has guts. That much we know. After all, she’s the one who at age 27 walked into an East London bespoke shoe shop back in 1996 and offered to make Jimmy Choo a partner in her vision of global luxury. Two multimillion-dollar private-equity deals later, Mellon bowed out of the brand she created practically from scratch to launch her eponymous label, this time entirely on her own terms, selling apparel and accessories online with the “buy now, wear now” mantra in mind. Although she sells her brand at a few online stores, Mellon has decisively declared that wholesale is not the future.
In the living room of fashion designer Tamara Mellon’s Bridgehampton, New York, home, the velvet-covered sectional sofa is by Room & Board, the pair of Milo Baughman sofa tables is from the 1960s, and the Almond Zigmund sculptures atop them are from R. E. Steele Antiques; the prints above the mantel are by Sol LeWitt, from his Star series, and the silk-and-wool rug is by Bentley.
So it’s no surprise that when she bought a gable-roof Shingle Style beach house in Bridgehampton, New York, two years ago—so her equestrienne daughter, Minty, could ride regularly at the nearby stables, and so Mellon and her boyfriend, über-agent Michael Ovitz, could entertain—she was determined to style the interiors herself. She had worked on various homes and apartments with decorators like Martyn Lawrence Bullard (who can forget the black patent curtains and 3,000-pound custom marble dining table on Million Dollar Decorators?), but this time, Mellon had a DIY plan to point and click her way through the renovation.
A vase by Cari Zalloni from Artware Editions sits atop an Eero Saarinen table from Knoll in the foyer; the wall sculpture by John McCracken was found at a Christie’s auction, the leather rug is by Barclay Butera for Nourison, and the flooring is walnut.
“I know what I like, and it’s cheaper and faster just to do it myself,” she says of the seven-bedroom house tucked behind fragrant privet hedges a few blocks from the ocean. “We all evolve over time, and for this house, I wanted a much cleaner palette.”
The Warren Platner armchairs and dining table with a custom glass top are by Knoll, and the vintage rug is by Edward Fields.
Perhaps it was the simple style of Bridgehampton’s Main Street mom-and-pop shops—local favorites like the Candy Kitchen or Bobby Van’s, where hedge fund moguls mix with potato farmers— that inspired Mellon to tone down the usual high-wattage glamour that seems to follow her into every room. “I love the way it still feels very small-town and easygoing,” she says. “I rented for a few years to get the feel of it, but I fell in love with Bridgehampton.”
Mellon in her living room.
That is not to say that Mellon was going to totally shift gears and trade in her sexy, ’70s-style aesthetic for some cozy sisal-and-duck Hamptons look. Instead, she ripped out what had already been done and spent evenings at home trolling sites like 1stdibs for collectible vintage furniture and prints.
Pendant lights by Tom Dixon hang above the marble-top kitchen island, the cabinetry is custom made, the oven and stove are by Wolf, and the walls are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Decorators White.
“The 1970s is my favorite decade for everything—clothing, interiors, architecture,” she says. “I love the clean lines, the modular sofas, and the low furniture.” Indeed, her new clothing line calls on the disco decade for much of the inspiration behind sleek tuxedo jackets, printed chiffon halter dresses, fringed lamé skirts, and suede stiletto booties.
The family room features a sofa and daybed by Poliform, a pair of Karl Springer armchairs bought on 1stdibs, and a velvet-covered ottoman by Room & Board; the large-scale print is by Bridget Riley, the pillows are by Madeline Weinrib, and the rug is by Stark.
In addition to having a great eye for design, Mellon is also a savvy businesswoman. And investing in a lot of custom upholstery that would retain little resale value was not in the cards this time around. Instead, she ordered most of the sofas and “soft furnishings” from Room & Board and mixed them with one-of-a-kind pieces that perfectly ft her groovy aesthetic. “I wanted to have a theme with the house, but with pieces that have significance,” she explains. “I didn’t want to invest in anything that becomes worthless once you move or sell the house.”
In the master bedroom, the 1970s painted bamboo cocktail table is by Gabriella Crespi, and the custom-made sofa is topped with pillows by Jonathan Adler; the prints by Ad Reinhardt were purchased at Sotheby’s, and the curtains and Roman shade are in a linen by Schumacher.
In that vein, she snapped up a series of colorful Star prints by Sol LeWitt at auction and used them to jazz up the otherwise neutral living room. Blue seems to be a favorite color: In the dining room, the graphic azure stripes on a 1970s Edward Fields rug play off the curved steel tines of two Knoll table bases pushed together. Upstairs in her bedroom, Ad Reinhardt prints and a Milo Baughman chair continue the sleek blue theme, accented by a Gabriella Crespi cocktail table.
The floor and shower stall in the master bathroom are sheathed with mosaic tiles.
The only room with any hint of a decorator’s touch is a guest bedroom, with walls covered in striped linen and paisley curtains in a matching shade of beige. But even this sudden burst of pattern gets the 1stdibs treatment, accessorized as it is with a furry lambs wool bench Mellon found on the site. “They make it very easy,” she says, “with the most amazing customer service. From ordering to crating and shipping, it is literally ‘click to buy.’”
Still, one has to ask, with a burgeoning new apparel and accessories business, how does Mellon find the time to do all this decorating? “I do it in the evening on the iPad!” she says with a laugh. “It’s fun—you don’t have anyone imposing their taste and their concepts on you.” No, that would never work for this fierce, footloose tastemaker.
The lambswool- covered bench in a guest bedroom is from Liza Sherman, and the armchair is by Room & Board; the bedside table is from Mecox Gardens, and the wallcovering, curtains, and Roman shade are in Schumacher fabrics.