When they first viewed the property that was to become their much-loved Hamptons holiday home, Ian Ferguson and Ryan Brandau weren’t overly impressed. ‘It wasn’t love at first sight, but our broker was convinced that the house was right for us and she could envisage something beyond what we were seeing,’ recalls Ian. The couple had been in a long-distance relationship between New York and California for several years before settling on an apartment in Manhattan, and wanted to complement their city lifestyle with a retreat in the Hamptons to be shared with Ian’s parents. ‘We love tennis and one of our criteria was for a court and a pool,’ adds Ryan. Clad in shingle and featuring multiple gables as is the New England style, the house was repainted to refine its architectural qualities. ‘It was originally pale, which exaggerated some of its weird shapes – as if it were all roof and no walls. By painting it a darker colour, closer to the roof, we toned it down and made it look a bit more thoughtful,’ says Ian. The house had been built in the early Noughties, but lacked the architectural detailing the couple craved. A year after they bought it, an overhaul of the basement triggered the extended project. Sarah Zames, of the interior design firm General Assembly, was recommended and became the linchpin of the redesign. ‘One of the priorities was to create more architectural interest internally,’ says Sarah. ‘We wanted to add texture and colour, giving each room an individual character.’ The property was stripped back and given a new floor plan with fewer walls, instilling in the house a more sociable, loose character. ‘We tried to expand and connect the spaces as much as possible,’ she says. ‘Previously, the kitchen was small with the dining area next door relatively constricted and a sprawling main room that hadn’t been put to good use,’ says Ian. Sight lines became important so that anyone cooking would be able to see out onto the porch and tennis court beyond. Upstairs, the landing ‘catwalk’ was widened, while bedrooms were made bigger and en-suite bathrooms added. In terms of decor, the couple aimed for a relaxed look that would appeal across the generational divide. ‘We wanted the interior to have a sense of fun and although we felt it should be beautifully designed we didn’t want it to feel stuffy or intimidating,’ says Ian. Across the ground floor indoor/outdoor rugs have been used while much of the upholstery is from Holly Hunt’s outdoor range, making it impervious to the scratches of Tux, Ian and Ryan’s dog. An emphasis on craftsmanship and natural materials has also reduced the formality of the highly designed spaces, as Sarah explains, ‘The marble of the dining table is a feature, while all the built-in furniture is made of smoked oak, with the floors of a lighter bleached oak.’ White walls delineate the crisp planes of the slanted ceiling in the main living area with a host of Farrow & Ball colours giving bedrooms individual character. The paint is not the only British touch, with new London projects by General Assembly bringing a transatlantic influence. ‘We discovered several furniture designers at London Design Festival and the wallpaper in the cloakroom is from House of Hackney,’ says Sarah. Many months after its completion, Ian and Ryan continue to be enthralled with their retreat. ‘We love the fact that even if there are 20 guests staying, we’ve used the idiosyncrasies of the architecture to create a private nook for everyone,’ says Ian. ‘It’s great seeing the house unfold and be used as we planned.
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