Designer Spotlight

Timothy Godbold Brings Military Precision to Hamptons Interior Design

Google Timothy Godbold and you’ll find two very different people: one a Long Island–based interior designer, the other the author of a book about the influence of military uniforms on fashion. Turns out they’re the same Australian-born Jack-of-all-trades. After he moved from Manhattan to the Hamptons in 2012, he had nothing to do at night, Godbold explains. So, why not write a book? The topic was something he’d been thinking about for years. The grandson of a general, he was steeped in military culture as a boy. Then, in his teens, “I saw Adam Ant in his hussar jacket,” he recalls, “and bands like Duran Duran in military-inspired suits.” Fascinated by the cultural crossover, he took notes, and in 2016 Phaidon published his lavishly illustrated volume, Military Style Invades Fashion.

Timothy Godbold
Timothy Godbold (portrait by Guillaume Gaudet). Top: In this Palo Alto dining room, Godbold surrounded the homeowners’ molded leather chairs with a table from Jayson Home, all sitting on a Rosemary Hallgarten rug. Ceramic pieces by Heather Rosenman from Lawson-Fenning are displayed on the sideboard (photo by Jose Manuel Alorda).

What does that have to do with Godbold’s day job? As the designer of high-end interiors, Godbold isn’t making bedrooms look like barracks or dining rooms imitate mess halls. Still, he perceives a military influence in everything he does. For one thing, Godbold designs almost entirely in neutrals — a parade of grays and beiges and khakis that, he says, recalls “the French Foreign Legion in those old movies with Gary Cooper.” And there’s a discipline to his work that helps him please clients, most of whom are married couples. “The wives hire me, but the husbands end up happy — I think because the rooms are very masculine.”

Timothy Godbold living room
“I was thinking eighties California organic modern,” Goldbold says, describing his inspiration for the Palo Alto family room. The travertine table is from Pavilion Antiques, and the 1980s tall white pillar light is from Vintage Murano Gallery. The Stephane Ducatteau steel and concrete Galets are from Decoratum. Photo by Jose Manuel Alorda

Whatever the origins of his Desert Storm palette, it works. “Colors can become dated quickly, but black and white and beige are timeless,” he says, adding that he avoids rooms that are overdone, “like a decorator spent too long at the swatch bar.”

Godbold doesn’t spend too long on anything. He prides himself on moving quickly — renovating large houses in as little as three months. It helps that he buys a lot of what he needs online. “I literally hang out on 1stdibs at night,” he says. One of his current projects, for which he is stockpiling black-and-white furniture, is in Palm Beach: “It’s an eighties travertine colossus, and we’re going to turn it into something special.”

Godbold has gotten work through 1stdibs. A California couple found him on the site and asked him to renovate their 9,000-square-foot house in Palo Alto. Godbold placed molded leather dining chairs, which the clients already owned, to great effect around a vintage walnut and steel table, which sits on a speckled Rosemary Hallgarten rug amid white-painted walls. The family room is done in beiges and taupes and grays, with seating arranged along a circa 1970 French travertine coffee table and a trio of Galets (small, organically shaped tables) that Godbold purchased on 1stdibs.

Timothy Godbold living room near pool
In the living room, Godbold paired the B&B Italia sofa with a coffee table/daybed of his own design, over which hangs a Serge Mouille chandelier. “I was working in a very traditional confine, so I kept the space monochromatic,” he says. Photo by Jose Manuel Alorda

In place of vivid colors, Godbold turned to vivid shapes, deploying pieces with strong outlines, like the many-legged taboret table by Lawson-Fenning. Multiple narrow legs also appear in a console table designed by Godbold, its arches echoing one of his favorite buildings, the so-called square colosseum (now Fendi’s headquarters) in Rome. The living room is a bit darker and a bit more formal, with khaki walls and tufted sofas facing each other across a giant tufted ottoman-settee, a Godbold design in walnut and mohair velvet.

Timothy Godbold Interiors
1 / 10
Timothy Godbold Interiors
Timothy Godbold Bridgehampton kitchen

In the Palo Alto kitchen, the light above the island and the sconces on the back wall are by Allied Maker. Photo by Jose Manuel Alorda

Timothy Godbold Bridgehampton bathroom

Inspired by Miró and Picasso, Godbold painted a girl’s face inside the tub. The floor tile is mixed Nero Marquina and Carrara marble. Photo by Jose Manuel Alorda

Timothy Godbold

This Sag Harbor, New York, living room features Milo Baughman chairs that were purchased from the Atlanta set of the film Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and reupholstered. The marble coffee table is a custom piece, as is the 11-foot-long dining bench. Photo by Rikki Snyder

Timothy Godbold

A longhorn skull from Texas is mounted on the oak planked wall above the bed in the master suite. A reading nook in the corner holds an Arne Norell Inca chair from Studio Designboard and a mid-century modern table. Photo by Rikki Snyder

Timothy Godbold

By styling this 1961 Amma cabinet with a mix of items that share the same limited palette, Godbold gave it a cohesive look. Photo by Rikki Snyder

Timothy Godbold

Godbold outfitted this bathroom with custom floating cabinets holding bamboo sinks. The walls have a concrete finish. Photo by Rikki Snyder

Timothy Godbold

This bedroom reading nook features a 1960s Swedish chair topped with a sheepskin throw.
Photo by Rikki Snyder

Timothy Godbold

With its light palette and 16-foot ceiling, this Bridgehampton, New York, kitchen serves as an airy family gathering space. The chairs are Milo Baughman, and the coffee tables are by Patricia Urquiola for B&B Italia. Photo by Alec Hemer

Timothy Godbold

In the Bridgehampton family room, Mogens Lassen Tired Man chairs are paired with a Franco Albini ottoman. Photo by Alec Hemer

Timothy Godbold

This Bridgehampton bedroom features a Serge Mouille light fixture, a B&B Italia bed and a Charlotte Perriand stool. Photo by Alec Hemer

Godbold stripped the kitchen both physically — removing all the upper cabinets, which “create shadows and close off the space” — and visually, sticking with white tiles and white and gray woodwork. But in another room he added bit of Joan Miró-esque whimsy: After ruminating for years on a picture he saw in a magazine, he decided to paint a girl’s face in the couple’s bathtub. “I was in the tub with a paintbrush, not knowing if it would look cool. But I’m not afraid to fail.” Indeed, he says, “I like to be scared when I’m designing. There’s got to be a certain element of uncertainty. If not, I haven’t tried hard enough.”

Timothy Godbold entryway
The entryway of a Bridgehampton, New York, home features a custom tripled version of Lindsey Adelman’s Knotty Bubbles chandelier. Photo by Jose Manuel Alorda

Godbold grew up in the 1970s in Kalamunda, a small town in Western Australia. He escaped the isolation by watching movies and then escaped for real when he moved to London and, later, New York, in both cases to work for Ralph Lauren. In 2009, he started a women’s fashion line. “It was fun,” he says, “until it wasn’t.” In 2012, he went out to Long Island for Memorial Day weekend and never left. “I had an epiphany,” he says. “I realized I could have a new career.” The builder of the Sag Harbor interiors store Monc XIII, where he worked for a time, offered him his first interior design job: doing a whole house on a $100,000 budget.

To save money, Godbold drew on his experience designing clothing. “I bought a lot of upholstered pieces that no one wanted, because I knew I could do a lot with fabrics,” he says. He had a Swedish chair in an “ugly brown floral” recovered in Italian suede and linen — not contrasting colors, but contrasting textures.

The client was happy, and Godbold realized that he liked interior design. As a fashion designer, he says, he had to please a crowd, but as an interior designer he only has to please one client at a time. That makes his new vocation more creative — and more fun — than he expected.

Timothy Godbold living area
Godbold created multiple seating areas in the large room encompassing the Bridgehamptom home’s living, dining and entertainment spaces. The sofas are from Cassina, the tables are vintage Florence Knoll from Space Modern, and the 1980s cube oak chairs are from LAAMode; the light is by Moooi. An Ettore Sotsass bowl is displayed on the credenza. Photo by Alec Hemer

Soon he was doing bigger jobs: The owner of a newish Hamptons house asked him to turn the nursery into a home gym. One thing led to another (surprise!), and soon Godbold was redoing every one of the house’s 12,000 square feet. His favorite room is the foyer, so generously proportioned that he put a dining table in the middle of it. “I’m not afraid to go big,” he says.

Timothy Godbold dining area
Godbold designed the dining room to double as a space where the homeowners could host guests and conduct meetings while in the Hamptons. An Ingo Maurer light hangs over a BDDW table, which is surrounded by Zanotta Eva chairs. The artwork is by Mary Weatherford. Photo by Alec Hemer

That’s true of his personality, as well. “I’m not a pocket-square-wearing designer,” says Godbold, whose nine tattoos include his name scrawled across his chest and serpents and Viking symbols on his arms. “I’m a big guy, solid and confident, and I use my physical presence to get what I want. I’m quite forthright. My former clients always tell my new clients, ‘Just let Tim do it. You’re going to love it.’ ”

In 2015, Godbold began undergoing cancer treatments, which kept him from designing for more than a year. Now, he’s cured and “revving up again.” But he doesn’t plan to add employees to his three-person firm (not including three freelancers). He wants to keep overhead down so he can choose his clients and not have to say yes to every job. He isn’t lonely in the tiny office, in part, he says, because he’s made friends with dealers on 1stdibs. Two of his favorites are Nick Batchelder, of Archive 20th Century, in Costa Mesa, California, and Cécile Romein, of Morentz, in the Netherlands, both of whom have sold him vintage pieces by the Swiss architect Mario Botta.

He has no plans to write another book (although he hopes to write a screenplay one day). He does, however, present clients with a “book” on move-in day. Each contains pictures of how everything should look — even table settings — and instructions on care and maintenance (even on watering the house plants). Controlling?

“I do act like a bit of a general,” Godbold jokes, perhaps thinking of his grandfather. “But the clients appreciate it, and we share a lot of laughs.”

 

Timothy Godbold’s Quick Picks

“The proportions inspire me, and plaster finishes remind me of organic architecture from France and Italy in the seventies.”

“I am obsessed with Mario Botta and have been buying his pieces through 1stdibs of late. This lamp is impressive on many counts, not least its height and presence in a room.”

“The clean lines mixed with steel and the proportions make this an ideal chair for a smaller apartment.”

“I feel these are underappreciated. They have great lines, and I see floor-up lighting making a comeback shortly.”

“What can you say? This took my breath away when I first saw it. I didn’t know if I loved it or hated it, but it gave me an emotion, which is always key.”

“Handsome, classic and timeless — this piece will never look dated or go out of style.”

“The screen offers versatility, which is great for a space you are not quite sure what to do with.”

Loading next story…

No more stories to load; check out The Study.

No more stories to load; check out The Study.