Laid-Back LuxuryAuthor:Anh-Minh Le
California influences permeate a modern beach house on the opposite coast
Interior designer Bella Zakarian Mancini’s portfolio proves that you can take the girl out of California, but you can’t take California out of the girl. Even if she’s spent the past 25 years living in New York. Whether Mancini is creating spaces for her client’s city dwellings or weekend escapes—her namesake practice has offices in Manhattan and Sag Harbor—there’s often a “barefoot sensibility,” as she puts it, that can be attributed to her upbringing in the beach town of Del Mar, near San Diego. “My goal is to always approach a project in the most friendly, down-to-earth way,” she elaborates. “It comes through in our love of natural materials. And we hope to bring the outdoors in as much as we can.”
After studying clothing and textiles in San Francisco, then traveling through Europe for six months and interning with a skiwear brand in London, Mancini decamped to New York. Several years in the fashion industry later, she recharted her career—working for an interior designer and enrolling in courses at the New York School of Interior Design. In 2000, she hung out her own shingle. Bella Mancini Design’s studio director, Taryn Burns, also hails from Del Mar, further imbuing its undertakings with a California ease.
Case in point: a vacation home in Atlantic Beach, on the south shore of Long Island, for a repeat client. Mancini previously completed two city apartments for the couple and their five children. The oceanside follow-up for the family marked her firm’s maiden ground- up project. The modern 7,500-square-foot structure, designed by architect Douglas Wright, features expanses of glass that amplify the connection between the indoors and outdoors, along with a plenitude of cedar—used on the exterior as well as for doors and ceilings—that adds warmth.
As you set foot in the entry, the backyard comes into view, just beyond the double-height living room. “You can see straight through the house,” observes Mancini. “The idea was to bring the greenery and sky into virtually all the spaces.” The living room, she adds, is “a texture story,” from the sofa upholstered in a light gray linen to the rope-wrapped side table. The assortment of pillows helps compose a cohesive color scheme; for example, the green pillows relate to the resin coffee table and the amber ones echo the cedar planks overhead. Another good reason to look up: the striking David Weeks Studio chandelier.
Statement lighting also appears in the dining room, where an outsize vintage Louis Poulsen fixture—“a radical gesture,” notes Mancini—presides over a dining table surrounded by upholstered leather chairs. The clients enjoy entertaining, hence the Uhuru table, which spans more than 10 feet. And the adjacent kitchen, outfitted with contemporary Bulthaup cabinetry, offers ample counter and cooking space. At the island, Mancini selected Flos’ Aim suspended light and Emeco aluminum stools. In the breakfast nook, a custom marble-topped table by James Devlin is paired with Jean Prouvé-designed chairs with minty frames. “The pop of green is really pretty with all of the greenery happening outside,” she explains.
According to Mancini, the interiors’ overall palette is “pretty quiet.” The primary bedroom, for instance, is mostly gray and white, with turquoise and chartreuse accents. Elsewhere, splashes of drama come courtesy of some bold tile choices. The two boys’ bathrooms are done in gray tones, with one sheathed in hexagon tiles and the other in square tiles with gradient diagonal stripes. In the primary bathroom, the floor and walls are clad in zebrano marble. “We thought the room was large enough to handle the stripes,” says Mancini. “It certainly is a more daring bathroom than a lot of people would do. But we’ve worked together for so long, and the client is incredibly trusting with us.”
While the backyard with a pool is conducive to hours of alfresco fun, Mancini devised indoor zones that are well suited for the family of seven. A playroom that was once strewn with toys has evolved into a teen hangout space that boasts the abode’s most vibrant palette. “It felt like the right place to go a little bit crazy with color,” she says, noting the multihued Trove wallpaper, Andrew Zimmerman artwork comprised of blue automotive paint on wood, orange Foscarini sconces and a Poliform sofa covered in a blue bouclé. A den that serves as a movie-watching venue includes a custom U-shaped sectional that measures nearly 13 feet wide. “It’s massive,” says Mancini, “so there’s really seating for everyone.”
Indeed, her firm created a home perfectly tailored for its occupants that represents “an authentic rather than aspirational version of our clients,” she says. It’s an approach that time and time again, no matter the locale, has yielded unique interiors that are at once comfortable and curated.