Long Island’s upper fork is already well-known for its farms, vineyards and restaurants. Now, people are buzzing about its design aesthetic.
“The North Fork is characterized by its maritime and agricultural roots, making it an eclectic mix of casual and coastal style,” said Caitlin Flynn, co-owner of North Fork Design Company.
According to NFDC co-owner Elyse Parkhurst, the area’s design philosophy encompasses “timeless furniture” with simple lines and accents of reclaimed wood, industrial elements and nautical-inspired pieces.
“We utilize relaxed fabrics, light and breezy colors and natural stone and sea grass rugs, along with rustic wood and textural elements,” Parkhurst said.
New life, for example, is given to furniture at White Flower Farmhouse in Southold, where owner Lori Guyer specializes in refurnishing farmhouse tables.
“I stick with neutrals,” Guyer said. “I strictly stay with bleached pine, natural colors and a lot of white to lay a base. Then you bring in your own colors.”
In terms of North Fork-inspired interior design, one should look no further than the home of Dr. Kristina Ivy and her husband, Ben Wartofsky. Two years ago, the Brooklyn-based couple bought a four-bedroom Dutch colonial in Southold.
A Virginia native, Dr. Ivy is a holistic clinician who specializes in women’s health. She’s also the creator of the body care line Rica Body, which launched a few years ago and is now sold in stores like Anthropologie, Crate & Barrel and West Elm.
Dr. Ivy purchases many of the line’s ingredients from farmers on the North Fork — particularly farms owned by women.
“We try to support female farmers, so it’s been a nice bridge,” she said. “Our tag line is ‘Southern born, Brooklyn made, North Fork found.’ ”
Dr. Ivy’s love of the North Fork is expressed in her decorating style, which she refers to as “minimal coastal farmhouse.”
“When I say minimal, there’s not a lot of clutter,” she said. “It’s coastal in that I like to use soft tones and linens, colors in the same palate. And then farmhouse, because we love to find antique pieces.”
White is the reigning color in Dr. Ivy’s home — particularly on the first floor.
“When I design a room, I find a textile that I like,” she said. “I might find a pillow and design a room around it. That becomes your palate and this is what you center the room around.”
In the living room, white-hued furniture is accented with muted tones like beige, sand, gray and pale pink on pillows and blankets that lend a sense of warmth. Meanwhile, green succulents provide contrast.
“I like to use a lot of texture,” Dr. Ivy said. “I love blankets that have a nubbiness to them, or linen, which is one of my favorite fabrics. I accent with the succulents and then put pebbles around them from the beach. That gives it a little modern aesthetic.”
Dr. Ivy’s dining room is dominated by a large, industrial table she bought in the Hudson Valley and considers one of her most expensive pieces. The chairs that adorn it, however, are budget-friendly buys from IKEA. A white cabinet was purchased from White Flower Farmhouse, one of Dr. Ivy’s go-to venues for furniture and design ideas.
“I think Lori makes things so accessible and easy for people to figure out how to use them,” Dr. Ivy said. “She had her plates displayed [in a pile]. That’s a good idea, so I put my plates [like that] on my table, which I think makes people want to eat. And it’s comfortable.”
“There’s nothing formal about my style,” she continued. “It’s pull up a chair, pull up a plate and enjoy.”
The second-floor bedrooms in Dr. Ivy’s home are designed around a turquoise pie safe from Ohio. But the piece Dr. Ivy truly began basing her style around is a painting that hangs above the pie safe.
“I started with the painting,” she said. “That would be an example of a textile where I love the colors. There’s a little bit of turquoise and a little bit of beige.”
Another bedroom is infused with color thanks to a blush pink linen bedspread bought at a trade show.
“The bedspread was a little on the bright side for me,” Dr. Ivy said. “So I got this great table from White Flower Farmhouse and decided to use it as an end table. It’s big, but it worked out because it kind of gave it some anchoring.”
Small accent tables, most which were purchased at yard sales and then refurbished by Dr. Ivy, also dot the home.
“A table may be five dollars or somebody’s getting rid of it,” she said. “You sand it, you paint it, you distress it to make it look interesting. You have to be a bit of a hunter and look for things, but it’s so easy out here because there are so many great garage sales and estate sales.”
While Dr. Ivy doesn’t consider herself a professional designer, she believes decorating is in her blood.
“My mom, my aunt and my grandmother were all decorators,” she said. “My aunt professionally, my mom a bit professionally and my grandmother did it as a hobby.
“I think décor should have an ease to it that makes it feel emotionally connected to each other,” she continued. “That’s really what it’s all about. A home is supposed to be a home.”
Tips for creating “North Fork” style
Remember that less is more.
Buy what you love, but be mindful of where it is sourced and try to buy local.
Purchase refurbished furniture with simple lines.
Add texture with blankets, throw pillows and rugs.
Use relaxed fabrics in neutral colors like white, beige and gray.
Use natural items such as stone, wood and jute.
See more pics from inside Dr. Ivy’s home. Photos by Katharine Schroeder.