This Montauk Bungalow Was Inspired by Georgia O'Keefe's New Mexico Homes

montauk home tour neutral living room with black fireplace
Thomas Richter of The White Arrow

Born in Vienna, Austria, raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, and currently working in Brooklyn, Keren Richter brings a global perspective to interior design. But, her most recent project led her somewhere a bit unexpected: the beach. White Arrow co-founder and principal designer was tapped to put the finishing touches on a 2,166 square-foot home in Montauk, a waterside community in New York renowned for its quaint beach homes.

For Richter, it was important to create an environment that catered to her clients—a young family of surfers—and their active, ever-changing lifestyle, but was more elevated than the typical beach bungalow. "We wanted the house to have the vibe of a warm, beach-friendly environment with the sophistication of Georgia O'Keefe's New Mexico homes," she shares. "​​We kept the living spaces clean and modern for our clients."

As for the project's main challenge? Richter was working on a tight turnaround. Her solution? Facilitate a "lean and mean" update on the home's existing footprint. "Our goal was for the family to move in fast, so we streamlined the scope of work with strategic interventions that had the biggest impact," the designer explains. "We thought about how they'd use their new home and how it would best function for their active lifestyle, so durability and ease of use became paramount concerns." With a neutral backdrop, touches of terra-cotta, vintage furnishings, and a mélange of textures, the final result hangs nicely in the balance between beachy and beautiful.

01 of 09

Next-Level Neutrals

montauk home tour entryway
Thomas Richter of The White Arrow

Step inside this four-bedroom, three-bath home and you'll be immediately transported to Keren Richter's interpretation of an elegant beach house. "We love how the material story in the entry quickly grounds the home at the beach," shares White Arrow co-founder and principal designer. Here, Richter topped the wooden console with a vase by ceramist Karen Kinney and a playful Moroccan table lamp by LRNCE; a rope pendant light by Cuff Studio hangs above.

In addition to the thoughtful accessories, the entryway offers a sneak peek into the role neutral colors play in this space. The palette is juxtaposed with a mix of textures and bolder, darker hues for extra impact. "We used rich terra-cotta and black sparingly; we kept patterning to a minimum," Richter explains. "In conjunction with bleached floors and warm neutral wood tones, the colors complement a summery mix of warm whites, creams, and pale pinks. The home feels light and bright and is a pleasure to be inside."

02 of 09

Top of the World

montauk home tour brown velvet couch
Thomas Richter of The White Arrow

Most properties have common areas on the ground level—but this home's open-concept living room, dining area, and kitchen are located on the top floor. Richter used this story's tall ceilings and water views to her advantage. "It's a special space to entertain, and the room needed to offer several different purposes harmoniously," the designer says. "Our goal was to emphasize the key focal points, but keep the room cohesive, since you simultaneously see the various seating areas. We dialed back the finishes, so the color palette felt quiet and serene, but we brought in the contrast through key furniture and lighting." In the living room, the amber sofa offers a welcomed pop of color to an otherwise neutral space.

03 of 09

Create Contrast

montauk home tour kitchen

The team dedicated a bulk of time enhancing the kitchen. "[It's] a perfect example of how we strategically updated some of the home's existing architectural elements," Richter shares. "Kitchens are satisfying to design because there is ample opportunity for custom solutions and unique colors and materials." She repainted the cabinetry, swapped out the hardware and faucet, and added beadboard detailing. To keep this culinary quarter warm and welcoming, Richter added butcher block countertops, black stools, and high-contrast pendants from In Common With, which punched up the white paint.

04 of 09

Art of the Matter

montauk home tour dining room
Thomas Richter of The White Arrow

True to her original inspiration, Richter peppered the home with Georgia O'Keefe pieces, adding "Ram's Skull With Brown Leaves" to the dining room. "She was the inspiration for many of the design cues we took while renovating and decorating our clients' home, and the print was a nice homage to her influence," she shares. Richter completed this space with a contemporary dining table from Sun at Six, leather cantilever chairs by Marcel Breuer, and a woven pendant, courtesy of HK Living.

05 of 09

Passing Through

montauk beach house storage shelves
Thomas Richter of The White Arrow

A hallway connects the dining room, kitchen, and main entertaining space with the family room. An exposed built-in storage cubby show off a myriad of objects and books—and keeps frequently-used items (like a printer) easily accessible.

06 of 09

A Practical Pad

montauk beach house pink couch with wooden coffee table
Thomas Richter of The White Arrow

While this Montauk home has no shortage of stylish moments, Richter made sure each room is practical, too. Perhaps no room demonstrates that careful balance between form and function quite like the family room, which doubles as the clients' movie theater. "Our goal was to find a piece that would work well for entertaining, but be especially durable," Richter shares. "The front half of the room functions as their cozy movie room, with the large-scale sectional, additional seating, and vintage credenza."

The pale pink, custom-made sofa Richter added here has a lot more to offer than a soft, stylish seat. "We hid their daughter's play area behind the seating—with toy storage, [the] kitchenette, a child-size workspace, and a rug to play [on]," she says. "The room's color palette is friendly and sweet, but fit for both adults and kids."

07 of 09

Dreamy Digs

montauk home door primary bedroom
Thomas Richter of The White Arrow

"[The] clients are surfers, and we transformed a dated home into one that felt light, bright, but also down-to-earth," Richter says. "Our goal was to give the couple and their toddler a calm sanctuary to ride out the pandemic." She perfected the look in the space's primary bedroom, which features terra-cotta-tinged bedding, woven shades, and a tactile, tonal rug. "We love how the art, textiles, vintage furniture, and custom pieces imbue the room with warmth," Richter notes. "We curated photographs by Romain Laprade, Jan Skacelik, and Laurie Maun throughout the room."

08 of 09

Work from Home Brilliance

montauk home tour built-in office wall
Thomas Richter of The White Arrow

But the primary bedroom's main draw? A custom, cantilever desk that was made with two floating white oak planks. "We felt this was the best way to sophisticatedly incorporate a 'work from home' element," Richter shares. "Their bedroom room was rather long, and the custom piece fills the space nicely and lends a nice warmth to the room." The desk also allowed them to accessorize; a vintage woven leather chair from the 1970s has major character, as does a wooden table lamp with a rattan shade.

09 of 09

Kid's Corner

montauk home tour kids' bedrom with bunk beds
Thomas Richter of The White Arrow

Since the clients are parents to a young daughter, they wanted to create a room that's packed with childhood wonder. "We designed the kid's spaces very economically in a cohesive material palette of white oak, rope, linen, and rattan," Richter notes. "Fun illustrated artwork, rugs, and a rope floor lamp inspired by Adoux et Minet add character and help the rooms feel playful and upbeat." Of course, the designer thought past the family's current needs; though their daughter still sleeps in a crib, the set of bunks are perfect for guests and future sleepovers.

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