The Irish Woman Designing Spectacular Homes in the Hamptons

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On Long Island, it’s all talk of Montauk. The once sleepy hamlet has gone from off-the-radar to off-the-scale hot, thanks not just to major investment from billionaire Marc Rowan, but also to a slew of super-chic new beach houses springing up along the wild east end peninsula.

Front and centre among these million-dollar homes are Stelle Lomont Rouhani Architects, where Bolton Street graduate Eleanor Donnelly began working over 20 years ago. Moving to New York after graduation in 1996, the Goatstown native enjoyed a short spell at a small New York City architecture firm, before landing a dream job with Fred Stelle, the celebrated Hamptons’ architect. Working at his studio for over 20 years, Stelle became Stelle Lomont Rouhani in 2012, with Eleanor making partner in 2018.

Discreet about their high-profile clients, those who have gone on record about their SLR properties include Calvin Klein and Michael Kors. Donnelly’s recent work includes a striking East Hampton beach house for Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness.

Donnelly, 46, is the second of seven children, born to parents Elizabeth and Martin Donnelly – an artistic stay-at-home mum, and an architect, whose work always interested her. Heading up SLR’s interior design practice for the last six years, Donnelly’s transition to interior architecture proved a very organic one.

“We work, for the most part, on high-end modern residential work. I was never all that excited about doing large-scale technical sections,” she realised, prefering to work on the interior details of materials, colours, textures and lighting, figuring out how each space will be used. Favouring new builds, where the architecture and interiors are considered holistically, she thrives on the collective efforts of a full team working together. “A successful project is one that ends up expressing the style of the client, respecting and celebrating the architecture. My job is to allow clients to have a voice at the table and have their design sense layered into the project.”

A modernist at heart, she has the luxury of working only on modern projects. Drawn to mid-century furniture, she loves vintage pieces from this period and collaborating on custom furniture, too. “I’m very fortunate that clients prioritise this and don’t just buy an off-the-rack table. When you are creating and curating a space, every item is important and should have meaning.” She enjoys when a client has art or collections that “add a layer” to the interior.

One of Donnelly’s projects in the Hamptons, where she is partner at Stelle Lomont Rouhani Architects.

Mako by SLR Architects, Photo by Matthew Carbone

Much of the studio’s work is local to their office on Long Island, but Donnelly spends one day a week in New York City, which she finds immensely energising. “New York is an amazing city. It is fast moving, though it’s not for everyone. I love it. I go because I have a couple of big-scale projects going on there but also because I need to stay current and keep on top of things that are happening.”

Living in Montauk with her American husband and their two young sons, she returns regularly to Ireland, and draws inspiration from the scenery and design scene here. “Our approach is collaborative. I learn something on every project we finish. Fred Stelle says that you ‘practice’ architecture for a reason: ours is that we are always trying to improve.”
Jilian Bolger

www2.stelleco.com. 

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