East End based designer Barbara Feldman Interiors brings to her work more than 40 years of experience, specializing in space planning, interior design, and kitchen, bath, and home renovations. In addition to residential spaces, Feldman also works with commercial interiors.
What’s your signature touch?
My work is usually described as “stylish but not trendy,” and my designs are created to be timeless. You will never hear “oh that’s so last year,” about any of my work. [I tend] not to overdesign or clutter, preferring instead to focus on balance and proportion. I have a great interest in universal design, and invariably incorporate elements, such as curbless showers and adjusted cabinetry heights for safety and ease of use in bathrooms and kitchens, without sacrificing aesthetic.
Define quintessential Hamptons style.
I’ve watched “quintessential Hamptons style” morph over the years, not only as the result of general style trends, but as a reflection of the change in demographic.
Most of my clients have drifted away from the darker woods and roll arm sofas we were seeing a decade ago towards clean lines, an easy open plan design, and a more contemporary feeling. I think it’s important to look at the architecture of the house. We are seeing more contemporary and modern architecture now, and in my opinion, there shouldn’t be a huge disconnect between the exterior and the interior of a home.
The one thing that remains constant regardless of time and style is the desire for natural light and a palette that is a constant reminder that everyone is truly at the beach.
How did you begin designing medical spaces?
I come from a medical family and began by designing small doctors’ offices. In 1986, I became part of a group of architects and designers called “The Symposium on Healthcare Design.” We believed that a positive physical environment helps in the healing process and began to work with the medical community to determine best practices for healthcare design.
We also interfaced with manufacturers to make them aware we needed better options for durable, easily maintained, yet aesthetically pleasing design materials and furnishings.
I designed more than 2500 medical offices and hospital departments that range from ambulatory and primary care through sports rehab, dialysis, oncology/infusion, and multi-specialty facilities. I designed six ambulatory care facilities for Southampton Hospital. My average project was about 20,000 square feet and the largest was an 80,000-square-foot freestanding building for the developmentally disabled in Hauppauge.
Do you approach commercial and residential spaces differently?
With commercial design, I determine the needs and plan the space so that it functions efficiently for the business owner, while appealing to as wide a range of consumers as possible. Whether the project is medical space, retail, office, or showroom, it is my job to understand both sides of the equation and design accordingly.
There are also elements that one does not even think about when designing homes. Those might include considerations such as points of entry and egress, placement of products or presentation of services, ease of maintenance, security, and state, local federal, and ADA code requirements.
Do you have furniture designers you prefer working with?
I do love the classic pieces from designers such as Charles Eames, Eero Saarinen, Florence Knoll, or Eero Saarinen. Their furniture is elegant in its simplicity, structure and balance, and brings a timeless dimension to any design.
Tell us about the first home you designed in the Hamptons.
I was referred to a lovely family by a builder that I met at an awards event, and was retained to essentially redefine the entire living space, kitchen, and common areas. The goal was to create an open-plan home that would be perfect for entertaining family and friends.
The project included removal of barrier walls to visually incorporate a closed off sunroom, raising the ceiling to add volume to the space, adding and relocating windows and doors, and a major kitchen renovation. I also redesigned the lighting, added radiant heat, and specified furniture, furnishings, and finishes.
The before and after difference was very dramatic, but in a simple and comfortable way, that worked with the family’s lifestyle. It was a great project with a great client, with whom I stay in touch to this day.
What is it about the coastal vibe that inspires you?
It’s a happy place. Everyone loves light and bright, and you can’t get more of that than you do out here. Factor in the palette of blue, greens, and soft neutrals that is all around us and you have a great visual environment to work with and to draw into the interior of a home.
I also like that it’s so laid back out here. Most of my clients want a design that’s “sophisticated but beachy,” so I design with the goal of creating environments that not only look good, but allow everyone to live the easy lifestyle they come out here to enjoy.
Are you taking on new projects?
At this stage of my career, I am very selective about what I take on. It is more important that the project be a good fit and the client and I are able to communicate well, because we’re pretty much married for the duration.
I also require that the client have the ability to let go and have confidence in the fact that I am a professional designer who has been doing this for 40 years. That’s a hard thing for people to do, but I find that the more I am micromanaged, the more a project becomes compromised.
Most projects take six-to-nine months to complete on average, and nobody wants that kind of disruption when they’re trying to relax. That said, it is a great time to start the design process in anticipation of beginning actual construction and renovations in the fall.
For more information, visit www.hamptonsinteriordesign.net, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 631-329-6722.