“It was so depressing!” Muriel Brandolini says of the badly renovated four-bedroom guest house she acquired when she and her husband, Nuno, bought their seven-acre waterfront spread in Hampton Bays two years ago. “But when you have such an ugly structure, you should try to make a jewel out of it. I believe that when the bones of a room are not nice, the thing to do is put fabric everywhere and create a box.” Now when you enter the shingled, 96-year-old cottage, you know you’re in for fun at first sight: You’re greeted by a gleaming, Crayola-bright staircase, a chartreuse-beamed ceiling, and a fever dream of fabric-covered walls, brilliantly painted floors, and Asian accoutrements. It’s no surprise. Ever since the French-Vietnamese-Venezuelan designer opened her decorating firm in 1995, clients like Matt and Annette Lauer, Crown Prince and Princess Pavlos of Greece, and Christopher and Pia Getty have flocked to Brandolini for her signature high-bohemian-chic style – notable for an intrepid use of color and bold patterns, and a penchant for unorthodox pairings, like a modernist Albrizzi desk with a rare Chinese opium bed. Plus, Brandolini has an equally stylish entrepreneurial streak: She has designed a fabric line for six years, home furnishings for three, and a line of Eastern-influenced clothing for two. So where better to put her talents to work than in her own backyard – and who better to enjoy the result than her lucky country guests?
Brandolini’s Country Guide
Packing Tips: Before we leave the city, I stop at Citarella (1313 Third Ave., at 75th St.; 212-874-0383) and Eli’s (1411 Third Ave., at 80th St.; 212-717-8100) for supplies. Then, once we are through the gates of the property, we do not leave.
Playing Host: My favorite way to entertain is to have guests come to stay. The mood is informal. The wonderful thing is, I have the guests in their own house. They can sleep as long as they want. Nobody really shows their face until eleven o’clock.
Summer Supplies: I love Crate & Barrel (650 Madison Ave., at 59th St.; 212-308-0011). They have everything for a summer house! It’s inexpensive. It’s great design. It’s like an extension of the old Marimekko.
The Soundtrack: David Bowie, Pink Floyd, music from The Virgin Suicides, Eric Clapton.
The Menu: For me, the perfect summer meal is vitello tonnato and a wonderful salad. Plus, now we are into fishing, so we are eating the fish we catch. I hate barbecues!
For the Home: In the city, J.H. Antiques (174 Duane St.; 212-965-1443) is a fantastic dealer. For modern, Liz O’Brien (800A Fifth Ave., at 61st St.; 212-755-3800).
Hamptons Hot Spots: I love the home-furnishing store called H. Groome (9 Main St., Southampton; 631-204-0491). They sell wonderful dishes and chaises longues. A fun store to shop for clothes is Scoop Beach, in East Hampton (47 Newtown Ln.; 631-329-8080). And I will go to get my chickens at Iacono’s (106 Long Ln., East Hampton; 631-324-1107). I go for it, even in traffic!
For full coverage on designer Muriel Brandolini’s Hampton Bays cottage, see the June 24, 2002 issue of New York magazine!