Wanderlust is not a term typically used to describe a decorating style, but it’s perhaps the only one that encompasses designer Alisa Bloom’s ethos wholeheartedly. But for this particular East Hampton, New York, project, her worldly vision proved trickier than usual to execute.
For any given residential commission, Bloom typically relies on rare finds and vintage treasures collected all across the globe. But when this redesign for a family kicked off, it was the peak of the pandemic. That, however, made the work all the more necessary: The family was in the process of transitioning from their city life to being based in the home practically full time.
Somewhere along the way, Bloom was finally able to travel again. “I would have five days to visit all my vendors and get out,” Bloom recalls of her European sourcing trips. To supplement those voyages, the designer also ventured to vendors in the American South, a region where she hadn’t done many “deep dives” in the past, but one that provided a fruitful new well of materials.
The end result is a modern home with a distinctly rich array of colors, tones, and details. Every room, it seems, has its own story to tell. In the entryway, a 1970s table commands the foot of the stairwell. It’s an original display piece from the Hermès store in Milan, sourced in the South of France from a vendor who specializes in luxury showroom pieces. The table serves as an introduction to two crucial categories that help define the rest of the house: commercial display finds and, in particular, gems with ties to the fashion industry. One example? Her clients’ favorite piece—a pair of antique Italian deck chairs, reupholstered in a Chanel tweed from the 1960s, situated in the guest bedroom.
“Restaurants and stores always push the envelope and are so much riskier; it’s great to get ideas from them,” Bloom says. Case in point: an Italian Art Deco–inspired light fixture that hangs in the sitting room. Bloom first spotted it in a restaurant in Florence, asked where it was from, and had it remade in a custom size. In the same room, a pair of pillows were reupholstered in vintage Hermès fabrics.
Somewhat surprisingly, these luxurious decor elements don’t feel fussy. “I didn’t want anything too perfect. I wanted it to be banged up a little, which is why vintage felt so ideal,” Bloom says. “It just makes the house feel welcoming.”
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When it came to the sitting room sofa, Bloom opted for a custom terry cloth upholstery (functional for indoor-outdoor living and welcoming to all, family dog included). Across the room sit two vintage Italian chairs that had taken such a beating from being left out in the rain, only their frames were salvageable. (The springs were promptly replaced, and the upholstery was redone to tie into the room.) Nearby, woven drapes—selected by the designer because their fabric felt reminiscent of the South of France—frame each window. Across the seating area, lofty pendants from South America supply a warm glow. It’s the perfect finishing touch for a room that works just as well during beach-oriented summer months as it does during the cozier seasons of the year.
Overall, it just might be that crafting narrative through color is Bloom’s specialty. “I always start with a palette, pulling a million fabrics and colors with no rhyme or reason,” she shares. “Then I start putting it together, room by room, like a puzzle.” Furniture, she reasons, comes shortly after, beginning with vintage finds of course.
That’s perhaps one reason why this home seems to brim with joy. Another? The longtime clients trusted Bloom to take charge, allowing her vision to flourish. There were a few particularities, though. For one, the living room sofa needed to be comfortable enough for the homeowners to snuggle up by the nearby fireplace. When the designer spotted an ideal modular sectional in Florence online, she found a way to visit Italy so she could lay on the sofa herself, and send photos to her clients to prove that it was indeed incredibly comfortable.
Another example of how Bloom goes above and beyond? “I don’t let them come onto the site before the house is finished,” the designer says of her various commissions. “It’s a closed set, then a HGTV show reveal-type of moment, which brings me so much joy.”