When interior designer Allison Babcock set her sights on her own new waterfront home, she relished the chance to sit at both sides of the worktable, as client and designer.
“It was exciting and intimidating,” says Babcock, principal of Allison Babcock Design in Sag Harbor, New York. Like so many homeowners, she had a timeline, a budget, and many ideas from her family to sift through. But thanks to her intuitive sense of design and how it relates to architecture, she and her family love the house and its potential to evolve over time.
Overlooking Morris Cove in the Hamptons, Babcock’s home reflects the easy livability of the interiors that she designs for her clients, with a focus on comfort and color palettes that jibe with the tremendous views. The mix of vintage and new furnishings, artworks, enticing colors and fabrics, and abundant ocean views, bathed in soft sunlight and shadows, is perfectly at ease.
Inner reflection has long been a springboard for Babcock. “I started by osmosis,” she says. Growing up in Charlottesville, Virginia, surrounded by the influence of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and other classic architecture, she felt a spark early on. “As a girl I was constantly rearranging my room,” she says. She eventually worked with the Richmond, Virginia, designer Nan McVey, and thoroughly learned her craft with Cullman & Kravis in New York City.
Reflections of her rich background pop up throughout Babcock’s home, which she shares with husband Luke and their two teenage daughters. In the first-floor open living area is a striking vignette of a 1960s teak console, 1970s cork lamp, and a painting by the Vietnamese artist Le Than Son, all topped by a whimsical chandelier from Moooi Lighting. More soft sunlight spills from the adjoining French doors, where lush ferns provide their own deep color. On the other side of the house are views of Morris Cove, part of Upper Sag Harbor Cove.
“I migrate toward more transitional and minimalist; cleaner lines and fewer things,” Babcock says of her philosophy. “We’re bombarded with messages all day long. I like the home to be quiet and restful.” She has long been attracted to barns and small farmhouses: the coziness, simplicity, and lack of pretense.
Her own home, designed in collaboration with the architect Blaze Makoid of nearby Bridgehampton, along with local builder Greg D’Angelo, is a modern take on a barn, with three rectangular structures topped by a pitched roof and centered with a courtyard. The house is a fit with the Hamptons’ laid-back mood and outdoor lifestyle. “I really appreciate natural light, bringing the outdoors inside,” Babcock says. In fact, she and her family rarely need to turn on lights during the daytime.
One prime gathering spot on the first floor is the kitchen, with an island and countertops of Jet Mist Granite with a honed finish. A divider separates the kitchen from the dining room and cunningly hides any kitchen mess. It also serves as a niche for cookbooks. Curtainless windows shed just the right amount of light. Throughout the house, white oak flooring and cabinetry, and walls painted in Calm by Benjamin Moore, create a tranquil background.
The adjoining dining room is anchored with a table by Rotsen Design in Miami. The table’s single walnut slab sits on an acrylic base, appearing to float. When the Babcocks have a party, the chairs, from the online marketplace 1stDibs, are easily moved. Upstairs, two bedrooms and Babcock’s office are tucked off a hallway lined with family photos.
The yard is filled with low-maintenance plantings, including evergreens, ferns, boxwood, and Japanese switchgrass. Sweet box shrubs scent the air in springtime. Separating the front of the house from the backyard and the pool is a slatted gate that casts bands of light and shadows.
Indoors and out, Babcock mostly wanted her family’s Sag Harbor home to be welcoming. “We live a very active life,” she says. “I needed the house to be low maintenance, clean looking, and relaxed, without it being a lot of work. I don’t believe in things being absolutely perfect. That would be very hard to live with.”
For more information, visit allisonbabcock.com