Almira fell in love with the Hamptons look when she lived in New York with her finance-executive husband Brad for three years during the mid-aughts. They would visit the glittering coastal enclaves of Montauk and the Hamptons and gush over the character-filled abodes with grand gables, shingled roofs and white picket fences.
“We always knew, if we had the opportunity to build, that would be the style of home we would create,” says the stay-at-home mum.
Fast-forward to 2019, when Tasmanian-born Almira, Brad and their two children, Imani and Will (now 10 and eight), moved into their own Hamptons-inspired retreat nestled into the Melbourne bayside suburb of Highett.
The two-storey new construction sits on a quiet street lined with Californian bungalows and charming weatherboards. For Almira and Brad, it was important that their house complemented the streetscape and radiated understated coastal Hamptons chic.
Creating their dream home from scratch gave them the opportunity to do it their own way. “I think, regardless of whether you go with a modern Australian interpretation or keep it traditional, it’s a timeless style of build with striking street appeal,” says Almira.
The couple worked with boutique building and design company Thomas Archer, selecting a model floor plan and tweaking it to suit their 615m2 block, local council requirements and the needs of their growing family. “The priority was having zoned living,” says Almira, explaining the value they place on open spaces designated for togetherness balanced by private, separate areas for quiet moments.
Excitement levels peaked when choosing the hard finishes and fittings with Aimee Tarulli, a Thomas Archer interior designer. Drawing on Almira’s mass of inspiration images and her memories of the beachy homes on America’s east coast, they crafted a scheme of soft greys and textured dark timber flooring paired with fresh marble and white trims. The union of grey and white begins on the exterior, where James Hardie cladding is finished in Dulux Endless Dusk, contrasted by trims and a fence in Dulux Lexicon Half.
Custom joinery with a Shaker profile, detailed fireplace mantles and statement lighting add classic flourishes. “The cabinetry and finishes encapsulate that Hamptons feel, but it’s not overly ornate,” says Aimee. “It’s streamlined with a contemporary flavour, which allows the family to grow into the home and add their styling touches.”
The finishes offer a versatile foundation for decoration, which Almira has enjoyed doing slowly over time. “We’ve opted to go with blue accents throughout, but if we want to change it to a more neutral palette, we can easily do that,” she says. “It’s a work in progress but it works well for us and how we live in it now.”
On a winter’s day, you’ll find the family and their 18-year-old cat, Bella, gathered by the fire in the main living area, soaking up the undeniably cosy ambience. Comfortable living is an essential characteristic of a Hamptons home, in which soothing tones, feel-good materials and natural light combine to create interiors that draw you in and embrace you.
“That’s probably one of the things I love the most about the home – the warmth and its homely feel,” says Almira. “They say, ‘There’s no place like home’, and we get that. Stepping into our house after being away, I feel a sense of calm and it’s just beautiful.”
“A soft palette enables flexibility,” says Aimee. “As tastes change or new pieces are acquired, the space is easy to customise.”
“The Australian take on The Hamptons is more understated but no less beautiful and striking,” says Almira. Aimee agrees. “Getting the light, bright palette right was important in creating that calming feeling,” she says.
Builder and design: Thomas Archer, (03) 9999 5967, thomasarcher.com.au.
Window coverings: Victory Curtains and Blinds, 131 399, victoryblinds.com.au.
Lighting: The Montauk Lighting Co., (08) 9380 6239, montauklightingco.com.