New York-based interior designer Vicente Wolf arranges his schedule by the seasons of the year.
In the summer, he does apartments in Manhattan. During the winter, he tackles homes in the Hamptons. “It’s great having a house in Montauk,” he says. “If I go out there on a Thursday or Friday, I go to the project first, and then to my house—it’s a visit along the way.”
He’s been practicing for more than 40 years now, designing between 25 to 30 projects in the Hamptons. His most recent is the renovation of a 2,200 square-foot house built in the 1980s on Moriches Bay in Westhampton. He did it for a New York couple for whom he’s worked on two previous projects.
“We’ve known each other for 5,000 years,” he says. “When you work with some people, you do the job and that’s it. And then some become friends—like these did.”
The couple bought their home from a builder 38 years ago, using it mostly as a weekend summer house, and spending the occasional full week there. But it was starting to show its age. “They wanted it to become contemporary,” he says. “Inside, a lot of the details spoke of a different time.”
The couple has known Wolf practically since he started out on his own. “He designed our first home in Manhattan, and we were thrilled, and when we moved to our second home 22 years ago, we loved what he did then,” she says. “So when we decided to remodel our beach home, there was no reason to look anywhere else.”
Wolf’s assignment was to make the home feel young. “It was really tired,” he says. “We wanted it to be cohesive – open and light and different from what they had.”
It was a tough assignment, the client admits, because it was closed-in and claustrophobic. “We asked him to make it open, light and bright,” she says. “And he did – I have a ton more seating now, and the dining room is opened up.”
She has a penchant for whites and off-whites. “We worked with that, and stretched it a little with taupes on the rugs, and that sets off the lightness,” the designer says.
He had the floors sanded down and stained dark, a contrast that emphasized the whites even more. He tore down walls, replacing wood beams with steel ‘I” beams, and traded black-framed windows with white ones. To make the dark staircase essentially disappear, he painted it white.
The idea was to do away with the boxiness of the 1980s-era rooms, lighten the walls and open up the vistas. “It’s much more open-looking,” the client says. “You can see in both directions now—the view is unencumbered of water and wetlands.”
Wolf deliberately removed the irrelevant. “It’s a sort of space that reads so beachy – everywhere you look you see water, and it’s very open and relaxed,” he says. “We aimed for it to be easily maintained and comfortable to be in – and very functional, which is key.”
For finishes and furnishings, Wolf looked to what he saw out of the windows – and added some Asian and midcentury modern layers. “It’s meant for you to look at it and not know when it was done,” he says. “And you’ll look at it in 10 years, and it still will have a timeless quality.”
He added furniture pieces and fabrics that he designed himself, like the coffee table and upholstery. Fabrics are indoor/outdoor material because people retreat inside, wet from the pool. “It’s always important to match the aesthetic with functionality,” he says. “Using outdoor fabrics was the best way we could to use light colors.”
A shortened “u”-shaped sofa in the living area is angled for views of the television and the outdoors as well. “It’s designed so you see the fireplace and you can watch television and look out the window,” he says. “The house is always filled with people – they have grandchildren and wanted as much seating as possible.”
Wolf had the run of the entire place while his renovation was in progress. The clients were nowhere to be seen for the whole winter, but came out when it was finished in the spring. “The first day they walked in, she said: ‘This is not my house – this is a different house,’” he says. “They were ecstatic.”
They arrived on a Friday and stayed the entire weekend with friends and family. “We love it,” the client says. “It’s a dramatic difference – like night and day.”
But in reality, it’s the newest summer project from one of Manhattan’s more gifted designers.
For more information, visit vicentewolf.com.