The Rosewood Homes team visited the Hamptons to gain some insider knowledge and further develop their offering of classic American-style home designs

By Adam Krajc

As detailed in an earlier article, the Rosewood Homes team has had great success translating the Hamptons style of home into the Australian market.

Gina Krajc (Rosewood’s Creative Director and my wife) was early to identify the Hamptons design style as a trend that had great potential in the local market.

We launched the ‘Liana’ design in 2015 when we started developing a two-storey home for our own family and our customers have loved the look. The Liana is now one of our most popular designs.

Further to its popularity we also established a more classic Hamptons look with the Aspen to serve the market for smaller sites. It is a style that is suitable for most Sydney streetscapes while still ensuring its own eye catching identity.

It seemed only natural to take the idea further and organise a field trip for senior team members, so we could understand the style better and take a deeper look at how to adapt it for Australia.

After a (very long) flight, we arrived in New York and, equipped with a hire car, a new DSLR camera, Google Maps on our iPhones, and our increasingly exaggerated Aussie accents (the Americans love it) we were ready to explore the Hamptons.

We headed east out of Manhattan and drove the length of Long Island to the eastern most point, Montauk, where we based ourselves for the week.

First impressions

It was the height of summer, which saw the region coloured in a lush green of well-manicured lawns, shaped hedges, mature trees and well pampered landscaping. The predominant greenery of established hedges and trees was contrasted with white pebble driveways that repeatedly led to amazing examples of what we’ve come to term Hamptons-style homes.

Seeing the homes ‘in the flesh’ was impressive. Although very different to the mainstream housing styles of Sydney, these homes really offered a classic appeal capable of spanning well beyond the fickle Sydney housing trends seen between one decade and next.

The homes we saw typically comprised weathered timber shingles on walls and roofs, an abundance of gable roofs, thick feature posts at balconies, and some vertical or horizontal wall panelling.

Most homes were grey and white, with the natural greys of weathered timber contrasting with bright white window frames and their dissecting glazing bars, barge and fascia boards, balcony beams and the feature posts that support them.

Our first day in the Hamptons saw us driving around with Google Maps on the iPhone in one hand, the camera in the other, and the steering wheel between my knees (I think that’s legal in USA).

Driving aimlessly from suburb to suburb our only destination was the next tree-lined street as we took in the homes of the area and photographed anything interesting that caught our eye.

We continued exploring until dusk when a summer storm came through with a tornado that touched down in East Hampton. Armed with every real estate showcase magazine we could find through the day, we retreated to our hotel to plan out the rest of the week.

Insider knowledge

With her unusual organisational skills, Gina had co-ordinated our trip to coincide with the annual Hamptons Designer Showhouse and Holiday House Design Show exhibitions.

These exhibitions feature selected new homes fitted out and decorated by renowned interior designers and decorators, each allocated a single space within the homes to show their abilities and inspire the public.

With ticketed access only, funds raised are donated to charity. It was a great opportunity to see the best of what builders, designers, and decorators are offering in this style of home.

With our exaggerated Aussie accents working overtime, we introduced ourselves as home builders from “Down Under”, looking to see the architecture, construction, and styling of homes of the Hamptons area to help introduce their look to our homes in Australia.

That said, and a couple of quick clarifications on the extent of kangaroos in Sydney, and we were put in touch with the builders of the homes being exhibited.

Turns out these Americans love Aussies, and were more than happy to give us personalised tours of a few of their completed homes.

After guided tours of a few homes by their builders, it was clear at this point that I was right with my first impressions of the homes typical of the Hamptons. Direct replication in Australia is neither practical nor affordable to Rosewood Homes’ target market. The challenge we faced was identifying the design features and styling we could incorporate practically and cost-effectively into our homes. Our eyes began to focus onto finer details of homes rather than the broader picture we’d been admiring as we looked at these homes from a distance. Here are some key features we noted:
External features
  • • Palladian windows
  • • Glazing bars to upper half / upper third of windows only
  • • Feature posts with routed faces
  • • Decreased roof pitch to create a feature of roof sections
  • • Shingle cladding on gables
  • • Vertical board cladding to gables (where rest of house is horizontal boarded)
  • • Introduction of trim deck broad pan roofing to patio roofs where rest of house in shingle
  • • Half round gutters to roofs
  • • Pool houses/cabanas
Internal features
  • • Sills to windows
  • • Vertical grooved panelling on feature walls
  • • Horizontally grooved panelling on feature walls
  • • Exposed beams in grid pattern to ceilings
  • • Big skirts and architraves with unmatched profiles (thicker than our standard 18mm profiles)
  • • Door architraves where sides continue up to ceiling, and oversized head architrave between
  • • Vanity benchtops deeper at basins by 50mm
  • • Vanity panel in front of basin routed to look like a drawer
  • • Projected stone surround to three sides around fireplace.
  • • Wall panelling and skirting to wet-area walls instead of tiles
  • • Hobs to shower recesses
  • Built in bench seats

So much to ponder – and we still haven’t talked about the quality of their workmanship. We’ll cover that in our next article…