Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Anh Duong Renovates Her Rustic Hamptons Cottage

Raised in France, the daughter of a Spanish mother and a Vietnamese father, artist Anh Duong has always considered herself an outsider. “I feel at home everywhere and nowhere,” she says. But the East End of New York’s Long Island has had a peculiar hold on her for nearly half of her life. She spent her first summer there in 1988, when, as a model fresh from Paris, she joined Julian Schnabel, then her new boyfriend, in Andy Warhol’s former cliff-top house in Montauk. It was there that she painted her first self-portrait, the genre that has become her artistic signature.
Later came a summer in Bridgehampton, and another in Southampton, at a rented cottage belonging to Roy Lichtenstein. “What I liked was the connection with art,” Duong says. “People always talk about the incredible light, but it’s true. You see things differently out here.” After Schnabel and other romances— and after becoming a fixture on New York’s art and fashion scenes—she fell in love with Barton Hubbard Quillen, who at the time owned the Brooklyn furniture shop Prague Kolektiv, now closed. It was Quillen who took her to see an old fisherman’s house that was for sale in East Hampton, not far from where both Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning had once lived.
Built in 1887, the 1,800-square-foot dwelling was humble, but it had withstood hurricanes, its bead-board walls were solid, and it offered views of the bay in winter, when the trees are bare. Though some improvements had been made—namely the kitchen was upgraded and a bathroom installed (to replace the outdoor latrine) in 1940—Duong notes that “nobody had done the ugly ’70s renovation.”

She wound up buying the place and marrying Quillen. Though they split after a couple of years, Duong decided to keep the house. She turned to her friend Daniel Romualdez, an architect, for advice on what to do with it. He suggested simply moving the staircase, which bisected the living room, to open up the space—and pretty much leaving everything else alone. “I’m like, ‘Really? Try harder!’” she recalls with a laugh, standing in her cornflower-blue kitchen. So Romualdez drew up a more extensive plan. But Duong opted to wait another year before starting renovations, during which time she recognized he had been right all along.
In the end, they also added a fireplace and second-floor bathroom and converted a small outlying cottage, originally a barn, into a painting studio/guesthouse. Duong decorated everything herself, using mostly furnishings acquired from local flea markets and antiques shops, plus a few pieces from Europe. She did rely on advice from Romualdez and another friend, Carolina Irving, a textile designer. “It’s not my thing to hire a decorator,” Duong says, admitting she’s lucky to have the friends she does. The overall effect is feminine and inviting, with Irving’s whimsical florals in soothing blues, reds, and whites covering much of the furniture. “If you don’t know Anh, you don’t realize she’s quite bohemian,” Romualdez says. “The house is the real her—not the glamorous Anh of the party pages.”

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