Pattern Perfect

Interior designer Sara Gilbane’s Long Island home is a mix of plush textiles, colorful vintage finds, and treasured family heirlooms.

Yellow Portrait

photography by HALLIE BURTON


"Family party house" is what Sara Gilbane calls her summer retreat in Locust Valley, Long Island. The description is apt, given that her backyard features a 75-by-25-foot homemade slip ’n slide—popular with her children, 6-year-old Virginia and 3-year-old James, as well as adventurous guests. A Rhode Island School of Design alumna and protégée of Celerie Kemble, Gilbane broke out on her own in 2008 and launched a line of furniture, fabric, and wallpaper in 2014.  

Taupe and White Living room

photography by HALLIE BURTON


Most mornings at the Gilbane home begin in the made-for-lounging sunroom.

Gilbane’s welcoming weekend outpost, just an hour’s drive from her home base in downtown Manhattan, channels her breezy, classic bohemian aesthetic in a kick-off-your-shoes-and-grab-a-drink kind of way. Family collectibles add a warm, personal touch throughout the space—including her grandmother’s china; handed-down Turkish and Oriental rugs; and a large American flag that belonged to her grandfather, who raised it every morning at his Rhode Island home. “We don’t have a flagpole, so we draped ours over the stairs,” says Gilbane. The sunroom, she jokes, is “where all rattan goes to die” (in the form of sunshades and vintage furniture). The white Ikea sofa p.p1 {margin: 4.5px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; line-height: 12.0px; font: 8.5px Gotham} span.s1 {letter-spacing: -0.1px} in the living room, accessorized with Lee Jofa custom throw pillows and washable slipcovers, also hints at her laid-back approach. “I want to relax and not get upset if someone spills a bit of wine,” she says with a laugh. Whimsical pieces, like a giant clay leopard she found on the vintage-rich Dixie Highway in Florida, also keep the house from feeling “too serious.

Indochine Settee by Red Egg $2,499 cottageandbungalow.com; Jackson Sofa from $1,699 westelm.com; Vintage Malibu Shades by Horizon Shades horizonshades.com.

Pink and White Living room

photography by HALLIE BURTON


Charlton Floor Lamp by Erin for Visual Comfort $630 circalighting​.com; Tini Tufted Chair by Oomph from $1,795 oomphonline.com; Daphne Ikat Pillow by Madeline Weinrib from $385 madeline​weinrib.com; Low Oval Coffee Table by Eero Saarinen from $1,676 dwr.com; Bondi Beach by Gray Malin from $249 graymalin.com.


Green and Taupe Dining room

photography by HALLIE BURTON


Gilbane designed her best friend’s cottage (located on the same property) to be “really bright and happy” with saturated colors, like the forest green of this dining banquette. 

The color palette—a mix of bright pastels and bold primaries—nods to the natural surroundings, especially the striking sunset views. “From every room in our house, you can see the sun just drop into the Sound,” says Gilbane. Inspired, she painted the living room wall a light pink. “Sometimes it’s so pale it’s almost white, and then at night it gets brighter.”

French Café Side Chair $150 restoration​hardware​.com; Custom Bench Cushions by Sara Gilbane Interiors in Rough ’N Rowdy Grass by Perennials Fabrics; Custom Bench Pillow by Sara Gilbane Interiors in Fig Leaf by Peter Dunham Textiles; Rainforest Natural Shades by Horizon Shades horizonshades.com.

Taupe and White Living room

photography by HALLIE BURTON


The aesthetic is “very high-low,” says Gilbane, who updated the vintage sofa with bright floral upholstery and layered on throw pillows in an equally cheerful print.

“The bohemian feel comes into play with the pattern mix."  

Sharing the property is a refurbished squash court owned by her best friend, who has two kids the same age as Virginia and James. “We do spring breaks and summers together—it’s built-in babysitting, which is kind of the dream,” says Gilbane. “She wanted her weekend place to be fun—you walk in, have a cocktail, sleep too late.” Working with white walls as a backdrop, Gilbane added tailored furniture in blues, greens, and zebra prints. “If people are having fun, there’s an aura in your space,” she explains. In other words, a home that’s always ready to host a party.

Bungalow Side Table by Serena & Lily $498 serena andlily .com; Vintage Sofa upholstered by Sara Gilbane Interiors in Susani Trellis by Oscar de la Renta; Custom Pillows by Sara Gilbane Interiors in Cordoba by Carolina Irving Textiles; Cotton Herringbone Throw $243 brahmsmount .com; Kara Sisal Rug from $54 pottery barn.com.

White Staircase

photography by HALLIE BURTON


The weekend space layers traditional prints in fresh ways—and includes quirky statement pieces, like Clark the clay leopard. 

Stairwell painted China White by Benjamin Moore benjaminmoore.com.

Blue and Red Bedroom

photography by HALLIE BURTON


Blue is a favorite color of Gilbane and her son James, so she made it the focal point of his room, along with pops of red to “keep things punchy” in everything from an antique quilt to the bobble bed.

5 Ideas on Color 
- Draw out the palette from your natural surroundings.
- Go large and abstract with art for a big impact.
- Don’t genderize pink; it’s for everyone.
- Use black as a neutral—such as around bright picture frames and in furniture bases.
- For adding color on a budget, buy inexpensive items in white or lighter shades and splurge on higher-quality color pieces.

Jenny Lind Raspberry Bed $699 landofnod.com; Etoiles Blue Bedding by D. Porthault from $250 dporthault paris.com.

Published on March 18, 2017 - 7:00am EDT

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