Terrific TransitionalKRISTEN FARRELL Gives This WATER MILL Traditional a Modern Feel
When you think of a typical Farrell house, you think ‘traditional.’ However, that paradigm has shifted. Take one of their latest projects: 47 Crescent Avenue in Water Mill. While at first glance the shingled exterior might shout “traditional,” there are decidedly dramatic modern touches such as the arched glass front door and a column of bay windows, which are both framed in edgy black steel. It’s all in the firm’s mandate to make their properties “fresh and current” while retaining the “architectural theme of the Hamptons” according to Kristen Farrell, company vice president and wife of founder, Joe Farrell.
While the Farrell Building Co. is known for its grand double-height foyers, this one is lined with a patchwork of bleached white oak panels and hung with an Arteriors chandelier that resembles the Sputnik, both further winks at modernism. “We’re introducing new things,” says Farrell. “My job is to find inspiration in other places.” This she does in her travels or by thumbing through magazines. She waits for an “emotional response,” she says. “You suddenly get a hit. If it moves me I have to trust my instincts that it will work.”
Moving into the great room, there is a second paneling at work: shiplap. But here the ribs are horizontal, giving the traditional element an update. Modern motifs obtain throughout from the five streamlined limestone fireplaces to the kitchen with its combination of polished and brushed nickel hardware on the cabinet faces “to add sexiness.”
What she and her husband are building these days are “customized spec homes.” Typically, a spec home, she points out, was a pretty bare bones affair. “The builder threw it up and the buyer would have to add molding and change the faucets.” These days a Farrell house is fully customized to the point where Farrell says she can “see myself living there.”
But most interesting is the fact that the couple are expanding their brand by designing and manufacturing their own line of home furnishings and finishings. At 47 Crescent the company’s stamp on just about everything is apparent from furniture to hardware to a stove hood. They even make their own tile.
The Farrells are well aware that the furniture market is saturated. However, Kristen saw a niche. “There was a void in the scale and functionality to fit the Hamptons.” Case in point: in the den, they made sofas with low backs, making it possible to see into the room. “You can go anywhere to buy sophisticated furniture, but do you really want to sit in that chair?” Her directive is to make furniture that is both sophisticated and comfortable – to cater to “the Hamptons lifestyle.”
Also in the den are a pair of square Farrell-designed coffee tables that fit the expansive space better than one. Even dining tables, which seat a minimum of 12, are made bigger to reflect Hamptonites’ penchant for entertaining.
The theme of number 47 is very much earthy. “In the baths I wanted the natural element of grass cloth as much as possible.” Baths also sport natural tones – think driftwood with dolomite highlights – to match the limestone in the master bath and mantels throughout. “When doing a mood board and laying it all out I need to make sure it all matches the initial vision.”
And the vision for this house, despite its many nods toward modernity, is “a quiet sophistication with warm tones,” she says. With its location down the road from the bay and abutting an agricultural reserve, she “wanted to be able to open doors and allow the outside in. “I think we achieved that.” They certainly did if you consider that the patio’s cement ping pong table is the first thing you see when you look out the great room’s sliding glass doors.
“My goal was country house meets modern design meets Hamptons beach.”
But this is not to say that all Farrell houses follow the same design strategy. “Our next house might be in contrast to the neutrals here. She waxes excitedly about how it might have “lots of grays, added metal touches in the master suite, a black and silver theater . . .” One thing we do know: Farrell houses have caught up with the times.