Imagine this: packing up your belongings, leaving the city, and heading east to where the land meets up with the water. That’s exactly what designer Stephanie Michaan did three years ago when she watched Manhattan grow smaller in her rearview mirror and took up residence in the small Hamptons town of Bridgehampton.
“My fiancé and I found an old farmhouse that we renovated and designed, then settled in with our very large pup. I started The Interior which has evolved into a small home goods and lifestyle store and interior design studio. I’ve always been drawn to homes and what makes them comfortable, beautiful, and special. I guess I could say I am somewhat of a homebody in a sense that I love nesting; there is nothing better to me than coming home at the end of the day, cooking, and getting cozy,” she says, and we couldn’t agree more.
It’s the same mindset, she says, that inspires the philosophy of The Interior, homes and products that encourage a relaxed lifestyle. “When I design I really aim to be realistic and keep in mind people’s daily routines. I love spaces that embrace simplicity, natural materials, and architecture that allows for as much natural light as possible. When working I try to balance function with uncomplicated design which I think is a big message behind The New Southern,” Michaan adds.
To get a glimpse into her pared back, return-to-basics aesthetics, we asked Stephanie to open the door to her rural farmhouse and to tell us what’s inspiring her right now.
Alyssa Rosenheck: What are your some of your favorite hometown design boutiques to spend your weekend in?
Stephanie Michaan: My favorites are Clic in East Hampton and Tiina The Store in Amagansett. Both stores and owners inspire me in so many ways. I also love some of my Sag Harbor neighbors like JANGEORGe, Monc XIII, and Bloom.
AR: Do you have a favorite shade of white and black?
SM: Simply White by Benjamin Moore is my go-to. It’s warm, creamy, and just right. For black paint, I’ve been loving Farrow & Ball Off-Black No. 57. It’s rich and powerful, but also subtle.
AR: What are words you try to live by?
SM: Less is more. I know it’s a bit cliché but I try to live by this in all aspects of life. Design that is uncomplicated and driven by good quality makes much more of a statement. With my life, I try to keep this in mind in every area. With my shop, I’ve really tried to be careful to only source special things and not carry too many unnecessary objects.
AR: Where do you go to get inspired?
SM: The water. I love living near the beach and I try to make it a point to go every day, even if just for a few minutes. Nothing inspires and resets me more than being near the ocean. My aim in designing spaces is to evoke that feeling of serenity.
AR: The key to making a house a home?
SM: It’s about telling your own story. I love to feel comfortable and for my home to evoke a sense of relaxation. I love clean spaces, but through the years I like to collect things from trips and from my favorite stores, and then I slowly add art and photography. A house becomes a home when it’s lived in and memories are made there. Some great throw blankets, familiar candle scents, and your pup (if possible) will also do the trick.
AR: Life advice you’ve gotten that made all the difference?
SM: Nothing is permanent. It can be really intimidating starting your own company or going off on your own and I think reminding myself that it’s a wonderful thing to say, “I will give it a year.” If it doesn’t work it is all an experience and part of growing. If it does work, it will also be constantly changing and growing.
AR: What about design advice you’ve gotten that made all the difference?
SM: Find balance in the room and let each piece, color, and texture communicate.
AR: What’s the best piece of business advice you could provide for creative entrepreneurs starting out?
SM: Just go for it. There is never a perfect time to do something and if there is something you’ve always dreamed of doing, try to make it work, remember it doesn’t have to be forever, and stick to your point of view. Also, don’t overthink each decision and trust your first ideas.
AR: Who are some of your favorite artists/makers?
SM: I did a trunk show at my shop this summer with textile designer Caroline Z. Hurley. I’m a big fan of her work because her designs are unique, cozy, and so functional. Each piece she creates can be a table cloth, throw, or a beach/picnic blanket. She describes them as not being too precious, which I love. You can really use them. She embraces the idea of having less.
AR: Fill in the blank, “my momma always said…”
SM: Be kind and be yourself.
AR: What’s currently on your nightstand?
AR: The greatest color combination that ever existed?
SM: Natural wood and soft whites.