Inside Robert Downey Jr.’s Windmill Home in the Hamptons | Open Door | Architectural Digest
In this episode of Open Door, Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man, Avengers) and wife Susan Downey turned a converted windmill into a stylish and charming Hamptons home. In this funny, full-access house tour, the Downeys show off their favorite art, let you into their closets and explain why their cats have full run of the place.
"We wanted something we haven’t seen a million times,” the Iron Man star says, describing the property itself as well as the decorative ministrations of AD100 designer Joe Nahem and the team at New York City–based Fox-Nahem Associates.
The Downeys originally met Nahem two summers ago, when they rented the heavenly Amagansett country house the designer shares with his partner, Jeffrey Fields.
The Downeys said goodbye to Nahem and Fields that summer with a request that the designers alert them to any particularly enticing properties coming onto the market in the Hamptons. Several months later, Nahem found a place that more than fit the bill: a late–19th century windmill folly, originally constructed as a playhouse, that had been transformed into a full-fledged residence by way of structural additions grafted onto the building in the decades following its construction. Among the many attributes of the estate were proximity to the town of East Hampton coupled with the privacy of a secluded location, enchanting gardens conjured by landscape designer Joseph Tyree for the home’s previous owners, and those sublime trees that dot the lawns like masterpieces of sculpture.
Nahem didn’t have much time to revel in the triumph of his matchmaking. As soon as his clients acquired the property, they gave their designer a mere six weeks to transform the home into a Downey-rific sanctuary keyed to the couple’s adventurous aesthetic tastes and the comfort of their children, five-year-old son Exton and three-year-old daughter Avri. (The actor has another son, 24-year-old Indio, with his ex-wife, Deborah Falconer.)
Happily, once the holiday season was over, Nahem and his team were able to return to the home and begin the renovation in earnest. One of the biggest changes was the reconfiguration of the living room that lies just beyond the octagonal entry foyer at the base of the windmill. To give the transitional area a greater sense of place, the designer sunk the living room several feet and anchored it with a massive wraparound fireplace wall by ceramic artist Peter Lane.
Another major component of the renovation involved rethinking the pool area to suit the Downeys’ vision of easy, breezy outdoor leisure. Rather than making the guesthouse do double duty as a swimming cabana, as it had in the previous scheme, Nahem designed a freestanding poolside pavilion, in collaboration with Alveary Architecture, replete with a dining setup centered on a mosaic-topped table by Kelly Behun Studio, an outdoor living room and bar, and a television almost as large as the screens at the local multiplex.
As for the interiors of the house itself, the mix represents an amiable consensus among the Downeys and their designer: pedigreed pieces and unpretentious off-the-rack staples, poppy colors and soothing neutrals, eccentric accents and discreet luxuries. It’s an idiosyncratic assemblage that speaks equally to the actor’s puckish spirit, his wife’s concerns for efficiency and ease, and Nahem’s finesse in crafting eminently livable homes with a touch of otherworldly magic.
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