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Light & Lovely: How to achieve the Hamptons look for your home

Top tips on how to achieve the grand, Hamptons-inspired look for your home and interior

Recently I visited The Hamptons on a media trip, as a guest of Scyon Walls. The trip was curated to show members of the Australian media and building industries just what the popular Hamptons look really is and how to achieve it.

If you’re a fan and follower of architecture and interiors, you’ll have noticed that The Hamptons look is very popular in Australia; and rightly so as we have the perfect weather and geographic locations for this seaside-inspired style. But according to Australian builder and designer, Natalee Bowen from Indah Island, who specialises in Hamptons style houses and interiors, “Hamptons can be such an over-used cliché in Australia. However, the real look is in how you bring it all together.”

The Hamptons is a coastal community on the south shore of Long Island, New York frequented by Manhattan’s elite, who, since the nineteenth century, have owned weekenders or summer houses in the area where they retreat to escape the heat of the city. The location features many grand houses, often hidden from view behind wide sand dunes and high hedges. Residents fiercely guard their privacy in this elite enclave and it’s not so easy to see the houses from the road. We were however, given access to several homes where we could experience the architecture and interiors up close. We also had the bonus of hearing from local architect, author and historian, Gary Lawrance who took us through several historic homes, explaining the origin and development of the style and the choice of materials used in their construction.

In contrast to Coastal style, which has a more casual vibe, the Hamptons has a classic and formal yet relaxed look. Its architecture is characterised by mostly white or weathered grey exteriors, horizontal timber cladding or shingles, gables and lots of details such as porches, balconies, balustrades and mouldings. But to define a single Hamptons look would be difficult as I found many examples of architectural styles including Colonial Revival, Arts and Crafts, neo Georgian to very contemporary designs.

The Hamptons style of home we know in Australia fits easily into our coastal landscape. The wide verandas provide shade from the summer sun while French doors and porches are perfect for outdoor entertaining. Interiors are light and bright with high ceilings and mostly neutral colour schemes, often set off against duck-egg blue or navy-coloured furnishings and accessories. Black Japan floors, black handrails and hardware contrast with brilliant white walls, balustrades and joinery; bleached oak or light timber floors can also be used effectively. Carpets or rugs are of natural fibres in neutral tones and kitchens feature white joinery with classic mouldings and honed white marble benchtops; splashbacks and bathrooms feature subway tiles or penny rounds in ceramic or marble finishes. Blue or grey painted cabinetry and joinery is an alternative to all white, and works well in coastal homes, reflecting the colours of the ocean.

The defining element for an Australian version of the Hamptons house seems to be the popularity of vertical cladding, traditionally made of timber. Scyon Linea cladding is a low maintenance and hard-wearing cement composite weatherboard alternative, with deep shadow lines, perfect for the Hamptons look. The material will maintain its integrity and general appearance significantly longer than timber and when used with the right insulation and in accordance with the standard installation instructions, an R-Value of up to 2.8 can be achieved for the wall with greater total R-Values achieved using cavity wall construction and reflective vapour permeable membranes. Additional benefits include resistance to damage from termites, rot and fire. It can also be gun nailed and, like timber, is easy to cut.

Whether building a new house or renovating an existing property – such as Natalee’s home – it’s easy to achieve the Hamptons look, if you consult an expert who is confident with this style and who can turn your vision of a light, bright Hamptons-inspired home from a dream to reality.