Step one of any successful decorating project, according to Sandra Nunnerley, whom Architectural Digest has named to its AD 100 list multiple times, most recently in 2015, is to make sure a home has good bones. In the case of an 11-year-old, 8,000-square-foot, shingled Southampton beach house, the place had osteoporosis. “It was an absolute disaster,” says New Zealand-born Nunnerley, who teamed with architect Mark Ferguson of Ferguson & Shamamian and his senior associate Scott Sottile on the wholesale redo, their third collaboration for the clients, a Manhattan couple with two teenage children. “It’s been tweaked, big-time,” says Nunnerley. “The entire inside was gutted.”
Removing a kitchen wall opened up the first floor, letting in both northern and southern light. Doorways were widened. Operable double-hung windows replaced fixed, single-pane, storefront-style picture windows. The front staircase, originally an irregular polygon shape, was reconfigured into a more gracious, classical entry. “The stair hall is now a room,” says Ferguson. “Now you come to the front door and feel like you’ve actually arrived somewhere.”
With new and improved bones bolstering the home, Nunnerley and her design team, led by senior designer Jason Fischer, could finally get to work. Nunnerley had just returned from Bali and Java, where she’d purchased hand-dyed batik fabrics that were then made into orange pillows. These and other Balinese textiles became her inspiration for the palette of the home. (“I said to the clients, ‘You’re lucky that you didn’t get me when I got back from India, because I’d want everybody to sit on cushions on the floor.’”) In the living room, the pillows adorn oversize custom sofas, bringing attention to an intricate yet relaxing interplay of design details in the space; a vintage printed throw, also from Bali, covers an oversize leather ottoman. A series of Berber rugs used in tents were sewn together to create a large striped rug.
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