March 6, 2015

An East Hampton Home Gets a Makeover by Waldo Hernandez

Hollywood celebrity designer Waldo Fernandez creates an Asian-inspired home in East Hampton.

by Jorge S. Arango interior designer Waldo's Design photographer Costas Picadas architecture Waldo's Design


"I think what is most special about the home is all the people who have come in and out of it through the years," says architect-designer Waldo Fernandez of the 6,000-square-foot East Hampton retreat he's been refining since purchasing the land in 2003. For someone whose clients have encompassed Hollywood legends both old (Elizabeth Taylor, John Schlesinger) and new (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie), his is one star-studded revolving door, especially during summer, when Fernandez is in residence, often with his son, Jake.

"I was inspired by homes in Thailand," explains Fernandez of the compound he designed, which comprises three structures built around a lotus pond. "I brought in this feeling especially through the different levels we built; some areas were six or seven feet off the ground." Ipe wood on floors and under deep eaves, as well as plantation-style shutters, also transport the residence to the Far East, while cedar shingle siding grounds it in its locale.

Fernandez, of course, loves collecting friends. But he's also a collector of exquisite art and objects, many assembled here with his worldly, yet completely unpretentious signature. "I am always shopping, picking up interesting pieces that have a story and catch my eye," he says.

The quartet of low-slung Jean-Michel Frank armchairs in the living room caught his eye in Argentina in 1986. They are upholstered in pony hide and encircle a Jacques Adnet low table. The individual furnishings (there's also a Carlo Mollino floor lamp) lend the grouping a sense of provenance, but it also feels utterly relaxed and unforced.

Jake's green bedroom, one of six, boasts an American 19th-century four-poster bed dressed in a John Robshaw quilt, above which hangs a Peter Beard photo of cheetahs. Yet it feels as approachable and charming as a cozy cottage; albeit, perhaps-with its wicker touches and prints of exotic flora and fauna-one inhabited by an Englishman in colonial Malaysia.

The warmth of wood is everywhere, and natural materials (the kitchen's soapstone counters, the granite-rimmed pool, rush mats made by Fernandez's company in the Philippines) balance the impressive collections of art and objects by giving them an organic backdrop.

As a boy, says the Havana-born Fernandez, he helped his mother decorate their homes. "She would say, 'This is not for boys,'" he recalls. "But I loved doing it." Clearly, he still does.