EVERYBODY'S house has a story to tell. Here's mine: In the late 1990s, I asked Carrie Donovan, the longtime fashion editor of the New York Times (she was later more familiarly known as the "Old Navy Lady" on television commercials), to write a piece about decorator Chessy Rayner for Elle Decor. When it came time to send her galleys, Carrie asked me to fax them to her home in the Hamptons, which piqued my interest because I had just started visiting the area on weekends. A lifelong real-estate addict, I pressed for details—a street name, a house number—only to get evasive answers in return. I soon got the message: Her weekend house was her special retreat, not for casual visitors or the drive-by curious.
Carrie died in November 2001, around the time I decided to abandon my endless search for an apartment in New York and look for a house on the East End. One winter weekend I drove past a low, boxy house with a for sale sign out front. An expired building permit registered to the name "Donovan" was posted outside the front door. I immediately called the broker for an appointment.
The house had lovely light and a yard with lots of potential. The rooms were idiosyncratic and full of whimsy, with lots of layered fabrics, piles of fashion magazines and art books, a fan hand-painted by Karl Lagerfeld and pictures everywhere—of Donovan with Perry Ellis on Water Island, with designer Donna Karan, with editors from the Times.
Long story short: Carrie's house is now mine. (I can only hope that she would forgive me for painting the all-cedar interior bright white!) It has done for me what I imagine it did for her: It has become my sanctuary, and changed my life in ways that I never would have expected. Whether you're looking to buy a house or just looking at houses in the pages of HC&G, I hope you, too, will be inspired by the transformative power of houses in the Hamptons.
Editor in Chief