “The right mix doesn’t look chaotic,” she says. “It looks com­fort­able and lay­ered.” A sharp eye for scale and rep­e­ti­tion helps too. For in­stance, a diminu­tive mo­tif on a liv­ing room pil­low echoes one on the wallpaper; an em­broi­dered line on the mas­ter head­board repli­cates the cur­tains’ pattern. And color pro­vides co­her­ence. “Green is the com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor down­stairs,” says Rid­der. “By run­ning it through every room, it cre­ates a sense of flow.”

Yet the flow in this house is far from amor­phous. Just as every great paint­ing needs the per­fect frame, in­te­rior de­sign re­quires the right ar­chi­tec­ture to com­plete and con­tain it. For this project, that came from Peter Pennoyer, a renowned clas­si­cist who also hap­pens to be Rid­der’s hus­band. The deeply ar­tic­u­lated in­te­rior door­ways he de­signed, for ex­am­ple, “lend them­selves to de­vel­op­ing rooms that are re­lated but dis­tinct in char­ac­ter,” ex­plains Pennoyer. “They cre­ate a def­i­nite place to stop one scheme

and start an­other.” For her part, Rid­der ap­pre­ci­ates the pu­rity and clar­ity of his work. “Peter’s clas­si­cal ar­chi­tec­ture re­ally frees me to do things that are vi­brant and in­ter­est­ing,” she says.

But Pennoyer is not merely the sober­ing yin to Rid­der’s wild­child yang. His work con­jures magic all its own, with ges­tures de­signed to heighten the drama of cer­tain spa­ces. In the en­try hall, the stair­case makes a wide and dra­matic U-turn as it rises. “The pas­sage from one floor to an­other be­comes more in­ter­est­ing,” says the ar­chi­tect. “By turn­ing back, you get to ex­plore the ar­chi­tec­ture as you rise.” And a dra­matic glass bay win­dow in the mas­ter bed­room “breaks out of the box,” lit­er­ally and fig­u­ra­tively, “and al­lows you to stretch a lit­tle far­ther into na­ture.” It also cre­ates a fun van­tage point. “You feel like you’ve popped out of the side of the house,” he says.

Rid­der’s eclec­ti­cism, mean­while, is al­ways grounded in prac­ti­cal con­sid­er­a­tions. The liv­ing room car­pet is in­door/out­door, a nod to the clients’ wish to move seam­lessly be­tween gar­den and house, and up­hol­stered and rounded-edge sur­faces in the fam­ily room mean that the el­e­gant space is also child-friendly. Through­out, the de­signer doesn’t shy away from us­ing plain ex­panses to pro­vide calm­ing coun­ter­points to more flam­boy­ant mo­ments. In the en­try hall, the po­tency of a deep-green ce­ramic-tiled floor is tem­pered with pale walls for an open, en­er­giz­ing wel­come.

Not sur­pris­ingly, the fin­ished house is now a wholly orig­i­nal back­drop for the clients’ own bur­geon­ing collection of art, in­clud­ing Weg­man pho­to­graphs and Warhol prints, be­neath whose joy­ful gazes their son now plays. “It’s so grat­i­fy­ing to build a fam­ily house that can mean to my son what my par­ents’ house meant to me,” says the client. “To bring that mag­i­cal, whim­si­cal feel­ing to his child­hood...it’s like a hug of color.”

A hand-painted Iznik wallpaper by Ik­sel, a leafy drap­ery fab­ric from Rid­der’s line, and a bold chrysan­the­mum print by Ben­ni­son head­line the liv­ing room’s rich pattern pa­rade.

Ce­ramic hexag­o­nal tile floor­ing ex­tends a glossy jade greet­ing in the en­try hall. The Par­sons-style bench is crafted of waxed oak and gaufrage leather. Tiles, Mo­saic House.

Ar­chi­tect Peter Pennoyer de­signed the house in the spirit of a 1912 Mediter­ranean-style villa that once oc­cu­pied the same lot. The roof­ing is New York Red Slate.

A pair of 1950s bent­wood chairs flanks an or­ange linen sofa. In the fam­ily room, a leather ot­toman and Ja­panese-bird-print sofa are fin­ished in teal trim de­tail. Pur­ple con­trast cord em­bel­lishes the vel­vet swivel chairs.

Rid­der lay­ered orchid bed upholstery over cobalt blue grass cloth walls. Drap­ery and bed fab­ric, Stu­dio Four. Vin­tage rug, Märta Måås-fjet­ter­ström.

A hand­blown glass chan­de­lier lights up a bar­rel-vaulted ceil­ing in the mas­ter bath. Pol­ished nickel tub filler, Water­works. Tub, Sun­rise Spe­cialty.

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