Home & Design

NYC Vs. Hamptons

How Style By The Beach Compares To Digs In The City
By Heather Senison - March 26, 2019

New York City and the Hamptons have one of the oldest and most successful marriages in real estate history. Like many couples, they’re so good together largely because of their differences: one offers excitement, innovation and cultural institutions, and the other has small towns, quiet streets and beaches. For many, spending time in both means truly having it all.

However, as is often the case with unions forged between two strong northeast personalities, the regions compete a little too. While many full-time city dwellers view the east end as just a convenient vacation spot, there are plenty of year-round Hamptonites who visit the city on occasion but would never live there. 

To get a sense of the contrasts and parallels in the architecture and design in the two markets, we asked experts who hop between them for their insight: on layout, style, and materials. 

Typically, floorplans in the city are pre-determined by developers, while Hamptons homeowners can tear down existing structures and rebuild their dream homes from scratch. 

In both places, however, minimalism is key, noted Dana Buckley, a real estate agent with Stribling. Buckley lives and works in Manhattan and has a home in Quogue that she purchased and then remodeled. “People are attracted to more of a blank palette now,” she said. “Our house on Long Island rents every single summer and I think it’s because it’s plain and simple and uncluttered.” 

Unlike in pre-war construction, when rooms were strictly sectioned off from each other, homeowners today prefer open layouts, added Kristen Farrell, an interior designer with clients in both the city and the Hamptons. “There’s still a need for some privacy for an office or den or TV room, but overall the flow and the continuous nature of one room opening to the next is definitely more popular,” she said. 

If there’s one thing that Douglas Elliman broker Ronnie Diamonde notices about those who have properties in both markets, it’s that if they have a specific theme in one home, they’ll want something completely different in the other. “People who live in something ultra modern in the city, that’s crisp and clean and stark, they will have the most traditional, shabby chic environment out east,” he said. 

Buckley notices that modern decor is typically preferred for city digs, where dark colors, clean lines and overall sophistication match the urban landscape outside. In Hamptons beach houses, however, even the wealthiest homeowners want to be comfy. 

Regardless of what concept you choose for which home, the style should be consistent throughout a space, Farrell added. It’s fine to have contemporary new construction by the beach and a pre-war old-world concept in the city, but what you don’t want is a house that’s half French revival and half mid-century modern. “Each room can have a pop of color or something unexpected, but overall there does need to be a cohesiveness, because that’s what makes a home feel so appealing and welcoming,” she explained. 

Between the sand, tiny blades of freshly cut grass and air that’s damp in any season, Hamptons homeowners are in a constant battle to keep their spaces clean. But what’s interesting to Farrell is that her clients in the city are fighting the same war, since dogs, children and rain can make urban homes just as filthy. 

To combat these issues, high-end textile designers like Sunbrella and Holly Hunt are producing new lines of performance fabrics that are easy to clean but are still aesthetically beautiful and luxurious. 

And while marble, metal and leather are more common in the city, Diamonde prefers less polished materials like sanded wood and faded paint for his restored farmhouse in Southampton. “I like wood that looks rustic, that looks aged, and then it’s mixed in with a furniture that was constructed 60 years ago,” Diamonde said. He suggested heading to Long Island’s antique shops for authentic pieces, noting that, “you can buy stuff that depicts a weathered look, but it doesn’t look as good as the real thing.”

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