Interior Designer David Netto Transformed This Once "Awful" House Into An Inviting Retreat - The Gloss Magazine
Photography From: David Netto by David Netto, published by Vendome Press.

Interior Designer David Netto Transformed This Once “Awful” House Into An Inviting Retreat

American interior designer David Netto describes how he turned an “awful house” in Amagansett, Long Island, into an inviting weekend retreat for a friend …

What I think I enjoy most about being a designer are the relationships, which is odd, because in the beginning that was the thing that bothered me so much. I hated being in a service business, having to share myself with clients who intimidated me. But I worked on that, and it turned out that people I have admired my entire life have become clients and, in many cases, friends.

The first thing I did with the owners of this house was beg them not to buy it. They have been my friends, the lady in particular, for more than 30 years, and with old friends one can get emotional. It may have been a bad business decision, but I wanted them to have the best. The bottom line was that I didn’t know if they would be up for a major project, and that’s what this was: a great site overlooking the ocean, but a big, awful house. Thinking I had succeeded in convincing them not to buy, I began referring to the dark and ponderous lower level as “coffin storage”.

In the years before this project began, I had watched my client turn herself into a savvy collector, of photography in particular. So when it came to furniture, I offered her two options: we could fill the house with comfortable things – pretty, serviceable pieces that might be good in a house used less than two months a year – or we could build a funiture collection. Believe it or not, with 8,000 square feet to fill, both ways would cost about the same, but if you’re a collector, after you decorate you’ve still got the investment.

The library features wallpaper by Tapettitalo from Finland, two Eileen Gray Transat chairs and an illuminated library table by Michael Graves bought at auction.

The first piece we bought for the house was an Edwin Lutyens Drogo table, made for us by the great architect’s granddaughter. The original was made for a kitchen, and that’s where this one is too; it serves as a chopping board. The most satisfying find was an Antoni Gaudí Siamese chair from the collection of Lee Mindel. I’ve been aware of this chair since I first saw pictures of Lee’s influential Chelsea apartment before I went to architecture school, but I never thought it would end up in one of my projects.

The downstairs den with a clinker-board ceiling.

What is the owner’s favourite thing about living here? It’s what she, her husband, and their son came for in the first place. “I love to sit and watch the changing light, looking out to the sea,” she says. The message of this house is that trust runs both ways. For me it has enormous value, because when people trust me, I wouldn’t dream of letting them down. It is the best motivation I know. 

Friendship is also a big part of this story. If, when we were housemates in grad school, I had had any idea that this person would go on to be so successful, I would have been a better listener. I’m making that up to her now, one chair at a time.

The master bedroom is light and airy and features a Wendell Castle Sizzle table.

Excerpt and photography from: David Netto by David Netto, published by Vendome Press


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