Northeast Notebook: Design Inspiration in Seaside Sag Harbor, New York

Moody Magic at the Galerie House of Art and Design featuring Nancy Lorenz’ “Sunlight” painting. Credit: Katie Leede and Co.

Katie Leede in her eponymous shop. Credit: Katie Leede and Co.

Hello LDV readers, Stefanie Scheer Young here with an installment of Northeast Notebook.

If shopkeeping is good theater, who is better suited than one-time-actress-turned-ace-interior-designer Katie Leede to see the possibilities in an empty shop front and conjure a mesmerizing stage set overflowing with temptations. Having segued from acting to design in Los Angeles, Leede later relocated to New York City, for love. But in the early days of the pandemic she was spending more time than usual outside the city, in the Hamptons, when she happened upon the “For Rent” sign in the window of Sag Harbor’s former Ruby Beets shop, a beloved, recently shuttered antique shop. She just decided then and there to take the leap into retail. She has not looked back, no spread sheets, no market research, just unbridled enthusiasm. The resulting store, Katie Leede and Co., like its proprietor and her interior design work, is effervescent, effusive and endlessly creative. The shop has become the go to source for unique floor coverings that inspire complete room schemes. And, in addition to showcasing her extensive line of fabrics and wallpapers, she carries a rich assortment of lighting, upholstery, and decorative objects amassed over years of inquisitive and acquisitive travel across the globe.

A selection of Leede’s vast collection of carpets. Credit: Stefanie Scheer Young

Lamps, lions, cushions and carpets in the shop window. Credit: Stefanie Scheer Young

A wide of array of artwork comes through the store. Credit: Katie Leede and Co.

If a visit to Leede’s new curiosity shop isn’t enough of a draw to enchanting Sag Harbor, NY, this week the curtain rises on the inaugural Galerie House of Art and Design, a month long show house whose goal is to illustrate how to to “Live Artfully.” Assigned the tiniest of the spaces, Leede has whipped up a “Magical Mudroom,” not so much a boot room as an intimate, charming gathering spot. The cozy dark green space is illuminated by a stunning piece of Nancy Lorenz’ art work. Galerie’s editorial team drew to Sag Harbor a group of talented designers from near and far, who have in common an aptitude for creating extraordinary rooms that showcase exceptional collections of art. In addition to Leede participants include design chair Nicole Fuller, Rayman Boozer, Billy Cotton, Mark Cunningham, Geoffrey De Sousa, Dwyer M. Derrig, Benoist F. Drut, Elena Frampton, Elizabeth Gill, Josh Greene, Ellen Hamilton, André Jordan Hilton, Adam Hunter, Ike Kligerman Barkley, Leroy Street Studio, Leyden Lewis, Jeff Lincoln, Richard Mishaan, Rocky Rochon, and Sara Story as well as kitchen designer Bob Bakes.

Leede brainstormed a scheme for the small mudroom. Credit: Katie Leede and Co.

Leede’s final mood board. Credit: Katie Leede and Co.

The Magical Mudroom coming into focus. Credit: Katie Leede and Co.

The room comes to life. Credit: Katie Leede and Co.

For those making the trip to visit the shop at 23 Washington Street and the show house (running through September 7th) at 772 Middle Line Highway there is much in the surrounding town to take in. Settled in the early 1700s, Sag Harbor’s deep water harbor became an international port and whaling center, its colorful reputation famously documented by Herman Melville. Many old whaling captain’s houses survive, complete with historic details like widow’s walks, and the history of Sag Harbor has been kept alive through the efforts of the Whaling and Historical Museum. Leede bought a little 1890s fixer upper of her own and is putting down roots in the community fast but she brings the wide-eyed enthusiasm of a newcomer. She has a heartfelt appreciation for the small town feel that has lasted, as she points out there is still a five-and-dime, independent bookstore and old school beverage shop right on Main Street.

Main Street, Sag Harbor. Credit: Stefanie Scheer Young

Come for the people watching, stay for much more. Credit: Stefanie Scheer Young

Leede’s top recommendations for visitors include:

Stay: Book at Barons’ Cove, a cozy waterfront resort with nautically inspired design, offering a salt water pool and a shuttle providing local beach passes, chairs and umbrellas.

Eat: Leede’s favorite is tutto il giorno, for lunch or dinner. She also suggests Dopo la Spiaggia for yummy Italian and K Pasa for a quick Mexican salad and margarita and fish tacos, Lulu</a]http://www.lulusagharbor.com”>Lulu Kitchen and Bar is great too.

People Watching: the American Hotel porch, especially for lunch (and they also have a handful of overnight rooms that book up quickly).

Antiques: Black Swan is fun, especially for their old photos of Sag Harbor, visit dealer Jean Yves Legrand’s Neo Studio emporium, and hit Sage Street Antiques for a mix of traditional treasures.

Culture: Check out April Gornik and Eric Fischl’s reinvention of an historic church</a]https://www.sagharborchurch.org”>church into an arts center, visit the Custom House (operated by Preservation Long Island) to explore the history of the maritime trade, and don’t miss the awesome renovation of the Art Deco Sag Harbor Cinema after a fire gutted it a few years back.

Creative Shops: Stop in at Bloom for owner Mona Nerenberg’s creatively edited selection of tableware, accessories, art and gifts, visit Natasha Esch’s Monc XIII showcasing treasures from the 18th century to the modern day, and JANGEORGe is great for more modern home decor.

Provisions: Cavaniola’s Gourmet, just down the street from Leede’s shop, is the place to stock up on wonderful cheeses, prepared food, desserts and more, stop by Grindstone’s Coffee and Donuts in the morning, make sure to get an ice cream at Olaf’s and take a walk down to the pier for a look at the yachts.

The Church, now a creative space. Credit: Stefanie Scheer Young

Endless creativity at Bloom. Credit: Stefanie Scheer Young

Wonderful photos of old Sag Harbor at Black Swan Antiques. Credit: Stefanie Scheer Young

Sage Street Antiques carries a range of collectibles. Credit: Stefanie Scheer Young

Visit Monc XIII for stylish entertaining wares. Credit: Stefanie Scheer Young

The American Hotel keeps the maritime tradition alive. Credit: Stefanie Scheer Young

Embracing her new role as a Sag Harbor hostess, the new shop has enabled Leede to create a gathering place for trunk shows, books signings, visiting artists and the like. She still has had time for one more acting cameo. Daughter Lucia and son Lionel recently co-wrote and co-produced a short film, casting their mother in the lead role. In the past few months, their film “The Dependents” has been selected for the Paris, Houston and Los Angeles film festivals. Look out for an opportunity to stream the twelve minute feature online at another festival or streaming service soon.

The rejuvenated local theatre. Credit: Stefanie Scheer Young

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