Putting The 'Show' In A Designer Showhouse - 27 East

Real Estate News

Real Estate News / 1405720

Putting The ‘Show’ In A Designer Showhouse

icon 6 Photos
Bryan Siranaula is led to East Hampton Town Justice Court.    JON WINKLER

Bryan Siranaula is led to East Hampton Town Justice Court. JON WINKLER

Movers struggle with a heavy chest of drawers at this year's Hampton Designer Showhouse. STEVEN STOLMAN

Movers struggle with a heavy chest of drawers at this year's Hampton Designer Showhouse. STEVEN STOLMAN

Developer Frank Bodenchak on site at this year's Hampton Designer Showhouse. STEVEN STOLMAN

Developer Frank Bodenchak on site at this year's Hampton Designer Showhouse. STEVEN STOLMAN

Painters apply a final coat to the soaring entrance hall of this year's Hampton Designer Showhouse. STEVEN STOLMn

Painters apply a final coat to the soaring entrance hall of this year's Hampton Designer Showhouse. STEVEN STOLMn

Steven Stolman== 2016 Hampton Designer Showhouse Gala Preview Cocktail Party == 1597 Noyac Path, Sag Harbor, NY== July 23, 2016== ©Patrick McMullan== Photo - Jared Siskin/PMC== ==Steven Stolman

author on Jul 14, 2016

Like dog shows, cat shows and flower shows, designer showhouses have always been a convention of polite society akin to the world of Helen Hokinson’s New Yorker cartoons. Usually mounted by well-meaning matrons for the benefit of a compelling nonprofit organization, they had a structure that was pretty much standard. Organizers would tap their favorite interior designers to each “do” a room of an available empty house, there would be an opening preview gala, admission tickets would be sold, a journal would be printed and maybe there would be a boutique in the home’s garage selling donated decorator castoffs, knickknacks and jellies and jams, all to benefit the deserving recipient.The most renowned of this ilk, New York City’s Kips Bay Decorator Show House, began exactly in this way back in the early 1970s: a group of Park Avenue ladies banding together and just doing it. “It was wonderful,” remembered designer Sandra Nunnerly. “You’d see the DuPont girls in rubber gloves cleaning the loos!”

Now entering its 45th year, the Kips Bay Decorator Show House has evolved into the jewel in the showhouse crown, although it’s been joined by similar efforts in Atlanta (for the Atlanta Symphony), San Francisco (for the University School) and many others. On the East End, the Hampton Designer Showhouse, which now benefits Southampton Hospital, is a perennial fixture. Relative newcomers are Holiday House, an offshoot of the New York City-based organization that benefits the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and the Coastal Living Hamptons Showhouse, which features the work of only one designer but showcases a plethora of manufacturers—a far more blatantly commercial product than a traditional showhouse.

Actually, showhouses are nothing new to the Hamptons. Nearly three decades ago, iconic houses such as “Keewaydin” on Halsey Neck Lane, Ellen and Chuck Scarborough’s “Swan Lawn” and “Red Top Farm” on Wickapogue Road were venues for designer showhouses to benefit the Rogers Memorial Library. The work of décor luminaries such as Gary Crain, Michael DeSantis, Mariette Himes Gomez, Victoria Hagen, Noel Jeffrey and Charlotte Moss was presented to the public amidst great fanfare. There were buoyant opening galas in tents, with seated dinners and dancing, gushingly covered by “The Beachcomber.”

I should know: I was there, laying out toile tablecloths and floral centerpieces with the late Ann Swint, Southampton’s legendary “can-do” gal.

Designer showhouses have come a long way since those charmingly glamorous but decidedly grassroots efforts. Instead of an existing house, showhouses today typically feature new construction and can be an integral part of the developer’s marketing strategy.

“Finding the house is the most challenging part,” admitted Nazira Handal, the petite dynamo who serves as the director of special events and corporate partnerships for the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club. “It is important that we find not only an ideal location, but a beautiful backdrop for our designers,” she said. “This year’s Carlton House Townhouse provided an incomparable blank canvas.”

Indeed, even showhouses mounted by the most distinguished nonprofit organizations will seek major corporate sponsorships and media partners in pursuit of amplifying an undertaking that, in most cases, lasts barely more than a month. For example, Kohler, the global kitchen and bath plumbing fixture company, is providing all seven bathrooms for the upcoming Hampton Designer Showhouse, along with cohosting a dinner for the designers along with presenting sponsor Traditional Home magazine. A number of other design and home building-related companies, such as Pratt & Lambert Paint, Silestone and Circa Lighting, are part of this year’s presentation, along with 27 individual designers or design firms. Shameless self-promoting plug: I will be applying my touch to the small powder room off the foyer.

It is from firsthand experience, therefore, that I can attest that participating in a showhouse is not for the faint of heart nor the frugal. “A budget?” exclaimed the late fashion legend Lilly Pulitzer, “How embarrassing!”

Indeed, one cannot cut corners when building out a showhouse room; for even though it’s a temporary installation, it must endure the scrutiny of a constant parade of onlookers, many of them design professionals. Having served as a lowly docent for several showhouse rooms over the years—it’s called roomsitting—I have overheard some of the nicest people say the nastiest things.

So why do designers do them?

“Showhouses give us a chance to show the interaction of design and construction that can be interpreted in large or small ways by every visitor,” said designer and antiquaire Judy Hadlock, whose firm, Old Town Crossing, has been a frequent participant in the Hampton Designer Showhouse.

They can also act as design laboratories. “I did the big living room in 2003 when it was on Great Plains,” said Alexa Hampton, who continues the design legacy of her late father, the beloved “decorators’ decorator” Mark Hampton. “The furniture that I used became the prototypes for my Hickory Chair line,” she said.

“This will be my second time participating in the Hampton Designer Showhouse,” said Gideon Mendelson, who has also shown at Kips Bay. “It’s such a wonderful event and an even more wonderful cause.”

Tony Manning, the president of the Hampton Designer Showhouse Foundation, said, “Over the past 16 years, the Hampton Designer Showhouse has become one of the most popular events in the Hamptons.” He noted that it was the Hamptons’ first showhouse and now features designers from across the country.

So when the beach stops calling your name, or the golf links have turned their back on you, or you simply want to see something beautiful and be inspired, go visit a showhouse. For the minimal price of a ticket, you’ll leave with a head full of ideas on how to make your own home more livable, more functional or simply more fabulous. Or, it will make you want to move.

You May Also Like:

South Fork Landlords Concerned Eviction Moratorium Is Being Abused

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s moratorium on evictions during the COVID-19 crisis is overlapping with the first summer rental season that landlords are prohibited from collecting rent for a tenant’s entire stay upfront — though whether landlords really cannot get paid in advance is still a matter of debate. Either way, the convergence of the two issues had raised concerns among landlords and brokers alike that laws and executive orders meant to protect renters who are down on their luck can be abused by squatters who have the ability to pay but choose not to. The worry brought about by the state’s ... 26 May 2020 by Brendan J. OReilly

Dune Road Estate In Quogue Sells For Nearly $10 Million

A 2-acre oceanfront estate in the Village of Quogue recently changed hands for $9.85 million, ... by Brendan J. OReilly

Wainscott Residence With Views Of Pond And Ocean Sells For $10.5 Million

A 1.2-acre Wainscott property with a 7,300-square-foot residence that overlooks Wainscott Pond and has ocean views has sold for $10.5 million, according to The Real Estate Report Inc. Built in 1992, the residence at 60 Beach Lane has eight bedrooms and 7.5 bathrooms. The two above-grade levels have a formal dining room, a library, an open kitchen, a dining room and a den. Both the living room and den have double-height ceilings. The finished basement offers a gym, wine cellar and laundry. Also among the amenities are a heated gunite pool and spa. Michael Schultz had the listing for Corcoran. ... 25 May 2020 by Staff Writer

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices To Open Corporate Office On South Fork

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices is opening a corporate office in Noyac on June 1, the first ... 23 May 2020 by Staff Writer

Three-Building Modern Estate In Southampton VIllage Sells For $18 Million

A modern estate in Southampton Village that was completed last year recently sold for $18 million, just $1 million shy of its asking price, according to The Real Estate Report Inc. Three separate structures — a main house, a pool house and a guest house — on 1.9 acres total 9,100 square feet. The main house has five bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms. A double-height living room with a fireplace, a dining area, an eat-in chef’s kitchen and a den are all light-filled through the wall of glass that overlook the backyard. On the lower level, there’s a bar/lounge area, a ... by Staff Writer

CPF Revenue In April Matched Last Year

Community Preservation Fund revenue in April was on par with the same month a year ... by Staff Writer

Toylsome Lane Designer’s Compound Sells For $5.6 Million

A designer’s two-home compound on a half-acre in Southampton Village has sold for $5.6 million. ... 22 May 2020 by Staff Writer

Q&A: Attorney Barbara A. Rasmussen Explains Benefits Of Mortgage Restructing

Barbara A. Rasmussen, Esq., a general practice attorney based in Quogue, has helped many clients ... 19 May 2020 by Brendan J. OReilly

Amagansett Oceanfront Sells For $21 Million

An oceanfront Amagansett property recently changed hands for $21 million, though there is no listing of the property to be found. The address, 189 Marine Boulevard, had been the site of a 2,600-square-foot beach house built in 1941. It last sold in 2016 for $9.95 million, according to Zillow. A 2018 application with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, called for demolishing the existing dwelling, patio, driveway, retaining wall and septic system, in order to build a new residence with new decking, a new sanitary system, a new driveway and a new pool. An existing 1,306-square-foot cottage was ... by Staff Writer

Demand For Hamptons Summer Rentals Has Skyrocketed In Pandemic

The demand for summer rentals in the Hamptons had skyrocketed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ... 18 May 2020 by Brendan J. OReilly
logo

Welcome to our new website!

To see what’s new, click “Start the Tour” to take a tour.

We welcome your feedback. Please click the
“contact/advertise” link in the menu bar to email us.

Start the Tour
Landscape view not supported