Alexa Hampton decorated a house in Bridgehampton, New York, for a young family. The clients bought a spec house which was decorated with taffeta curtains and you could find crystal-beaded chandeliers shining down on the bed.

Hampton said that she wonders how such a house was appointed for sale and who had the grand idea that an urban couple would find such a monstrosity attractive. However, if you look beyond those things, the spec house had a few good moments. There was a glimmer of hope underneath all of that glitter.

The good moments of the house are its great floor plan with an amazing sense for flow and proportion, the dark floors, good light, and beautiful views. Even with these, the designer still had some work to do. She changed the wallcoverings in some rooms, the decorations in others, all in all, she made this house beautiful. So, let’s see how she did it.

The bedrooms upstairs have white carpeting, white walls and ceilings. Hampton had to work a lot harder to bring these rooms to life. So, dark mahogany legs on the furniture and details such as the hardware, studs, and small tables were used to add contrast.

In the dining room there was room left for embroidered linen wallcoverings from the wainscoting, there is a mess of blue-and-white Chinese jars under a sideboard, and the sheer curtains were updated with a simple thin blue stripe.

The mantelpieces were replaced with new ones that were in a more respectful scale, the offending niche was covered, and she pulled back on the overly fussy molding details in the kitchen.

Hampton designed a pair of bookcases for the living room, but since she couldn’t change the floor plan of the house, she arranged the sofa so it would turn its back to the kitchen. Sometimes it’s all you can do, and not every house can be perfect.

She really doesn’t like it when a kitchen opens into a living room. Still, she didn’t settle and, in fact, she was being realistic. She doesn’t try to be original just for the sake of being so. Everything should have a purpose and intention.

The entrance hall was too rectangular and linear, and that needed to be tamed. To do so, geometrical shapes echo all across the room, a grid on the carpet, circles on the console, and diamonds on the chandelier.

Everything looks and feels effortless, but if you were to ask Hampton, they were anything but. The different shapes give the rooms extra layers.