Design:

Athena Redesigned Her Outdoor Space in Amagansett—Step Inside!

Words by Sacha Strebe.

Nestled among the trees, Athena’s mid-century modern home captures the rustic and refined essence of Amagansett. This is low-key living but with an alluring elegance. She leaned on this relaxed philosophy when designing it to create a seaside reprieve that aligned with the seasonal rhythms and slow pace of the region. 

In a bid to soften the sharp and angular lines of the mid-century architectural style, Athena incorporated natural materials that add movement and textural resemblance to the home’s natural backdrop. This instinctive approach to designing interiors also informed the redesign of her outdoor space with Brown Jordan.

Rope became the unlikely catalyst to strike that visual cohesion she craved between the two zones. The iconic detail on the Brown Jordan Walter Lamb and Oscar collections unified the rope ceiling inside. This material study drives home the casual nature of the environment they live in. “There is so much beauty in seeing a utilitarian material being engineered and executed in sophisticated ways,” Athena explains. “This is what drew me to Brown Jordan’s collections. Every angle of these pieces is pure design magic. I love the seamless integration of the two materials but also the contrast of the dark metal set against the paler rope.”

While Athena didn’t intend on choosing rope across both of the Brown Jordan collections, it’s clear she’s consistent across her design philosophy, from indoor to out. “I’m always looking for ways to insert the tactility and texture of natural materials and the rope offers just that—high design but a nod to something utilitarian and relaxed,” she notes. “The combination of the Oscar and Walter Lamb collections also speaks to my love of pairing vintage with more modernist pieces to impose that electric juxtaposition I crave. It’s in these mostly hidden details that reveal themselves over time, where the true beauty of design lies.”  

Photography: Mikey DeTemple. Styling: Ryan Reineck. Production: Studio Lou. Video Music: Victor Calderone.
Photography: Mikey DeTemple. Styling: Ryan Reineck. Production: Studio Lou. Video Music: Victor Calderone.

Athena’s casual approach to outdoor gatherings also informed the aesthetic of her dining area. Opting for bench seating from Brown Jordan’s Oscar collection instead of chairs allows guests to embrace the season’s informality. Their Moto outdoor sofa follows the same vernacular with ultra-plush cushions that provide maximum comfort in a relaxed style. The stylish throw pillows with their subtle stripe drive home the nautical theme alongside the rope.

Effortless underlines Athena’s design philosophy: Simple ideas, thoughtfully executed. Yes, they are beautiful but never too precious. It’s always about cultivating an experience for people that elevates the senses, and creates long-lasting memories they cherish well beyond the season. Brown Jordan’s commitment to crafting beautiful contemporary furniture that is timeless and made to last, aligns seamlessly with Athena’s own design approach—rooted in the past, primed for the future, and totally of the moment.

Ahead, we ask Athena to share the process behind her backyard transformation, how she was guided by Brown Jordan’s iconic designs, and tips for creating an outdoor space that evokes a casual elegance for all occasions. Plus, we reveal some of her secrets to hosting a relaxed outdoor gathering with family and friends during the summer!  

Photography: Mikey DeTemple. Styling: Ryan Reineck. Production: Studio Lou. Food Styling: Pearl Jones.
Photography: Mikey DeTemple. Styling: Ryan Reineck. Production: Studio Lou. Food Styling: Pearl Jones.
Athena Redesigned Her Outdoor Space in Amagansett—Step Inside!

Talk us through your vision for the outdoor redesign and how you were guided by the Brown Jordan pieces?

First and foremost, I think about how I move through my outdoor space and how I want each zone to function. For instance, I know that every morning I like to have coffee on my deck, so I wanted a chair or a sofa that was super plush and comfortable to enjoy that moment. I also love to entertain during the summer months so it was important that I had a dining area that evoked the casual elegance of an outdoor gathering (more on that later!). 

While I’m driven by aesthetics and beauty, form and materiality also engage my eye as a designer. This fusion is what drew me to Brown Jordan’s Oscar series. I love the seamless integration of the two materials but also the contrast of the dark metal set against the paler rope. They elevate one another; they are greater than the sum of their parts. There is so much beauty in seeing such a rudimentary, utilitarian material being engineered and executed in sophisticated ways.

I have obsessed over their Walter Lamb collection for 15+ years now. When I was first designing the terrace in my Brooklyn apartment, I found a few pieces on 1st Dibs but I couldn’t afford them—they felt so out of reach. To me, every angle of those pieces is just pure design magic. The profile is so beautiful, dainty, and delicate, from the ironwork to the way the rope is woven and integrated, it is so cleverly engineered. Every piece in the collection is a timeless classic I will always love and appreciate, so you can imagine my excitement when Brown Jordan announced the collection reissue.

To be in this position now where I’m able to collaborate with their creative team and showcase both of these collections in my home, is really a dream come true.

Photography: Mikey DeTemple. Styling: Ryan Reineck. Production: Studio Lou
Photography: Mikey DeTemple. Styling: Ryan Reineck. Production: Studio Lou

How do the Brown Jordan designs tie into the interior of your home?

It’s not as though I chose the Oscar and Walter Lamb collections because the rope matched the ceiling in my home. In fact, it was actually one of those “aha” moments when I realized, well, at least I’m consistent! Once again, it’s that union of vastly different and polarizing materials that I’m always attracted to. Knowing that the style of modernist architecture is typically sharp and angular, it can tend to read as austere so I’m always wanting to insert pieces that have more movement to them and natural materials. It’s the reason I added so much wood and rope to my home—it softens it, and creates that yin and the yang. That is something I am constantly seeking in design. 

Photography: Mikey DeTemple. Styling: Ryan Reineck. Production: Studio Lou
Photography: Mikey DeTemple. Styling: Ryan Reineck. Production: Studio Lou

“I love the friction of items that are tactile and nubby alongside things that are slicker and smooth, such as mixing metals with wood and natural materials like ropes and linens. Each of the Brown Jordan pieces I chose celebrates this tension and material exploration.” 

How did the nature surrounding the house inspire the furniture choices?

The relaxed sentiment of Amagansett’s beachy lifestyle definitely influences the way I design and cook at home. Montauk is a fisherman’s town first and foremost and Sag Harbor is a boating town, so I am always preparing fish in the summertime, while my design aesthetic is certainly a nod to the nautical lifestyle of the region. Rope and natural materials are dominant throughout, making things feel undone while also giving it that tactility I crave. I am sure subconsciously it’s why I was drawn to the Brown Jordan collections. The mariner materiality drives home the casual nature of the environment I live in.

Athena Redesigned Her Outdoor Space in Amagansett—Step Inside!
Athena Redesigned Her Outdoor Space in Amagansett—Step Inside!

What are some tips you can share for designing an outdoor environment?

Identify the zones of your home and understand how you are going to use and engage them, and most importantly move through the space. Ask yourself: Where do I want to relax and where do I want to gather? Where is there quiet time versus more active areas?

Just as I’m always wanting to add contrast and varying textures to an interior, this philosophy extends outdoors too. I love the friction of items that are tactile and nubby alongside things that are slicker and smooth such as mixing metals with wood, and natural materials like ropes and linens. Each of the Brown Jordan pieces I chose celebrates this tension and material exploration. 

How does the way you entertain influence your approach to designing outdoors?

My motto has always been to amplify a more casual style of gathering so that people can mingle, chat, laugh, connect, and most importantly, nosh. I love a beautifully abundant family-style meal and casual self-service station because it encourages more connection: connection to ourselves, to others, to food, and to our environment. 

Outdoor gatherings at home should always feel special and beautiful but also casual to the core. There is certainly no need for formality. This is why I opted for the Brown Jordan Oscar benches over individual seating around my Oscar dining table. Guests can easily perch themselves against the edge of a bench, rather than having set places, inviting that casual feeling of summer. I also chose benches because I have the Brown Jordan Moto Armless sectional and the Moto Right Arm Loveseat sectional paired with the Oscar Lounge Chairs around the fire pit on the deck, so visually I didn’t want to repeat the same type of furniture.

Photo: Mikey Detemple
Photo: Mikey Detemple
Athena Redesigned Her Outdoor Space in Amagansett—Step Inside!

What is the secret to creating an elegant but casual outdoor gathering?

The food I create mirrors the energy I want to embody. I want the food to celebrate the pureness of summer so I prefer not to manipulate things too much. This is also represented in how I like to gather outdoors. I am not a fancy pressed linen tablecloth kind of person in the summer, nor am I drawn to stemmed glassware or precious flowers. I want everything to feel a little wilder. I want my guests to feel as though they can show up at my house straight from the beach with sandy feet in a bathing suit and feel welcome. I want that carefree nature to come across in the food, décor, vibe, essence, and energy around the table. 

Photo: Mikey Detemple
Photo: Mikey Detemple
Athena Redesigned Her Outdoor Space in Amagansett—Step Inside!

What are some of your tips for decorating a table?

It’s no secret that I love to forage and I always look to my immediate surroundings for inspiration and let nature inform everything I do, from the menu to the décor. If I’m making grilled shrimp and the recipe calls for rosemary but I have oregano growing in the yard, I’ll use the fresh herb instead, and perhaps a sprig can be used on the place settings, too. 

Every facet of my work incorporates the same philosophy: Simple ideas, thoughtfully executed. I approach my tablescape with the same tenets. Yes, they are beautiful but they’re never too precious, and it’s always about cultivating an experience for people that elevates the senses. 

Photography: Mikey DeTemple. Styling: Ryan Reineck. Production: Studio Lou
Photography: Mikey DeTemple. Styling: Ryan Reineck. Production: Studio Lou
Athena Redesigned Her Outdoor Space in Amagansett—Step Inside!
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