Monday, November 11, 2013


In the great tradition established by Mr. Albert Hadley, Rooms With a View, the annual show house in Southport, Connecticut was held this past fall weekend.  With interior designer Thom Filicia continuing  the legacy as Honorary Chairman, the vignettes were innovative and varied. The charity event, in its 19th year, benefits the Southport Congregational Church and poses somewhat of a design challenge to the interior designers that participate. 12 diminutive 5x8 spaces are the blank canvas from which designers create a vision. The theme this year, Americanism: Timely and Timeless Design, represents the place where American meets Modernism.  Each designer approached the theme differently, the highly original results of which can be seen below. In addition to the designer vignettes, much of Fairfield County gathered  at the church for book signings with Mario Buatta, Thom Filicia, Rhonda Eleish and Edie van Breems and James Magni and shopping at a marketplace fair with 40 creative vendors to kick start the holidays.

Photos courtesy of Stacy Bass Photography
New York-based interior designer Bryant Keller tapped a melting pot of cultures in sooting neutral tones. Moroccan rugs, a British Cabinet and table from India lived together with modern grey upholstery.

Combining unique pieces from his just-opened Sedgewick and Brattle Showroom in the New York Design Center, Thom Filicia mixed textures, diverse artwork and American themes. Cozy and tailored, the space mixes unique large and small scale pieces.

One of the fun things about this years participants is that I have known many of them a long, long time. Having grown up in Southport, it was a wonderful opportunity to catch up with many familiar faces. Claudia Ruger and her daughter Amy Ruger Whitely created an homage to Frances Elkins, including a console and loop chairs of her design and a classic black and white patterned floor. They layered in French crystal sconces, a wonderful ornate 1940's American Hollywood Regency mirror and framed silver wallpaper panels with flying Cranes.

Chickie and Amy Ruger in front of silver wallpaper panels.

The glamour continued in the neighboring vignette by Lynne Scalo, who was inspired by 1940's abstract expressionism and multiculturalism. Abstract black and white canvases provided the focal point, while black walls and gold touches added to the dramatic space.

Nancy Corbett, part of Corbett Wright, made their debut with custom furnishings that provide office essentials with high design. A modernized Chinese Chippendale secretary, in serene blue and white, complete with Chinoiserie panels opens up to reveal a mini office space, complete with cord management for tech devices. Two configured file cabinets covered in the same glossy printed Chinoiserie panels can serve as end tables with hidden file storage. I have been saying there is a Return to Pretty happening, and here it is, again.

Thom led a designer walk-through of the vignettes before the gala dinner on Saturday night.

More glamour! Designer Tiffany Eastman used mixed metals and textured surfaces in her den. Perfect for a cigar-toting big wig, the cozy setting exudes sparkly sophistication, sputnik chandelier and all.

Steven Gambel's ode to Americanism focused on the coming to America with European spoils. A grand carved Italian mirror is hung on Italian printed marbleized end papers in a patchwork pattern on the walls, abstract art and a collage showing European Grand Tour buildings added to the escapist setting.

I do not have a dog but if I did, I am sure I would be as in love with it as New York-based designer Tori Vought is with hers. Since dogs are essentially important members of the family, she created a room that would make them feel at home, complete with a fancy brass dog food dispenser that was originally for coffee beans, and places for dog Bailey and owner to sit and relax. Pale Swedish colors tied the space together. Tori is another friend I have known forever, and I loved seeing her creative vision in action.

Glorious fall arrangements by the uber talented Fairfield-raised Marna Ringel of Flowers by Marna.

Since Soutport is right on the Long Island Sound, the color blue is always appealing. Francine Murnane's space, a bedroom for a wee one, was fresh American with stripes aplenty and clean lined furnishings.

Architectural details and interiors come together beautifully in the Wadia Associates sitting room created by Saranda Berisa.  A fellow Aries, I discovered, she included pops of orange in a well-thought out space with intricate mill work details, a fully realized fireplace with a fun touch-- a digitally printed flame scrim, flanked by oculus windows.

Teal is a color that has really hit its stride. Carolyn Kron and Tricia Izzo of Shelter Interiors used the color on the walls of their homage to Ernest Hemingway's Key West retreat. In keeping with the relaxed vibe, they upholstered chairs in creative ways including indigo textiles from Luru, a company I love that happens to be their neighbor up in Milford, Connecticut.

In a distinctly American setting with orange walls, a striped canvas painted rug and neo-Windsor chairs, Last Detail Interior Design's Carey Karlan created a game room. The ability to unplug and play Scrabble, alongside crisp fresh pieces-- a turned wood table in bright orange from Dunes and Duchess, Oomph's octagonal mirror and framed puzzle pieces-- what could be more American than game night?


Anonymous said...

Amazing coverage! What beautiful spaces!

Capella Kincheloe Interior Design said...

I find this type of show house much more interesting than those that use an actual home. It must be because you know exactly where the designers began and see the transformation and creativity in each of their very unique vignettes. Beautiful! What Saranda Berisa created in that small space is nothing short of amazing!