On the north shore of Long Island, Jenna Bush Hager found the perfect summer getaway spot for her family: an airy, light-splashed house steps from the beach with gorgeous harbor views and plenty of room for herself, husband Henry, two-year-old daughter Mila, and in a few months, baby daughter number two. The house provides a much-needed dose of serenity for the grown-ups and lessons for Mila on what constitutes nature. “Growing up in the city, Mila thinks of the outdoors as cement and parks,” says Jenna, who works as a correspondent for the Today show and editor at large for Southern Living magazine.
The only problem: This busy mom now had an entire house to decorate before the summer season started. Enter One Kings Lane stylist Alex Reid, who gave the main living space the full makeover treatment, creating a cheery, welcoming home that’s cozy enough for quiet family time yet gracious enough to entertain a sizable group of adults in beachy, sophisticated style.
Something Old, Something New, Plus Some Bold White and Blue
To create a space that would be fun and functional for a young family, Alex assembled a mix of old and new—a look Jenna felt perfectly at home with. “I have a pretty eclectic style. I’ve been influenced by my mom a lot—she has great taste.” In the mash-up: an antique-y couch covered in one of Sister Parish’s signature Palm Beach-preppy patterns, midcentury-style side tables and slipper chairs (the latter scored by Jenna at a vintage store), and a bright blue-and-white striped dhurrie rug. The palette, a mix of blue, white, tan, and gray, has a decidedly maritime feel. “It’s important to me that a house reflects the landscape it’s in,” says Jenna. “And here there’s sort of a whimsical kind of nautical beach vibe.”
To make the wide-open but modestly sized space as entertaining-friendly as possible, Alex employed a simple trick: He omitted the coffee table. In lieu of the typical symmetrical floor plan (chairs ringing a central coffee table), he created an asymmetrical one using two ottomans (one sisal, one upholstered) and a modern side table to create two distinct conversation areas. “I think that the most important thing about entertaining is that people feel comfortable, that they have a good place to sit and have a great conversation,” says Jenna. “I think Alex has done that for sure.”
Opposite the Sister Parish couch, Alex installed a low daybed that doesn’t block the fantastically long line of windows. “The daybed is one of our favorite places,” says Jenna. “Mila likes to read there or just look out at the view, and for me it’s a great place to take a nap.”
Dinner for Eight—or Two
“Henry loves to grill, and we both love to throw dinner parties, especially in the summer,” says Jenna. To make the space party-ready, Alex brought in a bar cart, which allows guests to help themselves to drinks (and echoes the mirror-and-console vignette across the room). And to the existing dining setup—a marble-top Saarinen Tulip table and Knoll chairs, both midcentury classics—he made an unexpectedly old-fashioned addition in the form of a linen-covered settee. Smaller occasional chairs afford even more seating at the table when necessary, but when it’s just the two of them, Jenna and Henry like to share the settee, which is perfectly positioned to catch the serene harbor view.
Jenna Bush Hager’s Guacamole
4 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted, and diced
¼ to ¾ cup diced red onion
¾ cup seeded and diced Roma tomato
½ cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 to 2 tablespoons diced serrano peppers
Juice of 1 lime
1 clove garlic, mashed
Coarse salt and pepper to taste
Add avocados to a medium bowl, mashing slightly. Add remaining ingredients and stir gently. Taste and adjust seasoning
I love a seated dinner. You always leave the table feeling closer to the people you’re sitting with.