Tucked away at the end of Madison Street in the hamlet of Sag Harbor is the house that Natasha Esch built.
A renovated historic beauty, it’s where she and her partner (and husband) Matt Coffin created and run MONC XIII – a year-old killer stylish design store where meticulously curated vintage and contemporary furniture and accessories live side-by-side in an inviting and inspiring environment. It is truly a Rough Luxe experience.
When Esch, the former president of Wilhelmina models and more recently an LA-based interior designer, decided to pick up stakes and move east her first act was to purchase a suitable building and begin renovating right away. The finished product is a result of her collaboration with architect Martin Sosa and builder Tom O’Donoghue. The 2700 square foot space is very similar to a modified barn design I sketched last year when we started thinking about building a cottage in Southampton.
Details such as antique-inspired Bendheim glass windows and salvaged brick help to make the space feel modern yet classic.
Vintage European lighting hangs from rough-hewn ceiling beams. The lighted bookcase was made from reclaimed barn wood.
Esch has created small intimate areas within the great room that is the mainstay of the store.
Tables are filled with books about style and design.
Common objects are displayed in creative, unique ways encouraging customers to think differently about their favorite things.
Linens flank a barn door.
The burnished-steel spiral staircase that leads to a loft filled with vintage books and leather goods was designed specifically for the space.
“It’s definitely my vision of design: old but modern, a mix of periods, all within a very traditional structure,” she told Architectural Digest.
The day I was there this long table at the front of the store was set in a similar way as this photograph, with a mix of vintage and new Hermes Limoges, Bernardaud porcelain and mid-century Sottsass ceramics positioned next to contemporaryÂ Kelly Wearstler candlesticks (Sottsass is one of Wearstler’s favorite designers and architects.)
I love that she upholstered these mid-century Italian chairs. By doing so she has made them an active part of the room and is underscoring that their beauty is also in their function as they are meant to be graced by someone’s bottom who is reading or discussing or arguing or resting rather than being simply observed or coveted.Â Last year a friend showed me a mid-century photograph taken in the apartment of a well-known art collector of the time. Rooms were filled with worn leather couches, every inch of wall space covered with Pollocks and Rothkos, de Koonings and Miros, because the owner knew that art is most powerful when it is part of a living, vibrant environment.
Esch wants MONC XIII to be a gathering place where family and friends and lovers of design can come together and be inspired. I think I responded so strongly because by placing expensive and inexpensive items together she reminded me that living well is about recognizing that the great beauty and power of objects is not in our reverence for them, rather in our ability to integrate them into our everyday lives. While standing alone in that store I was suddenly reminded of something William Morris said long ago, “Have nothing in your house you do not consider to be useful or beautiful.”