Epic guide to designing a spectacular Hamptons kitchen
We know it’s classy, it’s a bit coastal, it’s white and fresh and it’s a popular classic style that doesn’t seem to date.
But that’s true of many styles.
What is it that makes a Hamptons kitchen truly spectacular? What is the Hamptons aesthetic? What particular items should be used in an authentic Hamptons kitchen design?
I’m going to give you my view, as an Australian. Let’s dive into it.
Hamptons is a style I keep hearing about over, and over again. It’s a fashionable term that gets thrown around a lot like French Provincial did about 10 years ago.
It’s used so frequently that the real style sometimes gets botched up. Marketers are using it willy nilly to sell all sorts of homes and homewares.
I’ve been looking at so many stunning photos of Hamptons style interiors. It got me thinking, does everyone really understand what it is? I’m sure most people would have a fair idea, but I’m going to delve deep and give you an epic guide to designing a Hamptons kitchen.
Or, you could just download my checklist which has all the items you need to create a Hamptons Style kitchen. You could go ahead and print it out then mark off all the items you already have, plus get ideas for other things you haven’t thought of. It’s a handy checklist that will really help you with your project planning.
WHERE EXACTLY IS THE HAMPTONS AND WHY'S THE STYLE SO POPULAR?
It’s in the state of New York, U.S.A. A seaside holiday location for the rich and famous, where many also live. Actually it has the most expensive, luxurious homes in the U.S. The 2016 median house property sales were $8.5 million!
The Hamptons is well known for it’s many affluent residences in the Long Island group of villages. You can understand why we look to this place for style inspiration. It’s something we all long to have, sophisticated taste in our own homes (c'mon, you've got to admit that).
Homes in the Hamptons are near the beach, and many Australian homes are near the beach (what a coincidence!). It’s another reason why we’ve adopted this style.
It just works so well with our lifestyle of being outdoors, to enjoy a BBQ, play cricket, or lounge by the pool.
A big feature of Hamptons homes are the spacious indoor rooms that open out onto outdoor rooms, quite effortlessly. The outdoor “rooms” are used just as easily as any indoor room. Meaning, they're set up with dining tables and comfy seating, just like the inside. All to make full use of the wonderful weather and scenery.
So to sum it up, it’s an upmarket traditional American design style with a casual, coastal vibe.
HOW THE HAMPTONS BEGAN
Before trains started bringing people from New York City for the holidays, fishing and farming communities originally settled in the Hamptons. They had strong family and trade links to New England, which is a region nearby thats got a very distinct design style. The home designs in Cape Cod particularly had an influence, it’s New England style with a coastal vibe. This is where the American “traditional” style derives from, in the Hamptons.
NEW ENGLAND STYLE
When I first heard of this style, I thought it was literally a “new England style”. As in, the English style made new again by re-inventing it in America.
After a bit of research I realised it’s actually a geographical region comprising of six states in the U.S. (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont). Therefore it’s a style that originated and was made famous in that area.
The colonial settlers in New England were influenced by English architecture (surprise, surprise), and most of them were also Puritan. The English style mostly came from classical Greek design and this was mixed with Puritan thrift.
These were a no-frills and frugal kind of people. Colonists had to be at the time, to survive. Apparently they were well known for being good at using their money wisely. When they bought things it was only once in a lifetime and it was excellent quality. This aesthetic is evident in their home designs and decoration.
This traditional, colonial style of architecture and design has been revived over and over again throughout American history. It’s largely because those Georgian colonial homes in New England remind them of their Independance and they’re very proud of it.
It’s also a sign of wealth and good taste to have period features in their homes. And good on them.
In a Hamptons kitchen design, the moulding and millwork details are very important. As well as some other architectural elements of the home.
I’m talking about New England style cornices, skirting boards, architraves, corbels, brackets, columns, pilasters, beadboard wall panels or wainscoting, coffered ceilings, broken pediments over doors, large windows with lots of small panes of glass.
There’s no need to go overboard on all of these things, it needs only to be an embellishment. And of course, all the woodwork is painted white.
If you’re not sure about the mouldings, a designer like me could draw up something that suits your tastes and the style of your home. There always needs to be a balance between traditional and contemporary elements so it’s functional for modern day living. A kitchen designer will also give you drawings so you don’t have to try to imagine what it will look like, and cross your fingers that it will work.
FACE FRAME CABINETS
Americans love to use a traditional style of construction for their cabinetry. They call them face frame cabinets.
If you look closely at some of these kitchen photos you can see a frame around each door and drawer. It gives it a more authentic look but you actually loose a bit of cupboard space because of it.
I haven’t come across a cabinetmaker in Australia that uses this system.
We use what they call the “European” frameless system, or system 32. Where the cabinet “box” has a row of holes on the inside that are 32mm apart. This system works really well with Blum or Hettich hardware and also allows for the shelving to be easily adjustable, using pin supports.
We started using this system in the 80’s when the plastic edging was invented for MDF and Particleboard products. The face frame was no longer needed to cover the raw edges of the boards, therefore we changed to “frameless”.
The door profile to use for the Hamptons style is, of course, Shaker. It’s a simple square design that looks like a frame with a recessed flat panel. It's traditional name is "stile and rail" because it refers to a woodworking technique. These days it's usually made from machined MDF.
Glass doors with a frame are a nice feature. I’ve also noticed a colonial cross theme on glass doors, or to decorate the sides of an island and on applied panels.
These doors are normally coated in two pack paint, or for a product that doesn’t chip, use vinyl. Unfortunately vinyl has a bad reputation for peeling off in hot and humid conditions, but if installed correctly it will look great for many years.
"WHICH WHITE SHOULD I USE? THERE ARE SO MANY"
I get asked this all the time. My answer is match your joinery to your skirting boards and architraves, if you can.
A clean crisp white like Dulux Vivid white, or Lexicon quarter strength is popular. For a slightly warmer white, use Dulux Natural White.
A new colour that I’ve enjoyed using this year is Ghostgum from Laminex. I find it’s the perfect white in many situations because it has a slight warm grey undertone. It goes so well with natural white marbles and other white stones on the market at the moment.
Use a satin or matt finish, I don’t think gloss is quite right for this style.
Remember that you want a kitchen that's a stunning space to live in and looks like a piece of beautiful furniture. Appliances aren’t always beautiful, so use a butlers pantry to house the smaller appliances and hide larger appliances behind doors.
Fridges and rangehoods are mostly hidden behind joinery. The exhaust often fitted inside a chimney piece that also becomes the main focal point of the room. A large gas cooker under it, fits perfectly with the scale.
Use ornate, antique style tapware, with a white butlers sink, if you like.
BENCHTOP & SPLASHBACK
Use Carrara or Calacatta marble benchtops and splashbacks throughout. If you wish to use a contrasting colour on a benchtop, use honed black soapstone. Keep the edge treatments simple and square, at 30- 40mm thick.
Use a subway or herringbone pattern with the splashback tiles. If you wish to make the splashback a feature, do it with an interesting texture, not with a vivid colour. In other words, use white or a soft sea coloured ceramic or glass, or white and grey marble.
TRADITIONAL LIGHTING & HARDWARE FITTINGS
Three huge pendant lights over the island. I know this has been done to death, but it’s because it really works with grand high ceilings and the scale of a big central island (if that’s what you’re having). Another option is one that's long and rectangular, like this one...
Choose something that’s white or clear glass with black iron or shiny pewter. Top marks if you match the finish with your door hardware and maybe even the tapware too.
Use vintage style handles, shell pulls and little knobs.
Use vintage nautical or a lantern style light fittings.
Bell Jar Lanterns are classic Hamptons style. They have their origins in 19th century England and America and were used mostly in foyers and entrance halls of great Georgian manors.
Before electricity, candles were lit when guests were expected to arrive and the glass bell jar protected the candles from being blown out when the doors opened. The glass cap at the top of the lantern stopped the candle smoke from damaging walls and ceilings.
They are very popular in American colonial style homes and there are many different modern interpretations.
The New England colonies focused on fishing and shipbuilding because they had poor soil and poor farm produce. This stimulated several maritime side businesses, such as hemp rope making and iron for anchors.
This is why there’s often nautical influences in New England design. They also developed a distinct seafood cuisine, such as clam chowder and the clam bake.
Weather boarding was originally used to withstand the storms coming off the Atlantic sea and is a feature of Cape Cod homes.
Shiplap and beadboard wall paneling could be used on interior walls and ceilings too. They provide smooth horizontal lines as a design element in the room. Which is useful for making a wall feel longer, or simply creating interest on a bare wall. This kitchen makes use of it around their island bench, genius!
Cape Cod homes also have a high pitched roof line. Exposing the trusses and having an airy cathedral ceiling is a fantastic way to inject a Hamptons aesthetic.
New England folk are excellent collectors. Living or holidaying by the beach, no wonder they display collections of nautical and beachy paraphernalia in their homes.
They have bowls of collected seashells, coral, driftwood, rope, sea glass and other interesting finds from the beach. They collect woven baskets and put them up on shelves to display them.
They collect experiences and love be reminded of their adventures. Their homes are filled with family photos, books, art and the miscellanea of living.
They also love the finer accessories of silver and pretty blue and white china, hydrangeas and orchids, and perhaps some antique pots or glazed urns with Golden Cane Palm or Fiddle leaf Fig plants.
My tip is to focus more on the more casual beach elements for Hamptons styling and don’t overdo it with too much of a nautical theme. Don’t go crazy on the boats, flags and anchors!
...Unless you’re going for a yachtsman preppy vibe. In that case, use strong blues, such as navy, with a crisp white - it’s very Ralph Lauren.
A relaxed, beachy, sophisticated vibe needs to feature softer blue/greens, greys and off-whites. Use natural, slightly raw materials such as wood, sisal, jute, rattan, wicker, linen.
Use them for rugs, window treatments, furniture, light fittings, whatever you like but be sparing because the main colour palette is white.
The eclectic accessory collections should be balanced with plainer contemporary furniture with plain linen chair covers. There should be elegant but comfortable furniture. Perhaps use natural wicker furniture or a hand painted white finish.
Use soft blue and white stripes on upholstery, if you need to add something patterned.
Another idea is Thonet bentwood bar stools or cross back stools, colonial style.
The large mullioned windows should be minimally covered, if not at all.
Don’t use a standard blockout roller blind, it won’t have enough character and charm.
Roller blinds could be made from Bamboo, Reeds, Abaca or jute. Roman blinds are a nice idea too, very Georgian. White plantation shutters or soft breezy curtains also fit in with this style.
Dark wooden floors are a popular choice in the Hamptons, in favour of lighter oak because it works better with the predominantly white colour scheme. It contrasts nicely against all the white walls and furniture.
Lighter Oak or rustic wide-planked floors that have a slightly beaten up or weathered finish is nice for a more relaxed holiday feel.
In Australia, and probably around the world too, we have a romantic view of what the interiors of homes in the Hamptons look like. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s something quite different in reality, but still luxurious. I would love to go there myself to find out. I’ve heard there’s shingled houses with high pitched roofs and big gardens with the American flag on a pole, proudly waving about. Hmm, what is that smell... clam chowder?
I’m guessing the people that live there call this Cape Cod or Coastal Traditional style. Anyhow, to Australian’s it’s “Hamptons style”. Which ultimately means true elegance and beauty, while at the same being totally relaxed and comfortable.
Print out this free checklist to put these ideas into action for your own kitchen.
Oh, and one last thing. For more inspiration why not immerse your self in the TV world of Hamptons style. The set designs and filming on these shows are amazing, check these out, I've seen them all.
Revenge - I'd be surprised if you haven't heard of this one
Something's Gotta Give - you’ve got to press pause when they show the kitchen! Have a good look at it, it’s perfect.
Billions - although they never actually go inside the house (or should I say mansion!) it’s a great show and worth the watch.
Sabrina (both the original and the remake) - The interior design is a bit over the top but you get a really good sense of the lifestyle in the Hamptons. I love how it begins with a narration by Sabrina Fairchild... “Once upon a time on the North Shore of Long Island, some 30 miles from New York, there lived a small girl on a large estate,”
The Money Pit - I loved this movie when I was a kid. It’s not exactly realistic but I’ve since realised the home that they renovate is in the Hamptons.