Nothing suggests glamour quite like the summer home of an under-40 Manhattan media power couple in the celebrity-studded Hamptons. Especially when that couple's surname is Cuomo.
An award-winning journalist and coanchor of ABC's , Chris Cuomo is a man so handsome and personable he was named one of magazine's "Most Beautiful People" a little more than a decade ago, just as was anointing him "New York's most eligible bachelor." This son of former governor Mario Cuomo can jump from a 51-story building (he did just that on assignment last winter, though securely harnessed), dodge Iraqi fire while embedded in Baghdad (that was in January 2007), and report on everything from drug policy to hazing in high-school sports to affecting tales of human resilience in the face of adversity.
Equally accomplished is his magazine-executive wife, Cristina Greeven Cuomo, a woman who juggles career, social engagements, good causes, and small children--Bella is 5, Mario 2--so effortlessly that the trendy website Bag Snob recently dubbed her "one of the most fabulous mommies in New York." Descended from a founding father of modern Brazil on one side and Kaiser Wilhelm II's minister of state on the other, Greeven Cuomo is the editorial director of the luxury lifestyle publications and and also represents the chic Spanish skin-care concern in the U.S.
Intimidating, right? Think again. If you were expecting them to retreat to a mansion packed with priceless satins and trophy art, you've turned to the wrong page. The creation of architect Stephen Rossetti and decorator Emma Pilkington, the Cuomos' cedar-shingled home looks finely tailored--environments by Pilkington invariably are-- but it is definitely, as Cristina puts it, mellow. Like the family that inhabits it, people who pride themselves on being down-to-earth and rooted in tradition. Chris's favorite room is the kitchen, where he and the kids enjoy what he calls "adventures in cooking." Cristina, on the other hand, likes being outdoors, riding her bike with Bella, just as she did during her own childhood summers here.
A longtime friend of the couple who also happens to be young Mario's godmother, the Australia-born Pilkington cleverly translated her intimate knowledge of the Cuomos into a house that is a reflection of them--bohemian and worldly but well-mannered too. "I wanted it to feel young, to be relaxed, and yet still be elegant," says the designer, "but not seem studied, because that's not Chris and Cristina." From the looks of things, mission accomplished.
Bathed in sunlight that pours through French doors and sparkling windows and bounces off mirrored tables and other light-reflecting objects (a bit of shine is a Pilkington hallmark), the house feels airy, bright, and open--to the lawn outside, to visitors, to easy family living. Floors layered with woven sisal and furniture covered in crisp linens and soft cottons clearly mark the rooms as casual, and vibrant flashes of color act as instant mood lifters. Purple and blue ikats (in the study and master bedroom, respectively), scarlet curtains in the guest bedroom, a touch of tart green in the living room, and accents of what Pilkington calls acidy yellow help chase away city-induced fatigue. So it stands to reason that each time the Cuomos open the door after the long drive from Manhattan, they can sense this is a place to get happy.
The fact that the decoration of the house developed organically--with Pilkington's design sense interacting with client heirlooms and items from her own storage--plays a large part in this at-ease atmosphere. The green veins coursing through the marble of a 19th-century fireplace Cristina inherited from her maternal grandmother, for instance, led the designer to repeat the color in adjacent ground-floor rooms as well as in a decorative panel painted by her artist sister, . In the dining room and sunroom, gilded antique mirrors and iron chandeliers from a showhouse room decorated by Pilkington contrast with walls painted an enchanting pale blue. That color turned out to be a flattering backdrop for other heirlooms, including a narrow French farm table and a marble-top cocktail table, its dark finish stripped to the raw wood. A framed section of silvery wallpaper by Gracie emerged from Pilkington's storage to gently blend into the sprinkling of mirrored surfaces; along with it came a funky 1970s wall sculpture by C. Jeré, its bronze, brass, and copper disks complementing the decorator's careful dashes of warm yellow.
"If I'm not using something, I'd rather have it live in Cristina's house, where I can spend time," Pilkington explains. "It's the fun part of decorating with friends." Greeven Cuomo's delight in what her decorator has wrought is pretty clear. "You have this vision of what you want your life, your home, to be," she says. "Well, this goes beyond that. It is even more special than what I imagined."
Click here to view the resources.