Interior designer Sara Oswalt was in for a challenge when it came to the extensive overhaul of a 1960s East Hampton home. The clients, who now have two children, underwent an intense remodel but were left puzzled when it came to designing the sprawling property.
“When I came in, he had bought a lot of designer pieces, either vintage or consignment, but they were not in the best shape,” Oswalt recalls. “The house still looked empty, the rugs didn’t fit the space, and it ended up being more work than we thought.”
The clients were unsure of the creative direction. It was challenging to ensure the home felt cohesive, have touches of beachy without being cliché, and appropriate within its midcentury architecture.
With five bedrooms, five bathrooms, and a pool house, Oswalt understands why they initially struggled. “They felt overwhelmed,” she notes.
The original walls, all painted varying shades of blue, read cold and out of place, so the goal was to warm up the house with fabrics, natural textures, and colors. Varying pieces like a Broyhill dresser, which the couple already owned, acted as a jumping-off point, as well as Scandinavian and Japanese influences.
“I fell in love with the Danish brand Asplund and got several things from there, including the bar with leather handles in the dining room, consoles in the bedroom, and cocktail table,” she says.
For the great room, which joins the two wings of the home, she wanted to make sure there were enough seating options and visual interest without feeling overfilled. The biggest design difficulty there was finding a large enough sectional. Furthermore, Oswalt hoped to find a colored sofa, but blue was out of the question, as it could read too nautical.
“We saw this Moroso sofa with a bunch of colored pillows on it and ultimately landed on pink,” she says. “It was actually the husband that chose it—not his wife,” she adds.
While pink may at first seem like an odd choice, this particular pink reads as a neutral, and is a match amid two woven Palecek chairs and a vintage Caprani lamp.
Furthermore, Oswalt included many other vintage pieces, like a Saarinen tulip side table, dining chairs, and vintage chairs in the pool house. She paired these with less costly finds from Etsy, Serena & Lily, and Anthropologie. She even added four watercolor collages in the reading room painted by her sister, artist Claire Oswalt.
Overall, the scale and educational factor of this project was a joy for the designer. “I learned a lot through working with people and choosing furniture,” she says. “We learn to trust in one another, and I’ve gotten to work with them again actually on a project in Cobble Hill, New York.”