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Tour an East Hampton Home That Received a Total Refresh

“I love a home that evolves, that has a soul,” says Robert Marc, who has lived with his partner Gunnar Spaulding in the same East Hampton house for 15 years. Marc is a former eyewear designer who sold his chain of optician stories in 2014. Spaulding is the former owner of a luxury women’s shoe company. The couple, who also keep an apartment in Manhattan, enjoy a longstanding relationship with Brian Sawyer, partner at the design firm Sawyer Berson. So when it came to turning a new leaf on this retreat, Sawyer was top of mind.

“I admired his sensibility and taste level,” Marc says. “We’re all about detail and craftsmanship. He’s incredibly collaborative. The relationship was very important.”

The men settled on a plan to give the house, which was built in the 1950s, a lighter look. Matt McKay, Sawyer’s former director of interior design, led the project under Sawyer’s guidance. “We had dark floors and dark walls, and the goal was to lighten it up completely so that the house had a much better relationship to the garden,” says Sawyer.

The floors were among the first elements of the house that were renovated. “They’re made of bleached fir,” says Sawyer. “And the walls are a creamy white in hand-done plaster.”

With new carpets mostly by Sacco Carpet, the composition of the rooms changed quickly. The clients kept their own furniture, mostly vintage pieces handsomely offset against neutral backdrops. Particular to the house is the range of artworks: “We kept a number of our own pieces,” says Marc. The living room fireplace features “a bronze, mid-century [sculpture] bought at the Wyeth gallery.”

For the office, Marc chose to hang seven whimsical self-portraits of a man wearing eyeglasses. Painted in 1937 by Wougnan, they were purchased at the Eric Appel gallery in New York. In the dining room, a midcentury marble sculpture creates a “delineation between the living room and the dining room,” says Marc.

Not all of the charms of this East Hampton house are found inside. The Spaulding-Marc home is framed by a lush garden teeming with trees and flowers. In almost every room, tree branches nearly touch the windows, imbuing the interiors with a sense of the natural world. “We have sycamore trees, seventy-five years old,” says Marc. “We have sunken styrax trees, white pines, lots of grasses, hydrangea bushes. Rhododendrons are very East Hampton.” A verdant setting for a fresh take on a beloved home, it would seem.

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