Robert McKinley’s name has become synonymous with chilled-out, coastal boutique hotels that channel the idyllic vibes of yesteryear. One such is Hotel Joaquin, a just-opened seaside retreat in Laguna Beach, which abounds with outdoor terraces, Pacific Ocean views, and rustic attributes that evoke the Mediterranean coastline. Another is the Surf Lodge, a Montauk favorite that frequently plays host to A-list musical talent. (Willow Smith, Lykke Li, and Matt & Kim count themselves among recent performers.)
Now, the New York–based interior designer has unveiled his second McKinley Bungalow, a shoppable residence located within a quaint Montauk neighborhood five minutes from the popular Ditch Plains beach. The 2,400-square-foot, Ranch-style home unites the studio’s favorite products under one roof—and, of course, shares them with guests. Furniture, linens, housewares, finishes, and appliances from brands such as Blu Dot, HAY, and SONOS, among others intermingle with carefully selected vintage furnishings and artworks to imbue the bungalow with the laid-back sensibilities which have come to define his practice.
The results are laid-back, indeed. “The original state of the house was very basic,” McKinley says. “It was a perfect canvas for our minds to run wild and our dream beach retreat to become a reality.” After he opened up the interior to create a seamless flow from living room to patio, he installed a series of large Noguchi paper lanterns that float cloud-like within the home’s high-vaulted ceilings. These interventions, along with a mix of contemporary and vintage pieces, conjure the stillness of Montauk’s salt-weathered coastline and the ambience of European seaside villages—an alchemy achieved by Moroccan-style daybeds, rattan chairs, and vintage ceramics and rugs. The library, meanwhile, is awash in cool, palm green hues that evoke a distant rainforest. “There’s a sense of inspiration and discovery,” he says, nodding to the native flora planted throughout.
The bungalow could perhaps be seen as a departure from his studio’s tried-and-true formula, but it feels more like a clever response from a shrewd designer well-versed in shifting hospitality trends. (It’s no question that travelers have recently warmed to more intimate, personalized experiences, which speaks to the surge in popularity of home-sharing apps like Airbnb.) It seems that crafting the bungalow, which is more modest in scale than his regular hospitality projects, put forth a healthy design challenge that he passed with flying colors. “I’ve spent much of my career creating hospitality spaces, but the bungalow speaks to the way we travel now,” he says. “This feels very much like a dream home.”
Below, McKinley reflects on a few of the featured brands.
“Heath Ceramics is a contemporary American brand that has been setting the benchmark for ceramic quality for more than 70 years. They’ve inspired us for so long and we’re excited to have them part of the Bungalow.”
“Sonos makes home audio simple, clean, and cool—not to mention, the sound is great. The way they tie together all your audio sources into one place is genius. They make the perfect audio vibe possible and complete every mood.”