After Re-Discovering Her Calling In The Hamptons, An Interior Designer Sets The Tone In Blue.
Katie White stumbled into a career in interior design after working in investment banking. Decorating was her first love and it came naturally to her. “When I was way younger, I wanted to be an architect,” she recalls. “I spent hours at a drafting table. But then, in college, I took the safe route and studied economics.” It wasn’t until she bought her first home on Shelter Island that she changed course. She updated that house and when it was complete, she says, “I was like, I need another project, quick!” She began helping out friends and family, and before long people began sending referrals her way.
A couple of years ago White set her sights on moving to Bridgehampton. In short order, she found a spec house just outside the village that gave on to open fields. What drew her to the property — apart from the fantastic views — was the fact that it was a blank slate. She recognized an opportunity to put her mark on the house, to make it her own.
“I first saw the property in 2017 when the only thing on it was a tiny cottage. After the developer cleared the land, I remember driving by and thinking, Oh my God, the views are amazing. Because only the framing has been done, I was able to select the trim, the fixtures, the floors, everything.” But that was just the beginning. White had over six-thousand-square-feet to decorate: eight bedrooms (one of which she turned into an office), seven en suite bathrooms, and two half bathrooms.
The result is the long, narrow structure with double-height ceilings that White calls “modern farmhouse.” While the décor is eclectic, the motif that ties it altogether is the color blue. The blue theme began with a slab of Azul Macaubas quartzite. With its elaborate undulations and wave-like forms, it reminded her of the ocean. “It cost quite a bit more than I had budgeted, but it was a good call, as it ended up guiding the other finishes in the house.”
Thus, the walls of the formal living room (one of two) are clad in blue grasscloth paper, as is much of the upholstery — from the blue leather-bottomed counter stools in the kitchen to the Holly Hunt chairs in the formal sitting room. “Blue is a very calming color and it felt Hamptons-appropriate,” says White. For warmth and contrast, she lay down grey wide plank floorboards of engineered wood. “I do a lot of whitewashed oak floors for my clients in the Hamptons, and they look beautiful, but I wanted something a little different,” she notes.
Statement-making lighting was her other bold design move. “I think of lights as the jewelry of the house,” says White. Among those jewels are a custom chandelier she designed in brass that starts on the second story of the house and drops down through the stairwell, tying the two floors together. In the formal dining room, White hung Ochre’s ‘Arctic Pear,’ a halo chandelier bedecked with dozens and dozens of crystals. For added interest, she clad the area over the dining table with wallpaper in a black and white pattern by Kelly Wearstler.
Overall, the house reflects White’s own personal taste and style and way of life. “When I work with clients, one of the first things I ask is how they are going to use the space. For me, as someone who has a kid and three dogs, I need everything to be absolutely bullet-proof in terms of upholstery. That means performance fabric all around. You don’t want to be constantly running around after guests and worrying about high traffic areas.”
Not all her clients have kids and dogs, however, a fact that influences their choice of materials. To wit, White is currently working on an addition to a house on Shelter Island that will feature big slabs of Calacatta Viola marble throughout. Says White: “The owner created a massive library and we are using marble everywhere, including on a seven-foot-high mantelpiece. It’s going to be pretty spectacular.”