Australian interior designer Timothy Godbold opens the doors to his American retreat, filled with filtered light and clean lines.
When Australian interior designer Timothy Godbold first saw his future home in 2019, he wasn’t even looking for a property. The New York-based designer says, “I wasn’t in the market. I was looking, but not really. I am in the business of repairing and not destroying, and this one was interesting.” Godbold saw this Southampton house, which had been abandoned for a couple of years and had otherwise been used as a summer rental. Located in a very nice area of Southampton, the house was built in 1972 by the local architect and teacher Eugene L Futterman. “It was rundown, and the architecture is insane,” Godbold shares. “I get bored by some of the architecture in the Hamptons. Lots of spec houses and faux English colonial places. Boring. I am always looking to bring something back to its former glory. I like to show people what can be done.” With this full renovation, mission accomplished.
Godbold’s method is to proceed in compartments, putting everything in a box. First, the roof and gutters. He set about to make sure everything was structurally sound, explaining that there was no use attacking the interiors if there would be leaks and rain pouring in. “I put on a beautiful new roof and all-new windows and doors. That was the big thing. I added a lot of floor-to-ceiling windows, and they are all picture windows.” The interior is flooded with light and views and Godbold designed wooden slats on the skylights to act as sunblinds. The original blinds were electric and difficult to operate. As the renovations occurred during the pandemic, he couldn’t find anyone to fix them. Finally, he decided to design the wooden blinds himself. He observes that his indoor plants are very happy. The effect is stunning, with filtered light and shadows throughout. “Very Richard Gere in American Gigolo,” he adds with a smile.
For the exterior, the designer stained everything black. The wood, a gorgeous cedar, had been weathering for 50 years, and the black stain feels Japanese. Godbolt explains that he was looking to combine a bit of his childhood environment in Perth with the glamour and drama of James Bond, a constant cinematic reference throughout this place. There was even an idea to create a dramatic concrete bunker garage, but the city authorities declined it. According to the designer, as the house is on a wetland, there are many considerations with regards to building.
The house features many details; the chimney was encased in brick as Godbolt wanted the house to look more substantial. Coming from Australia, he was surprised by all the wooden houses, which didn’t seem quite solid enough to his eye. Although in the US since 1995, he grew up in an area where all the houses were concrete and brick. Godbolt also turned his hand to the exterior garden area with a series of underlit cantilever bluestone steps, which lead up to the house and feature integrated speakers. The outdoor area centers on a circular fire pit, designed by him, and surrounded by pebble mosaics. The landscaping is as dramatic and modernly chic as the interiors.
The entire house is flooded with natural light and amplified by the designer’s attention to detail and his clean, minimalist aesthetic. The main salon is anchored by an impressive yet simple fireplace which he describes as a ziggurat. The color palette is white, beige, and black; all muted and serene. The only color accents come from the huge picture windows, which display the natural beauty of the surrounding grounds.
Godbolt shares that he is a collector of furniture, and he lives with pieces by Lella and Massimo Vignelli, Roberto Pamio, Noti Massari, Renato Toso, and Mario Botta. All mix seamlessly with his own site-specific creations like the stainless-steel bed in one of the guest rooms, with a built-in desk at its foot and a Robert Loughlin painting on the opposite wall. The master bedroom features a bed on a carpeted riser shrouded in Belgian linen drapery and a bathroom with a soaking tub beneath beautiful skylights. In the kitchen, he put in a terrazzo counter and tiled backsplash and shelf and continued with a custom terrazzo dining room table.
This is a place where the designer lives and works. He shares that he must be inspired where he works, so for now, this modernist masterpiece fits the bill. He adds that this is a great place for entertaining and he has his collection of ceramic tabletops on display. Now, his practice is extremely busy with projects in Manhattan, the Hamptons, and several in Miami. Although all his current projects are residential, he does want to expand into the hospitality space and thinks the Arab world is a great place to do so. “In the Middle East, people are more open to new ideas and the scale of the projects are so big. This is inspiring,” he says.
After just nine years of his firm under his belt, Godbolt has many plans for the future. “I want to play in the big game, globally. I believe in myself, and I feel lucky for that. This house, I designed in minutes. I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I trust my decisions and away we go.” In addition to his goals for global expansion, he also keeps some things close to home. He runs a non-profit in the Hamptons called Hamptons 20th Century Modern with the intention to encourage a younger generation of like-minded people to take interest in the modernist houses there and continue the conversation about them.
Originally published in the Fall/Winter 2023 issue of Vogue Living Arabia