The quintessential Hamptons home is designed with entertaining in mind. Escaping the buzz of the city, homeowners – and their guests – head east in search of fresh air and solitude, opting to host and celebrate in the spaciousness only few places can offer. A reflection of your personality and style, a unique set of elements come together to create an extension of your interior living spaces outdoors. Components like trees, plants, and flowers in landscapes and gardens are complemented by design details like furniture and décor. With warm summer nights on the way and entertaining in mind, Hamptons landscape architects and designers look forward to shaping what creates the ideal place to entertain.
Explaining an outdoor space should share a consistent environment in relation to the home and yard, landscape designer and owner of Unlimited Earth Care in Bridgehampton Frederico Azevedo says outdoor rooms are unique, well-suited options for entertaining. Attached to the house as an extension of the patio, created in unison with another structure, or under a canopy of trees in a corner of the yard, there are some intriguing possibilities.
“The first step in designing and creating an outdoor room is choosing where it will be, whether it’s by the pool or in the middle of the woods, but space is very important,” Azevedo explains. “The minimum space requirement is the same as for a dining room, which is 12 feet by 12 feet. If you don’t fit that minimum it can become difficult to place structures like chairs, benches or a fire pit to complement the room. A lot of outdoor rooms are being created in parts of the yard that were never used previously.”
Native trees, shrubs, grasses, and flowers such as flowering dogwood, beach grass, evening primrose, and more are popular in the Hamptons according to Azevedo. He recommends elements like large scale, brightly colored statues made of recycled material to add interest in landscapes and gardens. Sharing that preservation and maintenance of the environment is not just a responsibility but a growing trend in the Hamptons, Azevedo offers that landscape design holds many opportunities.
“A landscape design composed of native trees, shrubs and flowers with a mixture of colors, varying heights, textures and elements that complement or blend in harmony with the landscape theme [is important],” Azevedo says. “All of these elements lead more people to admire the design, knowing it was done with beauty and ecological respect. A great landscape design is defined by sustainability, that is, to beautify a landscape within the natural environment. Landscape design is a very complex yet fascinating form of self-expression that evolves over time.”
Adding to the landscape of an outdoor space are the decorative design details that further enhance the space. Speaking to the importance of the homeowner’s personal lifestyle, Christine Heincke of Couture Outdoor in Southampton explains that the size of their immediate family, how many people they usually entertain, and how they like to entertain are all questions that must be answered. For example, an extendable or extra-large dining table would be suitable for dinner parties and barbecues for 10 or twelve people. If you really love to host, Heincke suggests tables with Champagne bucket and tray inserts.
“White with clean lines has been the standard and most popular in the Hamptons, but there is a strong wave of black riding in to dominate both architecture and outdoor living trends,” Heincke says of styles reflective of the East End. “Since our clientele tend to have multiple homes and we do projects all over, we also see this trending throughout the US, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.”
A Hamptons home often comes with features that promote rest and relaxation, like a pool. Working to create a beautiful yet functional entertainment space around a pool can have its challenges, but Heincke says multi-functional items, like customizable floating beanbags made from upcycled sails, can aid the transition from day to night. “They are perfect to use in the pool by day and out of the pool by night, creating a cool lounge area for cocktails or around a fire pit,” she explains. “Lighting also sets a tone, so platform sofas and daybeds that come with optional built in LED lights and work by remote control allow you to set a perfect summer ‘chill out’ vibe. Most people want to enjoy their homes as their own private oasis, so our goal is to help each individual client express their inner voice outside.”
For The Laurel Group, a landscape design/build firm that has a home and garden shop in Water Mill, it all starts with the landscape. Starting with the layout of the home and property, landscapes and hardscapes serve as the foundation for design. Taking into consideration how people entertain and how often, whether it be large soirées or intimate gatherings, among other factors, must be considered as well.
To ensure plants and flowers work in unison with outdoor furniture, chief marketing officer Matthew Riccoboni says people with excellent taste can sometimes make novice mistakes when taking on projects on their own. “It’s important to have your space reflect who you are and how you like to live,” he says. “A specialist can help you express style, satisfy your needs and make sure that they work together from a design perspective. There really isn’t something that’s wrong if you love it. Focus on things that you love and have an expert layer in elements that create a cohesive aesthetic.”
Similar to interiors, creative director Tina McAteer, who co-owns The Laurel Group with her husband, Mark McAteer, says homeowners and designers take a similar approach to selecting styles like traditional, eclectic, and midcentury. The firm has developed a style of design that is a culmination of different types of furniture, fabric, and accessories to create individual outdoor living spaces for their clients.
“We take a holistic design approach that includes landscape design, showpiece plantings, fine outdoor furnishings, artful landscape lighting, and the perfect complement of accessories,” McAteer says. “Whether it’s a farmhouse with a stone fire pit flanked by teak lounge chairs or a modern set of dining tables on a waterfront terrace, an outdoor living space is designed to mirror the lifestyle and taste of its owners. We curate the perfect outdoor space to fit every client’s individual needs.”
The expression of your personal style inside and outside your home is worth sharing. Functional in purpose and aesthetically appealing, your outdoor living space serves as a place to relax and a place to party in any fashion that suits you. Take into account the landscape itself and the design elements that create a cohesive, airy space, and start planning your Hamptons summer right at home.