Function Meets Style
It’s not an exaggeration to say that the 1998 design and building of Melanie Roy’s Bridgehampton house changed her life. The 15-year veteran of TV production with credits for work on such shows as Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, enjoyed the creative process so much that she switched careers afterward to become an interior designer.
While she bought the one-acre parcel replete with “teeny” house while she was still single, by the time she was ready to start the project she was beginning a family. She designed the space with her children – her two sons are now 16 and 13 – very much in mind. In fact, now she is known for her “family-friendly” designs.
“I have a passion and depth of knowledge for designing family homes that are truly functional and comfortable while also being beautiful and stylish,” she says.
Raised in New York City as the daughter of the well-known comedian and celebrated actor, Rodney Dangerfield, Melanie grew up in the arts. Following her successful career in television, she went back to school at the New York School of Interior Design. An internship at Cullman & Kravis – “I was the oldest intern in the world” — led to a job there and eventually to her own business, Melanie Roy Design.
Back then, while looking for an architect she collected images of Hamptons houses she liked. When she met with who would become her architect, the late Michael Conway, she was amazed that many of her images were of homes he had designed.
She desired traditional sensibility with an open and airy feel. “I wanted it to feel classic, like it had been here a long time, and I wanted to create beautiful memories in it.”
The dramatically large entry hall, which opens into the living room and has views to the backyard and pool, doesn’t feel overly grand. A casual cane sofa lends just the right note of accessibility.
She chose a blue and white palette to reflect the natural surroundings. The property is on Surfside Drive, across the street from the ocean. Dark stained oak floors and furnishings act as a foil to the neutral background. Upstairs, where there are natural vistas aplenty including views of the sea, she instituted a lighter palette to “let nature be the star.”
The blue and white motif meanders throughout the space in decorative items such as the many pieces of pottery – from stools to ginger jars — she picked up in Hong Kong that create focal points in spots such as the living room mantelpiece. “I started with those as a foundation and built around them,” collecting other more functional pieces such as platters and bowls.
One concession to life with kids was her use of durable outdoor fabrics on inside furniture, especially on the blue-and-white pinstripe-upholstered dining chairs. For clients, she’s been known to use similarly smart fabrics on huge sectional sofas.
Despite her lack of experience at the time, she knew instinctively that the color scheme, which continues with textiles, wine glasses, silverware, wallpaper and even the blue felt on a pool table, would create a flow between rooms.
Reminders of the sea abound from shells to driftwood. For dinner parties the consummate hostess uses beach stones as place cards. “I absolutely love the ocean and wanted to reflect its beauty.” A marine theme is also apparent in such items as a custom mirror that hangs from boat cleats, a nautical cage light fixture and a porthole window that looks over the sea from the second story. The piece de resistance is a rusting anchor that greets visitors outside the front door.
As much as she loves her home, if she were to update it she would have it reflect the style for which she has become known: a more contemporary look with a softer palette, pops of color and streamlined furniture. But as stylish as it would be, she would ensure that it would maintain its functionality. “I design so that everyone feels at home; I don’t want anyone to feel they can’t sit on a couch.”