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Mix Masters

Two Greenwich-based designers put an eclectic spin on seaside style



Fans of the Ocean House in salty Watch Hill, Rhode Island, make haste to this spectacular historical inn to enjoy the tranquil vistas of the Atlantic Ocean, but thanks to the work of two Greenwich-based designers, the interior scene now vies for equal attention.

Betsey Ruprecht of Betsey Ruprecht Decorative Antiques and Samantha Knapp of Tiger Lily’s put their creative heads together to decorate one of the twenty-three condominium residences on the property. The result: an elegant waterfront retreat that defines high style by the sea. The dynamic duo recently introduced their work during a showhouse tour attended by some 200 guests, an event that benefited the W.A.R.M Center of Westerly, Rhode Island. The Ruprecht-Knapp residence is one of four condos recently made over by four top designers.

This is the first major collaboration between the two style-savvy pros. Betsey is an expert antiques dealer who began her career at Sotheby’s in 1979, where her husband now serves as CEO, and went on to start her own business in 1988. Samantha honed her mastery of fabrics and textiles at Tiger Lily’s, her family’s design studio and workroom. In their Ocean House residence, custom furnishings and contemporary art are coupled with beautiful mid-century antiques in a masterful mix. “We wanted the water, sand and sailing to dictate the design,” says Bestsey. “We chose materials and colors that reflect the outdoors without being too predictable.”

In addition to her work with Betsey, Samantha decorated a studio-space at Ocean House. Her solo effort was very well received, as hers was the first of the four residences sold. “I’d describe the décor as Baja chic,” she says. “The space has a lot of positive energy.” She’s particularly proud of what she calls the eco-friendly design employed in the 1,288-square-foot space. The kitchen-counter, for instance, was made of two antique barn doors that Samantha found some time ago and had stored in her garage. “Now they have a new purpose in a new space,” she says.

“They look right at the Ocean House, where views of the beach get you thinking about preservation.”

In both Ocean House residences, the pair achieved their goal to create comfortable living spaces that are stylish without being fussy. “That’s the atmosphere I think you’d want in a vacation home,” says Betsey. “Here, you really can imagine yourself sitting down in your bathing suit.”

Ocean House is the storied, 136-year-old landmark building that was slated for the wrecking ball back in 2003. Then Chuck Royce of Greenwich became the driving force behind a $146 million restoration project financed though the company he helped form, Bluff Avenue. Today, the stunning five-star hotel features forty-nine guestrooms plus the twenty-three private residences.

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