A Connecticut family sought out Dan Mazzarini of BHDM Design to help create a chic but comfortable waterfront retreat
NATALIA RACHLIN / OCTOBER 6, 2016
When a Connecticut-based couple had Sunday-night dinner at American Beech restaurant in Greenport, Long Island, on the picturesque North Fork, they fell in love with the decidedly modern but beachy decor—and promptly sought out the designer behind the fresh interiors. It turned out to be the handiwork of Manhattan-based design studio BHDM Design (led by Dan Mazzarini and Brian Humphrey), and the couple connected with Mazzarini the very next day. By Wednesday, the firm was signed on to reimagine the client’s newly acquired holiday home in Orient—a scenic coastal town next door to Greenport—which they had purchased from a local architect in January of this year. “It was really a very efficient process, from beginning to end,” says Mazzarini. “We had the dream client on this one. They had seen our work and trusted us implicitly from the beginning, which is a great starting point.”
Working with his colleague Sarah Peterson, Mazzarini set out to transform the four-bedroom, four-bath house into a crisp and contemporary backdrop for the clients and their three young children to unwind both on weekends and during longer stays. While the home was in good shape, Mazzarini wanted to erase the folksier aesthetic of the previous owners. He painted the exposed pine flooring a high-gloss white, whitewashed the array of soft-hued walls or recast them in dramatic shades of charcoal, and added plenty of black and dark gray accents to create a sense of graphic contrast. “It felt like a house that had been there for a while, which was a good thing, but we wanted to reinvigorate it with a more youthful energy,” notes Mazzarini. “The white floors brought it an urban sensibility.”
But the designer also wanted to nod to the residence's prime waterfront location. Mazzarini balanced the home's clean, modern vibe with idiosyncratic nautical details, such as the wooden skeleton of a canoe used as artwork in the double-height living room. Important, too, was grounding the bright white interiors with a mix of comfy, soft furnishings and sculptural pieces. “The client, it has to be said, is just downright cool. They used to live in Brooklyn. The husband is maybe a bit more country, more buttoned-up, while the wife is definitely rock 'n' roll,” says Mazzarini. “We set out to try and find common ground that really reflects who they are.” The finished project—a mellow but intriguing space that is at once sophisticated and informal—does just that.