Home Design

“How Intelligent Interior Design Rescued This Home”

A young New York City couple decided they wanted a beach home on Fire Island, a little spit of land off the southern shore of Long Island where he had spent his summers as a youngster, around five years ago. She is a real estate executive and he is a bond trader. They discovered a 1950s-era timber cottage with unremarkable architecture, whose best feature was its vantage point high over the water. Its 1,400 square feet seemed insufficient for a couple raising two young boys. They purchased it with the intention of making substantial alterations and, if necessary, pulling it down and building something new.

The couple didn’t have to spend time looking for someone they could trust to take on the large job. Alexandra Angle and the wife had become close throughout their time together at Connecticut’s Wesleyan University and even after she graduated. The couple had delightedly recruited Angle, who had gone on to become a prominent interior designer, to design their residences in Manhattan and upstate New York. It made perfect sense to ask her to remodel their Fire Island house.


In February 2010, the couple paid cash for the home. The next phase, they believed, would be a comprehensive refurbishment or a deconstruction, so they requested Angle to make it habitable for the summer so they could benefit from the forthcoming beach season. But no further action was taken. The family granted their old home an extended reprieve since they were so happy with Angle’s modifications.
It was difficult to make the home ready for summer in only three months while avoiding spending a lot of money on what was only intended to be a temporary remedy. “Everything was just really basic,” recalls Angle. They wanted it to be quite informal, simple, and understated.

The once-drab home was transformed into a visual feast by Angle, who employed color as her not-so-secret weapon and strategically deployed it on her canvas of white walls and ceilings. The vibrant khili feather standards she observed when visiting the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Honolulu served as her inspiration.

Floor to ceiling windows in the main living space provide a grand ocean vista. Angle replaced the built-in banquettes around the room’s perimeter with Liberty fabric, purchasing rolls of additional material in anticipation of the inevitable need to replace the cushions due to beach homes’ high rate of wear and tear.

With chairs from K√§llemo and a floor light from Flos that mirrors the lines of the chairs, Angle gave the piano, a relic from the home’s former owners, a new look. A bar, a customized version of one Angle developed and makes, hangs over the piano like a medicine box. For cold, rainy days, a wood-burning stove designed by Antonio Citterio and Toan Nguyen is a must, and a Tropicalia Cocoon swinging nest chair created by Patricia Urquiola for Moroso provides a quirky touch. Angle said, “The kids adore it.”

Angle made no significant changes to the kitchen; instead, she simply took out all the cabinet doors, painted the inside a shocking red, and installed a new refrigerator, stove, and countertop. For the flooring throughout the house, she went with Armstrong linoleum, a sensible and affordable option for a seaside property. The orange and white striped pattern of the kitchen’s tiles is installed.

Bertoia seats surround a Kartell table in the dining room, which is decorated in stark white. There is just one piece of art on the wall, a print by Dutch photographer Leo de Goede.
The color theme continues in the dim hallway that Angle lightened by painting the entrances to each of the four bedrooms a hue that blends in with the color scheme of the space beyond. The bedrooms are all simply decorated and primarily white, with pops of color added by colorful bedding, accessories, and lighting. The boys’ sleeping and playing quarters are in the same room.
The bathrooms required the greatest maintenance because of the outdated fixtures and rusty water stains they had. Angle relocated walls and fitted new fixtures while preserving the plumbing that was already there. The linoleum flooring in both bathrooms now have striking stripes.

The home still looks as nice as it did when Angle built it five years ago, demonstrating how much the family enjoys their seaside getaway. The original plan could have called for an overhaul, but that doesn’t appear likely now.