Charlie Ferrer doesn’t work with color. Or rather, he doesn’t work with wall color. The New York–based designer prefers to leave his backdrops white and bring in bold hues through upholstered furniture (like his very own cornflower blue sofa) and graphic artwork. However, when a couple approached him to reimagine their Hamptons home with a 50-page brief chock-full of pattern-on-pattern and two-tone paint treatments, Ferrer still signed on immediately. In his own words, Ferrer recalls his time on the two-year project, from the learning curve that came with trying new things to how he knew when to really push his clients.
What I’ll take with me to the next project: At the time (this was 2019), this project was a step far outside of my wheelhouse for sure. The clients were asking me to do something that I don’t have mastery of. I’m proud of the outcome, because I feel like it was a move in a new direction. It shows my proficiency in mixing patterns and colors—like the green floral cushions with the blue geometric window shades in the kitchen—in a way that’s balanced yet still consistent with the way I design. A room doesn’t have to be cottagey to feel whimsical.
Something new I tried: We pulled from the original kitchen’s color palette—blue and white—and decided to paint harlequin checks on the hardwood floors. Typically I would leave the grates and floor outlets bare, or maybe pick a beautiful brass finish, but nothing was sitting right. Painting over them not only makes the pattern feel continuous, it hides these often less-than-appealing features that are strictly functional. I liked the idea of it just being contiguous—that way you get a full sense of the room when you’re in it.
My best vintage find: It was a nasty day in February and I didn’t even know what to expect in terms of the dealers that were still around; I hadn’t been upstate in years. So it was a very slow start and everyone was nervous. Then we found this incredible piece for only $350, an Italian glass mirror that was the exact dimension and vibe for what we needed. It became the jumping-off point for the powder room.
Little detail with major impact: Each room has such a distinct story and personality, but there was no transition between each space. In order to make the main floor feel more cohesive and intentional, we put these flush bronze saddles on the floor in the doorways. They have beautiful countersunk screws, which we made custom to match.
The biggest surprise: In the beginning, I was only brought on to design the main floor; the couple was thinking they would just wing the upstairs. But as we got further along in the process—literally halfway through—they panicked about pulling it off. They didn’t want there to be this major disconnect. It should all feel like one home. So we drove to Hudson, New York, to bargain hunt for the second floor.
The thing I had to really sell my clients on: I love vintage lighting, but quality finds are often the most expensive. The majority of the lighting in the house is flea market scores or things we hunted down on Etsy in order to save on costs. That being said, for the green sitting room, there was this one great lemon-colored Stilnovo fixture that I fell in love with while scouring 1stDibs. I mean, it has this really beautiful star motif in the finial. But the clients had a really hard time wrapping their heads around the price tag at first.
I basically pushed, including it in every rendering and mock-up. Eventually they said yes. All these little details are really important to me, and this fixture ended up being an expression of the bronze that is present throughout the rest of the home.
Design risk that paid off: In the office, the trim is purple and the walls are a rusty orange—a combo I was very unsure of until it made it onto the walls. But now I think it looks good. It’s actually quite calming and soothing in person. I design more around objects, like beautiful furniture, silhouettes, and historical textures; I’m not used to designing around colors. This room was exciting because it was the first time I worked within the space and not around it.