Sign up to be the first to hear about Matouk news and events.
← Back to Questions & Answers

10 Questions for Traditional Home’s Tori Mellott—Hamptons Edition

10 Questions for Traditional Home’s Tori Mellott—Hamptons Edition

This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared on July 16, 2014.

Tori Mellott with daughter, Franny, LL Bean Boat & Tote and Kiehl’s Activated Sun Protector Lotion (top right), Kerry Cassill beach umbrellas (bottom right).

Tori Mellott is legendary in the design world for her pitch perfect taste. The Senior Design & Market Editor at Traditional Home got her start in shelter magazines at now-defunct HomeStyle magazine and worked as an assistant to renowned designer Elizabeth Mayhew. But she really made a name for herself as Decoration Editor at Domino, where images of her own apartments zoomed virally through the blogosphere long before the days of Pinterest.

Image 1

A few of Tori’s Essentials: 1) Calm NYC Caftan, 2) Paloma Lantern by Colleen & Company, 3) Kiehl’s Activated Sun Protector Lotion 4) Matouk Abstractions beach towels, 5) LL Bean Boat & Tote, 6) Sunglasses by Matthew Williamson for Linda Farrow 7) Hermes “Happy Families” card game 8) J. Crew Liberty print baby bloomers

Mellott says her signature style motifs are scallops and tole lanterns. “The Paloma lantern (2) by Colleen & Company is one of my favorite all-time accessories because it incorporates both of my loves,” she says. But her style hasn’t always been so classically glamorous.

“When I started as Elizabeth Mayhew’s assistant,” she recalls, “I wanted everything modern.  My dream home was Cameron’s house in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. I loved the idea of minimalism.  I think it was a reaction to the very traditional, flowery, girly house I grew up in. However, Elizabeth said to me, ‘I promise you, your taste will change in one year.’ She was spot-on! I'm loving what I grew up with—Queen Anne chairs, floral chintzes, and striped wallpaper. I think my aesthetic is slightly more masculine (I always love a hit of black or grey), but I've basically turned into my grandmother!”

Grandmother? Not quite. Mother? For sure.  Mellott is mother to identical twin daughters, Franny and Lucy, who are two-and-half-years-old. “They are just the sweetest little angels!” gushes their mama, who is bringing her little darlings with her to the Hamptons this summer. “I was lucky enough to score an invite to stay with a few friends in Montauk this summer. And I was doubly lucky that my girls were invited as well. We just went a few weekends ago  and had the most marvelous time!”

Here, the design-maven-mama answers our 10 pressing questions about Hamptons style.

1) We know you are a beach girl and that the Hamptons is one of your favorite spots. What do you love about the area? 
There is something magical about the Hamptons. I think it's the combination of the high and low that I'm attracted to.  There are farms and then there are multi-billion dollar compounds.  There are perfectly manicured hedges and then there are the rustic sand dunes in Amagansett and Napeague.  There is such a glorious mix of terrain and vegetation.

And for me, there is nothing more cathartic and peaceful than the sand, sun, and ocean.  I know it sounds a little trite, but I truly feel restored after a day at the beach. Oh, and I love being tan—my most dangerous guilty pleasure!

2) How do you think Hamptons beach style differs from other popular beach destinations? 
Well, as much as I don't think people from any town in the Hamptons would ever want to admit this, there is definitely a dress code. Even in Montauk, where everyone claims to be "laid back" and "chill," there is a dress-down dress code. For instance, a person might look silly in Montauk wearing heels and a silk Pucci caftan. However, in Southampton, I think it's the opposite; I find the time I've spent there to be very formal and dressy.

I don't think dress codes are bad. On the contrary! I love the different personalities of each little Hamptons hamlet. I definitely think you don't get that in other beach towns around the country.

3) When it comes to dressing to hit the beach, what are some of your fashion essentials?
A caftan is numero uno! I love something a little ethnic and colorful. Pretty obsessed with this particular little number by Calm NYC (1).

A beach bag is also critical. Every summer, buy a cute, trendy beach bag, but by week two, I inevitably end up back in the arms of my LL Bean Boat & Tote (5).  They are classic, functional, good-looking, hard-wearing—basically, perfect. The large open-top is the best one. And they've started making them in such fun colors; it's a total lay-up.

Finally, shades. I’m such a creature of habit. I’m the person who, if I find one thing on a menu I like, I’ll order it for the rest of my life. I’m the same with sunglasses. I’ve been wearing aviators for about 15 years now.  I can't quit!  However, these pink beauties (6) by Matthew Williamson for Linda Farrow are a wacky spin on a classic.

4) What will we invariably find in your beach bag?
For me, the beach is a time to make like a peacock and flaunt your style! My style is linked to color—the more, the better! I do not like neutrals. These Matouk Abstractions (4) beach towels are fantastic. Almost like artwork to go!

I hate to admit it, but I'm not one of those women who can "curl up" at the beach with a book.  I need to be yapping, gabbing, talking, and interacting—that is why a board game or playing cards is a must in my perfect beach world. This card game (7) is really interesting game, and it doesn't hurt that it's from Hermes!

5) What about your daughters? What are their must-haves?
I don't want my little dumplings to end up like their Hawaiian- Tropic- abusing Mama, so I am vigilant about sunscreen. I've found that Kiehl’s (3) is the best for my little treasures’ super-sensitive baby skin.

In my opinion, there is nothing cuter than little babies in bloomers on the beach. I found these adorable Liberty print bathing bloomers from J. Crew (8).

Little ones can overheat easily; that's why a chic beach umbrella is crucial.  I love these ones from Kerry Cassill (11). A great price and an extra layer of beach chic-ness!Blog

More of Tori’s Essentials: 9) Matouk Salinas throws 10) Matouk Waffle robe 11) Kerry Cassill beach umbrellas 12) Rosebud Salve lip balm 13) McKinnon & Harris settee 14) Hello Kitty popsicles 15) Daniel Green Women’s Slippers 16) Jonathan Adler Mykonos ice bucket

6) What about apres beach?
I'm very ‘Magda’ from the movie There's Something About Mary. Nothing makes me happier than loungewear! If I could go to work in cashmere sweats and these gold grandma slippers (15) (which I actually own), nothing would make me happier.

My dream beach scenario is to sashay out of the outdoor showers with a tiny bit of sunburn and wrap myself up in a robe (like the Waffle (10) from Matouk) and slip on my golden slippers!

7) Favorite beachy drink or snack?
One wonderful thing about the beach is that I have little appetite for heavy lunches or dinners. I usually crave fruit and veggies. However, the sun can really take it out of you, so it's important to hydrate. It's obviously not a substitute for good ol' H2O, but my girls and I are loving these Hello Kitty popsicles (14). Bonus: fat free!

On the other end of the spectrum, I can't tell you how many people I know who still have formal drinks at 5PM while at the beach. Some families even require a jacket for the boys! (Poor things.) For me, there is nothing more refreshing that an ice-cold white wine spritzer (I'm a total lightweight).  This Jonathan Adler ice bucket (16) is the perfect little vessel for cooling down your favorite spirit.

8) Your no-fail hostess gift for a Hamptons weekend?
One very deceiving thing about the Hamptons (as with most beaches in the Northeast) is that it gets remarkably chilly at night! I find I'm always in need of another blanket!  These beautiful Matouk Salinas throw (9) would be the perfect addition to any beach cottage! I promise you would have one happy hostess on your hands if you brought one of these gorgeous blankets as a hostess gift!

9) In your opinion, every Hamptons beach house should have a …?
When you're at a beach house, I find that you spend the majority of your time outdoors.  Great-looking, handsome, well-made, and comfortable outdoor furniture is key. I love this settee from McKinnon & Harris (13).

10) So we’ve covered fashion, beauty, design and even kids! What’s left? Your favorite beauty item for the beach…?
I hope nobody judges me for this next comment, but I sort of love not showering at the beach! Maybe a quick rinse-off in the outdoor shower, but I love my hair when it's a little sandy and tousled!  I don't like anything too be too complicated or perfect. I do find I am always digging for lip balm. This classic lip balm lasts forever and smells delicious—just like the perfect Hamptons garden!