Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Interiors Spotlight - The Hamptons with James Michael Howard!

It goes without saying that holidays can be wonderfully invigorating,  joyful and restful occasions. With any luck, we come home feeling refreshed, renewed and ready for fresh challenges...

...Exploring new places and seeing foreign cultures at first hand can be incredibly exciting, or perhaps your idea of the perfect holiday involves sampling foreign cuisine and trying out local restaurants or visiting museums and places of architectural interest and fully immersing yourself into the lifestyle of your chosen vacation spot...

Our home for the summer, designed by owner James Michael Howard 
I am all for everything listed above.  Architecture and food are definitely on my top priority list...

However, being somewhat of an interiors addict, I find that for me, the most successful holidays are the ones where I stay somewhere that inspires me and opens my eyes to new interior ideas and ways of living that I can bring home with me to reinterpret in Hill House...

Me & My 'nephew' Jake!
Our recent trip to The Hamptons was a perfect example of providing something for everyone in the Sutton household.  My family enjoyed the delights of the pool, the beach, the fabulous restaurants and glamorous shops...

Jake enjoying 'The Good Life'!
While I went around practically drooling at the houses, the immaculate planting, the perfectly tended gardens and the abundance of exquisite 18th century shingle buildings and estates hidden behind high boxwood hedges and swathes of bobbing hydrangea bushes...

Classically inspired landscaping.
As a lover of traditional houses with perfect symmetry, The Hamptons provided a visual feast of architectural periods, styles and interpretations all executed along this similar theme...

Being guests of my family who were leasing a house for the extended Summer season with a view to potentially buying in the region (Yes please - we want to come back!), we were able to throw ourselves fully into the joys of Hamptons Living - almost feeling like locals by the time we left...

For those who aren't aware, 'The Hamptons' is the name given to part of the East End of Long Island. It compromises of a group of villages and hamlets in the towns of Southampton and East Hampton, which together form the South Fork of LongIsland in Suffolk County, New York.

The house we stayed in is the vision of interior decorator extraordinaire, James Michael Howard, who worked with architects McAlpine to design what to me is close to being a perfect Hamptons home (although to be honest, similar to a child in a sweetshop - almost every home I saw was an exquisite example of a "Perfect Hamptons Home").  Not forgetting, the exquisite landscaping of the gardens and grounds done by Michael Derrig.

The Gardens.

Each room in the house - and there were many to explore and enjoy - is an interior design lovers dream - bedrooms included...

Me thinking about the bedding spree that I intended to go on when I arrive home!
What was particularly inspiring is how James Michael Howard has managed to give a contemporary feeling to the interiors, without compromising on a traditional and homely feel.  There were many interior details, bespoke pieces of furniture, and decorative groupings that wouldn't look out of place at Hill House despite our classic English Georgian design...

I like this idea for displaying books on my dining table when not in use for its primary function,
Me living the Hamptons Life!

In fact, the whole space was a perfect example of the synergy that exists between good classical design and good architecture.  I find that in most cases beauty is beauty, and when it is expertly executed, it can work well whatever the period of backdrop or location.

I have always loved a good 'grouping' of d'objects, whether in my case it be vintage food domes, a group of paintings or Victorian kitchenalia, so it was a joy to see the beautiful groups of collections featured around the house and used as a decorative feature...

A beautiful curated display of found turtle shells.
Artwork grouped to perfection and wall light beauty!
Classic architectural details and a love of symmetry play a big part in the overall cohesive beauty of the interiors...

The beauty of symmetry on an upstairs landing.
A 'Tudor' inspired shape for the front door - I love this nod to classic interiors.

The Main reception room with it's almost 'ecclesiatical' vaulted ceiling.
...As does a very evident love of modern as well as traditionally inspired lighting...

The dining area with its cleverly grouped contemporary lighting.
This wouldn't look out of place at Hill House.
...And contemporary art...

Contemporary art against panelled walls - a good example of James Michael Howard's clever skill at mixing styles.
..Yet, always with an eye for comfort and remembering that it's a family home...

This could be a detail from Hill House - but it's not! 
Of course, no Hamptons home is complete without an ultra glamorous kitchen...

The Kitchen Island - and the best use for a kitchen island below...

A particularly favourite area of mine - The breakfast 'nook'.

...and naturally the beauty and glamour was not just confined to the interior spaces.  The outdoor living spaces were treated with  equal attention to detail...

The decked bedroom terrace.
A Perfect outdoor entertaining space for Summer OR Winter!
Now I want 'festoon' lights just like these!
It's certainly a dog's life...
Nocturnal perfection.

Above all, I came home inspired - as well as several pounds heavier, but that's a story of 'gastronomique' excess for another post...) - and buzzing with fresh ideas on how to incorporate some of these Hamptons Style elements into my interiors at home, without compromising the integrity of Hill House - which is after all, an English country house, with its own merits, beauty and identity.

One of my main aspirations is to attempt to 'streamline' whilst still maintaining my collections and love of colourful English textiles and soft furnishings - however there is a fine line between 'collection' and clutter and I fear that I must remember that!   I loved how despite the abundance of art, lighting features, books and decorative items, the house always maintained a feeling of airiness, space and light.  It felt fresh and sophisticated, but still cosy and welcoming.  Now this could be due to the basic fact that there was a lot of floor space to be enjoyed, but in truth, it owed much of it's success to the lightness of hand of its interior designer / owner, James Michael Howard, who certainly knows how to turn a luxury house into a beautiful and liveable home.

Until Next Time!



  1. I am saving this post to savor when I have more time to really read and absorb it, but just wanted to say: oh my, how lovely! And Jake: I love him, I want him!


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