Hamptons Edition Design

Design Maven Athena Calderone Reveals How She Transformed Her Hamptons Hideaway from ‘Trapped in Time’ to ‘Tried-and-True’

Athena Calderone at home in Amagansett.

As any design enthusiast worth their weight in reclaimed farm wood knows, Athena Calderone has begun renovations on her new home in Tribeca, a luxurious, sprawling space with coffered ceilings and three fireplaces. The project follows the sale of her Cobble Hill townhouse, the renovation of which helped fuel the design and culinary multi-hyphenates devout fan base. “Everything about the Brooklyn home was perfectly designed, every last nook and cranny,” says the interior designer, lifestyle influencer, cooking guru, book author, and serial revamper of residences. “I was ready for a change.”

Yet even while she’s deep in the throes of the ambitious project—a year-long remodeling job that she’ll share, naturally, with her legions of followers the megahit Instagram page EyeSwoon—Calderone admits she’s still hopelessly in love with her home out East, where her creative tendencies took root. Purchased 16 years ago, the Amagansett beach house that she shares with her husband, the music producer and DJ Victor Calderone, and their teenage son is their “tried-and-true” home, where they intend to ride out the transformation of the Tribeca dreamhouse. 


“I obviously love design, and I love reimagining spaces; I’ve often done that with my own homes in Brooklyn and now in Manhattan,” she says. “But our place out East is the one constant we can’t live without. It’s the center of our family.” Calderone says she’d always wanted to live in a mid-century modern home. She wondered if perhaps the Amagansett abode she acquired in 2008 was built by Horace Gifford, the famed beach house architect who brought breezy modernist design to Fire Island in the 1960s.

But about a year ago, an identical reproduction of the house went on the market in the next hamlet over, Springs. “Everything about it, down to the location of the basement door, was the same,” says Calderone. She learned that the property, known as Mermaid Ranch, was designed in 1968 by Kaneji Domoto, who apprenticed with Frank Lloyd Wright and elsewhere designed five homes in the celebrated architect’s Usonian style. In other words, any way you slice it, Calderone got her mid-century modern.


Not that she always saw it with rose-colored glasses. When the couple went to the initial viewing, she says, “There was mold everywhere. It was like the house was actually sweating. We saw a dead deer in the pool, and there were tapestry-like curtains and shag rugs. It was trapped in time.” Yet she saw potential in the wreckage. “You couldn’t deny the beauty of the architecture.”

She immediately got to work with her new neighbor, Paul Masi of Bates Masi Architects, on renovating the home with an eye to preserving its cozier elements. “I really wanted to lean into the comfort of the space and add a soft materiality,” she recalls. “At the time, I had a fixation with rope, and Paul and I were struggling with what to do in the ceiling, where the existing white drywall between dark beams felt too contrasty. Cleverly, Paul reached out to fishermen and sailors who knew how to work with rope, so I had all these locals in my home applying rope between ceiling beams.”


A facelift came in 2019, an “exercise for me to see how much materiality can transform and brighten up a space,” she says. “The dark lava stone turned to a beautiful marble, and the reclaimed wood was changed to plaster. It was a way to breathe new life into the space that also aligned with the release of my design book, Live Beautiful."

“Essentially, I was channeling what I love about the Hamptons, the informality of it all,” she continues. “I love the casual laissez-faire attitude and rhythm, from strolling the cliffs of Montauk while my son surfs below to visiting organic farmers markets to discovering the history of the area’s modern art scene. That’s my version of the Hamptons.”