"You know the one regret I do have?" Mary asked over lobster rolls at Silver's.


It's a Monday afternoon in Southampton, when the streets empty of weekenders and quiet returns once again. We're on the last leg of summer vacation, and there's a legend in town. She might not be famous in everyone's eyes, but she is to me. She's Mary Emmerling—best-selling author, pioneering designer and former creative director of the late, great Country Home.


After all, it was on these pages that I landed my first freelance styling job in 2004.  


But what most people don't know is that for many years, Mary had been quietly reinventing American country style until the mid 80s, when her passion for collecting and homespun crafts finally caught on. Here's an issue of House Beautiful from 1984, heralding the new spirit of country.


And inside, leading the way, stands a stalwart Mary Emmerling, poised at the picket fence of her Bridgehampton house and adorned, as always, in turquoise.


Here's a look inside the house with a cleaner, more modern style of American country not yet seen. 


Mind you, she was collecting and displaying antique quilts and baskets well before anyone else did, even her.


Did you know the two of them once worked together at House Beautiful? You can just imagine the stories of a younger, no less innocent Martha told over wine at lunch. And even though she may have gone on to become, well, Martha, Mary has no regrets.  


On second thought, maybe just one.  


"It's that I should have just collected fringe from the start."