By Homes Editor Ellen McGauley
Travel far and wide (or even near and dear), and your home is set to reap the rewards. That interior design tenet rings true so often—netting keepsake riches from shores, shops, and artists the world over—and it’s one reason I haven’t been able to get this beautifully curated beach retreat out of my head.
Architect Mark Zeff designed this house in East Hampton as a getaway for his wife and two children, and I was struck not only by his modern interpretation of coastal architecture (I love the wide-open spaces, the polished concrete floors, the broad paneled walls), but check out his original salutes to life by the sea.
Mark and his wife artfully dot the house with shore artifacts—I feel like every room is layered with a glimpse of ocean life from centuries and decades past. In the entry hall, for example, are skis made in Brooklyn in the 1940s, oars from the 1930s, and the wood decoy is from an old Montauk fishing boat.
Bring on West Coast funk: this surfboard lighting up the corner of the living room hails from California, circa 1950s. The broad-planked pine paneling is treated with a black painted wash.
In another corner of the living room is a whalebone Zeff found in a store in St. Barth’s, a net from a local Hamptons outdoor market, and a spotlight picked up in England.
I love how nature itself rightly plays a starring role in Zeffs’ nods to coastal culture. In the study hangs a collection of watercolor prints—featuring a number of vivid sea creatures—from an eastern European naturalist from the 1860s, Ernst Haeckel.
The blanket in the master bedroom is Zeff’s design. (Love it? Look for it in the new shop Zeff is opening in the fall of 2015, named Blackbarn. Details below.)
Zeff’s coastal collections are often nestled amidst larger compilations of curiosities from the couple’s travels. Here, an aquatic diorama (far left) by Christopher Tennant, art from a trip to Cape Town, South Africa, and seashells and coral picked up all over the world. “I have a habit of bringing back found objects from every beach I go too,” says Zeff.
BLACKBARN SHOP WILL OPEN in late 2015 at 329 3rd Avenue in Brooklyn.