Art and Soul
When David Scott and Alex Pashkowsky, clapped eyes on a 7,000-square-foot shingled house sitting on three acres of land in Sag Harbor’s North Haven neighborhood, the couple made three major decisions within minutes. The first decision was to buy the place. In style and form, the structure was reminiscent of the vernacular architecture of Nantucket, even though it was a new-ish build from the early aughts with standard-issue finishes throughout. Hence their second decision, namely to refurbish it from the ground up. “The house had a rambling charm,” Scott, of David Scott Interiors, recalls. “And good bones. But there was a lot of sheet rock and there wasn’t much molding and the rooms were pretty bare.” As the two men walked the property, they felt certain that the six bedroom, eight bathroom house had the potential for greatness. The only thing it lacked was, in Scott’s word, “soul.”
And that realization led to the pair’s third snap decision: Scott’s design would eschew the standard hallmarks of beach décor. The place would not have the white-on-white palette or the chilly minimalist aesthetics of a typical high-end Hamptons weekend house. Instead, there would be loads of colors and fantastic art and interesting objects. The interiors would be moody and deep-textured. Most important of all, there would be spaces for living large all year long. A space of exuberant splendor checked by maximum restraint. It was true that the house was rather large for just two people. But the opportunity — and for an interior designer, what is a house if not a creative opportunity? — was too good to pass up.
That was in 2015. Now, three seasons into the pandemic, Scott’s vision of an elegant, welcoming retreat in which to weather the storm seems prescient, to say the least. “I wanted a warm, enveloped feeling to come over you the second you walk through the door,” says Scott. “I don’t like jarring, jolt-giving, wow-look-at-that interiors. I think comfort is more important than eliciting a strong reaction, especially when you first enter a home.” To this end, he covered the entrance hall walls in grey Amalfi raw silk. He lacquered all the interior doors in Farrow and Ball’s Hague Blue, covered the walls in sumptuous fabrics by Phillip Jeffries, and “fumed” the wide plank oak floors — a specialist process — to highlight the grain and bring out a gray-earth hue.
But all that came later, after the pair reconfigured the property’s layout and re-designed the gardens, re-orienting a driveway in the process. Over the course of seven months, he and Pashkowsky created a bar and a butler’s pantry. They turned a children’s play room into a sun room and a formal dining room into a family room. They sheared off an improbable Juliette balcony that was suspended over the living room. They added molding where there was none and turned a guest room into a study and panelled some of the walls as in an English club.
Once the canvas was primed, so to speak, it was ready for Scott’s extraordinary collection of art work, including a 1967 aquatine on paper by Joan Miró, L’astre du marécage, and a porcelain and steel cocktail table by a young South African artist named Andile Dyalvane whose work Scott discovered at Design Miami through the dealer Southern Guild.
“I love both ceramics and Modernist ideas,” says Scott, who was drawn to how the piece referenced Picasso in color and form. It inspired him to incorporate those colors throughout the house in subtle ways: a bold red dash here, a custom rug with the tiniest bit of yellow there. “It’s like composing music,” he says. “It’s about creating the conditions that allow the art to take center stage and using the other furnishings to support them so that all these beautiful things speak to each other.”
Arranged in such a manner, objects tell a story. The house that Scott and Pashkowsky bought tells a story, too. It’s the story of two design-lovers who threw their heart and soul into renovating, decorating, and landscaping the property. On completing the project, they realized that a house with eighteen pairs of French doors and nine sofas was a bit grand for the two of them, and so they sold the place to a young family. There’s a happy ending: it turned out that Scott and the new owners are kindred souls in matters of style. He has just finished decorating their Manhattan home.