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The Unique Talents And Perspective Of Hamptons Interior Designers

"My business evolved as I took on more design projects and focused less on the decorative painting," said Wiley. (Photo: Sequined Asphault Studio)

CP Complete has worked with many of the top interior designers in The Hamptons, The North Fork, and Manhattan. Interior designers have, not only a unique and specific talent, but they often have a special relationship with their clients. In the best cases, there is a bond and an extraordinary trust that comes with this very personal collaboration. One interior design who creates that special bond is Shannon Wiley of Sea Green Designs. She brings her passion, talent, and knowledge to each and every project, each and every client. Her kind and thoughtful presence, along with a quiet confidence are trademarks of the Jobs Lane proprietor. Shannon has recently opened a larger showroom, or shop as it is known, at 68 Jobs Lane in Southampton. I recently had the opportunity to ask Shannon a few questions about her experiences and the evolution of the interior design business in the Hamptons.

Interior design is a very personal experience. (Photo: Sequined Asphault Studio)

When did you first show an interest in interior design?

SW: I've been interested in designer rooms since I was a child. I used to take cardboard boxes and drape them in old curtains and sheets to create seating areas in my room. As a career, I began designing interiors about 17 years ago. When I initially started my own business, it was as a decorative artist. I primarily focused on decorative painted for walls and furnishings, but I really enjoyed putting entire spaces together. My business evolved as I took on more design projects and focused less on the decorative painting. The use of color and texture remains a key part of my aesthetic and how I design spaces.

Please tell me a bit about your formal education and your first professional experience?

SW: My formal education is in Fashion Design and Environmental Studies. I received my Associates Degree from F.I.T. immediately after high school. After interning in Manhattan, I realized Fashion Design wasn't the career I wanted to pursue. After graduating, I came out to Montauk with college friends to work for the summer before continuing on to get my Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Buffalo. It was the summer in Montauk that made me fall in love with the area, and I continued to work summers while I got my degree. After my last semester abroad at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, I began working in two stores in East Hampton; one a men's clothing store, the other a furniture store. That's when I got the interior design desire.

Where was your first retail location, tell us about those early days?

SW: My first retail location was a tiny 500 square foot store on the corner of Route 114 and Bay Street in Sag Harbor. People still remember my business as Broken Color Works, which was the original name of the business when the focus was decorative painting. Ten years after I opened, I was in two locations, both the original Sag Harbor location and a larger 1,000 square foot location on Hampton Road in Southampton. That's when I decided I wanted to focus on the niche of coastal interiors (the "Sea" in our name), designed using sustainable products (the "Green" in our name). Currently, we just opened a new larger location on Jobs Lane.

"It's really important to get to know how a client spends time in their home," said Wiley. (Photo: Sequined Asphault Studio)

Interior design is a very personal experience; clients quite literally have their day to day environment of their home in your hands. Tell me about how you know when you "click" with a client and have earned their trust.

SW: It's really important to get to know how a client spends time in their home in order to design the space they will spend their time in. I ask a lot of lifestyle questions when we first discuss a project. It's important to know if a client needs comfortable, family friendly furnishings, or if they entertain a lot and are looking for a more high end sophisticated look. I know when I click with a client when it's clear to me what they need.

Let's close out this visit with a story of business relationships and how you have worked together to create something where the whole is much larger than the sum of its parts.

SW: The contractors we work with are integral to the success of every project. We establish relationships with our contractors the same way we establish relationships with clients by setting clear expectations with the client and contractor. Communication is so important to keep a project running smoothly. When we complete a project our clients are usually talking about how they are ready to move onto another project with us.

A trusted network of resources is the key to any successful Hamptons project. Sea Green Designs has been a well-kept secret that isn't such a secret anymore. Their new location at 68 Jobs Lane is front and center in Southampton. Shannon Wiley and her wonderful staff are ready to "change the world one home at a time".

Chris Hall is a partner at CP Complete, a landscape design and construction company. He has been a luxury gunite pool and landscape consultant for over thirty years and shares his observations and advice each month on Hamptons.com. cpcomplete.com

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