The British have bestowed upon the Hamptons several well-known high-profile designers and builders, and Chris Mead is possibly the most recognizable in the region. As the proprietor of the largest home furnishings store on the East End, English Country Home, he is also well-known for his interior design work as well as staging properties for the most successful builders and real estate professionals. In addition to all this, Mead works closely with other interior designers to see their visions come to life through his experience and the endless choices of furnishings in the store.
Did we mention that he has published more than 12 coffee table books on décor, gardens, and epicurean delights, of which 750,000 copies have been sold worldwide?
Mead’s design aesthetic did not start where you think it did. He jumped the pond to study photography with the likes of Irving Penn, Francesco Scavullo, Helmut Newton, and many others. This naturally shifted him towards fashion photography. It wasn’t until he worked with Martha Stewart that he began his journey into the world of interior design and décor in general.
“I came to the states to work for fashion photographers and many of them had homes in the Hamptons. It was during these shoots that I fell in love with the area,” explained Mead. “I bought my first house here for $50,000 in the early 1980s.”
It was not long before this same house appeared as an eight-page spread in House Beautiful magazine. As far as being an interior designer, he had arrived. That same year, he started bringing over containers filled with beautiful home furnishings from all over Europe.
Mead’s eye for design spans the gamut of antiques to modern and contemporary. He travels frequently to scope out the hottest trends and denotes that he finds inspiration everywhere. Mead says that we mustn’t be afraid to use pattern and color, and that decoration is back. He especially loves three-dimensional fabrics, Tibetan sherpa, wool felt, and said that plaids are back in style.
“Design is just so exciting right now. I just visited The Fife Arms in Braemar, Scotland,” he said, referring to the luxury hotel. “Inspiration is everywhere, such as art, culture, even food. It’s all very unexpected and unusual at the moment.”
Having sold to New York’s top designers and Hamptons home owners, English Country Home has evolved to sell everything for the home nationwide, and is famous for its ever-changing and carefully curated collections of antique and modern home furnishings. The regular English Country client often visits every week, looking for inspiration and checking out new trends in design and decoration.
When asked how he balances being an interior designer with working for incredible interior designers, he said there is a good balance in their relationships. “They come to us when they need pieces immediately and can’t get the large selection anywhere else,” he said. “Our service is bar none the best in the industry, our staff is the most knowledgeable, and we change stock so frequently that we are on trend more often than not. It’s very efficient.”
Of late, Mead has been staging some of the most celebrated homes on the market, many of them in the multi-million-dollar range. “Most in the industry have accepted the fact that home staging is the only way to sell a home quickly,” he explained. “Houses of this scale and quality need more than just installing of furniture. It needs to be designed. The buyer is falling for a lifestyle.”
In the end, Mead and his wife, Zoe Hoarde, live a simple and hardworking life. “I love walking on the beach with my wife and our dog. We adore traveling and we’re researching our next trip. Of course, we love antiquing!” When asked if he ever missed England, he simply said, “No, I don’t miss it. But I do enjoy going back as a tourist.”
To learn more about Chris Mead or English Country Home, visit the store at 26 Snake Hollow Road in Bridgehampton, check out www.ecantiques.com, call 631-537-0606 or follow their Instagram handle, @englishcountryhomeny.