BEAC Mid-August 2016 : Page 60

PROFILE DESIGNS ON EACH OTHER Jennifer Mabley and Austin Handler , two of the East End’s brightest interior design stars, share both an aesthetic and a home. by Bill Schulz When D.C.-born, Manhattan-based interior designer Jennifer Mabley married Austin Handler in 2001, the plan was for him to keep working at advertising firm McCann Erickson while the two started a family in a garden apartment in Brooklyn Heights or Park Slope. The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, at nearly the same time that Mabley designed her mother’s new home in the estate section of Southampton Village, changed all that. Fourteen years, two sons, four dogs, two cats and the purchase of a year-round abode in Water Mill later, the formerly urban-based up-and-comers have become the interior design power couple of beachfront properties and beyond. “It was a gradual leap,” says Handler, who made the transition from graphic to interior design shortly after the two founded Mabley Handler Interior Design in the 18th century barn adjacent to their Head of Pond Road house. “The original plan was I’d freelance from home, handle photography and design the website. But after about a year, we got busier and busier, and I got sucked into Jennifer’s world.” Indeed, the couple’s similar styles pulled Handler from behind the computer screen PERFECT PAIRINGS From top: A living room set in blue hues and wave-inspired wallpaper; Jennifer Mabley and Austin Handler of Mabley Handler Interior Design. 60 | | Food & Affection 2016 PHOTOS BY ERIC STRIFFLER

Beach House Design Profile

Bill Schulz

DESIGNS ON EACH OTHER

Jennifer Mabley and Austin Handler, two of the East End’s brightest interior design stars, share both an aesthetic and a home.

When D.C.-born, Manhattan-based interior designer Jennifer Mabley married Austin Handler in 2001, the plan was for him to keep working at advertising firm McCann Erickson while the two started a family in a garden apartment in Brooklyn Heights or Park Slope. The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, at nearly the same time that Mabley designed her mother’s new home in the estate section of Southampton Village, changed all that. Fourteen years, two sons, four dogs, two cats and the purchase of a year-round abode in Water Mill later, the formerly urban-based up-and-comers have become the interior design power couple of beachfront properties and beyond.

“It was a gradual leap,” says Handler, who made the transition from graphic to interior design shortly after the two founded Mabley Handler Interior Design in the 18th century barn adjacent to their Head of Pond Road house. “The original plan was I’d freelance from home, handle photography and design the website. But after about a year, we got busier and busier, and I got sucked into Jennifer’s world.”

Indeed, the couple’s similar styles pulled Handler from behind the computer screen to squarely in front of million-dollar estates faster than a house-flipper can say “fixer-upper.”

“It’s just such a beautiful place to live,” says Mabley of the benefits of working on their 2. 5-acre property, once owned by famed abstract impressionist Warren Brandt. Although, she admits, “it’s often difficult to separate life from work when you live 15 feet from your studio.”

SENSE AND SENSIBILITIES

The tireless twosome describe their style as “sophisticated beach chic,” using a palette that focuses on nautical blues and other soft hues that always complement the surrounding boat-filled views. And the firm’s personal touches include leaving gifts like customized outdoor margarita bars, fresh hydrangeas from their garden and, on one occasion, a pair of his and hers beach cruiser bicycles.

While the pair obviously won’t name certain celebrity clients, their roster is always eclectic. “We worked for a couple living in Japan who bought a house in the area,” says Handler. “The wife came for one meeting while we were already midway through the property! Almost everything was done via email and phone.”

Mabley Handler is branching out with a small showroom in Florida’s tony Palm Beach, currently in the beginning stages, and an upcoming line of furniture is scheduled for the spring of 2017. Considering their backstory, one can’t help but wonder if there’s a reality show in their future. “We’ve been approached many times,” confirms Handler. “But at the end of the day, privacy rules, and I would never risk our brand.” Adds Mabley: “Or our dignity!”

A FAMILY AFFAIR

Of their two sons, Colin, 12, and Wesley, 9, the couple concur that it’s the latter who will most likely follow in Mom and Dad’s footsteps due to his creativity, opinionated nature and love of a good color scheme. Though finishing grade school is still their first priority: “I don’t see either of them taking over the family business any time soon,” Handler says, smiling.

As for the benefits of being both life and work partners? “The upside is we have very similar aesthetics, and nine times out of ten we pick the same things, whether it be furniture or color schemes,” says Handler. Adds Mabley: “Many people have told us, ‘I could never work with my spouse,’ but it works for us, and we’re very lucky to be our own bosses.” And on the downside? Says Mabley: “We mostly just argue over whose turn it is do the grocery shopping.” mableyhandler.com

“Many people have told us, ‘I could never work with my spouse,’ but it works for us, and we’re very lucky to be our own bosses.”

–Jennifer Mabley

Read the full article at http://digital.modernluxury.com/article/Beach+House+Design+Profile/2554557/327868/article.html.

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