The train to Amagasett takes about two hours from Manhattan. Athena had shown me photos of the house a few weeks earlier – the place looked amazing – and rather than shoot at her apartment in Dumbo we decided to trek out to the Island. The train is always a bit like traveling, we like to say in Belgium… And I, for one, never say no to some fresh air. She bought the house about two and a half years ago when it was “literally a shack engulfed by trees that hadn’t been trimmed in forty years and falling apart! The roof was caving in and there were bulbs of mold growing throughout the house.” It took a good year to finish the renovations and decorating but it would turn out to be Athena Calderone’s chef d’oeuvre, the master project to measure all projects. “My home in Amagansett really reflects my style,” she says. “I love clean, modern lines but it needs to be roughed up with industrial antiques, hewed wood and ecclectic oddities and then warmed up with rich textures and textiles. I always incorporate some classic pieces like vintage Danish and Scandenevian. I don’t think there is any set rule in design.”
I met Athena at an art gallery dinner a few months ago. She’s a striking, tall woman with jet-black bangs, lean legs and an elegance that borders bold sexiness. She tells me about her husband Victor who is “a progressive tech house DJ” and her son Jivan, whose hindi name means “to give life”. She loves cooking almost as much as she does interior decorating and recently started to write a blog to share her two passions with friends and well, “anyone who wants to read it”. Her personal style is an amalgam of involuntary extremes. Her mood either sets off a feminine, girlie look, made up of Edwardian lace and vintage tea dresses or a severe, hard look that begins and ends with something black, revealing and sexy. She’s soft spoken and good natured, a bit shy even, she claims, which makes all this creativity matter even more.
It’s cold in Amagansett – there’s a harsh, chilling wind whistling around the house – but the sun beams charge mightily through every bit of glass and window. Athena’s friend Leilani has been watching the kids, two 9-year old boisterous – in a good way – boys who, she claims, “are making pasta in the bathroom sink!” Jivan’s been watching and assisting his mom in the kitchen from a very young age. “He makes a mean pesto!” she claims proudly. Athena’s used to Victor not being around on weekends “but it got challenging once we bought the house in Amagansatt and I started meeting new friends who would come out only on weekends. They would always arrive just as he’s leaving, which is a bummer,” she sighs. Athena turns out to be an outstanding model. She guides me through her closet and poses remarkably swift and relaxed – no shy girl here! Tonight we are cooking dinner and watching the Golden Globes. Guess who Athena voted for? She’s a shy girl with a black dress on….