by Marisa Marcantonio

My designer friends are hard at work on their vignettes for Rooms With A View, the wonderful annual display of design at the Southport Congregational Church in Southport, CT. My hometown! Thom Filicia is the Honorary Chairman, and this year's theme is Design on A Shoestring, honoring the creation of the late, great Albert Hadley. In its 18th year, is always a display of enormous creativity, as 5x8 booths are transformed into designed spaces. The Gala event has been moved to Friday, November 2, at 6:30pm and the show goes on.
Come and visit the installations open to the public 10:00 am until 5:00pm November 2-3, and from 11:00-5:00 November 4th created by:

Bachman Brown 
Allison Caccoma 
Topher Carnes with Rebecca Soskin 
Lynde Easterlin 
Lynn Ehrlich 
Jack Franzen, Ann Franzen, Katrina Franzen, Jody Foote - J.P. Franzen Architects 
Jennifer Gresinger
 Ryan Humphrey 
John Murphy 
Paola Salinas 
Kelley Schutte 
Sean Michael Waters


by Marisa Marcantonio

It was the best year ever! Early in November, Rooms with a View honored Albert Hadley, with 12 designer vignettes created by those that have gone on to great success after being mentored by the design icon. Hints of red, round mirrors, animals and etageres play a role in the spaces, as an homage to Hadley's favorite homey and welcoming design elements. The annual showhouse, located at The Southport Congregational Church, brought out the design cognescenti from near and far, who came to see the exceptional rooms created by leading designers who have gone on to run their own successful firms.

Bunny Williams worked with Mr. Hadley for 22 years since the days of Parish Hadley.

An homage to Hadley's New York apartment, Bunny used a round table from her Beeline Collection and hanging pendant light. Check out the french doors with an image of Mr. Hadley in his Southport garden circa 1990.

Her Bee Line Collection pieces make the small space a relaxing room.

A gorgeous gold gourd made by Christopher Spitzmiller sits next to sentimental photos, and stacks of books.

Bunny's favorite books, a bar and objects fill an etagere surrounded by framed art.

Genius! Bunny made a shelf of an etagere an instant bar.

Pamela Banker worked at Parish Hadley in in 1995, staying for 5 years. She and her team created a red office with a signature etagere, round mirror and workable desk and painted zebra canvas rug.

This antique mirror is fantastic, a round mirror is de regeur for a Hadley interior.

An Albert Hadley designed lamp from Christopher Spitzmiller in silver glaze illuminates the work space.

David Easton strikes a pose. After a year with Hadley he went out on his own. He is in the midst of a twenty stop book tour promoting his new book, Elegant Interiors

David Easton's office setting included a desk from his collection and Safaveih rug he designed. A Moroccan hanging lamp adds an unexpected twist.

Beautifully engineered shelving hold models of homes he has designed.

The back wall is made of a painted cork board displaying architectural renderings.

David brought desk accessories from home and a lamp from his Robert Abbey collection.

Thom Filicia worked for the firm from 1992-1993. Here he is, standing in front of his fantastic electric yellow vignette.

Bold yellow stried walls play off a French blue table and blue ceramic lamp. A bulls - eye canvas makes a great focal point, and the circle motif is carried through in the console below.

An ebony hexagonal mirror ties the seating area together.

The coffee table holds two things Mr. Hadley always included-- a bowl of quarters and a pair of dogs.

Michael Whaley, who began his career at the firm, created a serene spot in taupe and cream. Elegant sconces frame the settee, covered in satin.

A slipper chair -- always present in a Hadley room.

Libby Cameron created an office with tried and true Hadley touches. covered walls in "Desmond", a black and white Sister Parish Design. In a nod to a favorite animal of Hadley's, wise owls dot the vignette. Libby filled me in on her time there. "I got a month long internship in the fall of 1982, I was then hired full time shortly thereafter in 1983 to be Albert's assistant. I first started working with him on the restoration of Gracie Mansion. I had the most wonderful, magical experience at Parish-Hadley during my fourteen years there-I learned so much and saw so much, I am eternally grateful. I left Parish-Hadley in the fall of 1995 after my daughter Clara was born, and put out my own shingle. Albert taught me the importance of details, and always stressed that everything had to be finished properly and have a finished edge, that welts could not be big, that everything had to be subtle and made to look like it was done by a dressmaker. Albert always referred to rooms having skylines, which is an image I always carry with me. One's eye should be able to travel around a room, up and down, and not have everything be at one level. Objects, furniture and paintings all at different levels create interest and intrigue-which is what makes a room work."

A bright glazed Christopher Spitzmiller lamp sits on a green desk. A clipboard holding a notepad with drawings and Do Not Forget notepad were ever present on Hadley's own desk.

A charming bookcase with bone inlay holds books featuring Parish Hadley work.

Rarely seen without a pencil in hand, Hadley was constantly sketching. Seventeen drawings done by him are hanging from Libby's personal collection.

David Kleinberg got his start at Parish Hadley in 1981. His area incorporated neutrals. Stripes carried over from the walls, to table skirt and floor design.

A Swedish L-shaped bench tucks in perfectly behind a round table, making the most of the allotted space.

The etagere again!

A glam floor of gold and white stripes.

Harry Heissmann, in his fantastic space. Harry was with Hadley from 2000-2009. He shared, "Albert taught me not to be afraid to think outside the box. Every detail matters, if you're using pairs of something - don't put them next to each other. The ceiling is a "fifth wall", don't forget it. I have "Mr. Hadley moments" all the time, where I think about what he would do. That could be editing or taking away or trying to find the most simple and effective solution to a "design problem" without overthinking it. On job sites or in workrooms when he didn't like something, he would say: "just make good". That meant: do it, solve it and don't talk about it - and believe me, it got you thinking! And then he teaches you to be humble. It's decorating and designing,not surgery..."

Harry Heissmann created a black space filled with graphic 70's elements.

All set for breakfast in bed with a side of Flair.

There is a tres Truman Capote feeling here.

Suzanne Earls Carr worked in a cream palette with touches of blue. There is a serene simplicity in her space. Topiary trees frame the entrance, adding their shapes to a linear space.

Cocktail time! A white textured Gourd Lamp (another great Spitzmiller piece) sits next to sentimental photos.

Thomas Jayne used Rorschach inkblot test- like brightly painted panels from Chuck Hettinger Studio to tie an antique filled space together. He worked at Parrish Hadley from 1986-87. He recalled, "He never discounted or overlooked any period of style for inspiration. He is as assured with Left Bank Parisian 1930's design as he is with Chippendale and Louis XV. I honor Albert because he advocates a personal connection with a room’s decoration. In an Albert rooms, you almost always get a sense of who lives there – they are never generic."

A clean lined settee with tapered legs fits neatly in the corner, covered with pastel pillows.

A happy faced pillow adds a touch of whimsy.

A narrow secretary would make a nice desk in a small New York apartment.

Great books like Happy Times and his newest tome, "The Finest Rooms in America" make the space personal.

Brian Murphy used amazing art that worked well with "Fireworks" wallpaper from Hadley's Hinson collection. When asked about his time working with the firm he said, "I worked for Albert from 1987 until 2000. My favorite quote from Albert is "Give em what they never knew they always wanted", which I think is a paraphrase of Diana Vreeland." The furniture in his booth is all 19th Century American.

A high backed garden bench and demilune plant stand and gothic hall chair and folk art coat rack.The bright and uplifting paintings that tie the space together are by Melissa Richard.

An American hooked rug from Rahmanan adds a nice graphic element against the painted furniture.

Brian McCarthy, who joined Parish Hadley in 1983 as Hadley's assistant, created a sitting area with neutral creams and dark browns. An amazing wavy wall surface out of plaster are juxtaposed against round mirrors from Line Vautrin grouped, a la Hadley. A comfortable chair, furry stool and ethnic rug tie the scheme together.

Every designer that has worked with The Dean knows and loves the folding ruler.


by Marisa Marcantonio

It is not everyday that someone gets to work beside an interior design icon like Mr. Hadley, "The Dean of American Design." Britton Smith, a designer at Albert Hadley Inc., has had a front row seat since he began there in 1998.
When I heard last month that Mr. Hadley was closing the doors of his firm, I knew I had to reach out to Britt, as he was there the longest. I was eager to find out what sage advice was offered, and how what he was privy to informed his design ethos. As Britt begins a new chapter forging out on his own, I wish him great success. I know he learned from the best, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Last night I attended Rooms With A View in Southport, Connecticut, where designers who had worked with Mr. Hadley honored him, creating truly fantastic vignettes. Many incorporated his favorite shade of red, and other meaningful associations. Bunny Williams, David Easton, Thomas Jayne, Thom Filicia, Pamela Banker, Libby Cameron, Susanna Earls Carr, Harry Heissmann, David Kleinberg, Brian McCarthy, Brian Murphy, and Michael Whaley created the most unbelievable design moments in spaces spanning 5 feet x 8 feet. I encourage you to take a trip to Southport this weekend to check them out. You will be so glad you did!

A living room featured in House Beautiful in 2003

When did you join the office of Albert Hadley?

I am the last one left from Parish Hadley. I started there as second assistant in April of 1998 and got to be the lucky one to stay on board and carry over to Albert Hadley Inc. in 2000 until it closed last month.

Had you worked for a designer before?

I was more or less a professional student. I had a Business and Fine Art degree and then studied Fashion Design at Parsons (my third BA)...I worked as a collections assistant at The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute for 3 years as an intern while studying at Parsons. I then opened my own business in 1997 designing 100% natural and as environmentally friendly as possible luxury goods for the clothing and home furnishing industry. I developed a number of yarns, fabrics, textiles and dyes as well as a number of unique manufacturing processes- but eventually ran out of money and began decorating to make ends meet. I still own the rights to some of the things that I developed and hope to revisit them in the future.

Now that Mr. Hadley is retiring, what will you miss most about working with him every day?

I will miss the daily interaction with Mr. Hadley the most. I learned something new from Mr. Hadley every day, and it was a gift that I won't be able to replicate.

What are some of his memorable expressions that will stick with you?

Mr. Hadley often quoted Diana Vreeland "Give 'em what they never knew they wanted..." and "You can't reinvent the wheel."

What is the best advice he ever gave you/ ever gave a client?

I feel that one of the most valuable reminders that he ever gave me was that I am not a client - which basically means keep it real and don't live beyond your means. As well as being a refreshing reminder that we are "the help."

And as far as watching his interaction with clients, I feel that he gently encouraged them to speak up and take in active role in the development of their projects. Nothing was ever dictated- and the more the client participated in the project, the better it came out. I think that it is the collaborative effort that has the most successful and pleasing results. And- it is one of the reasons that there is not a cookie cutter look- as each project was tailor made for the individual.

How would he deal with using something the client owned and valued even though it may not have been a favorite of his?

Mr. Hadley cared deeply about the sentiments of the clients, and encouraged them to add their little touches. It is the "love" that makes the magic.

What are his top 3 favorite prints? Yours?

Mr. Hadley had his own collection of prints that he made on fabrics and wall paper for clients in any color combination imaginable. It had wonderful results because the potential was limitless. It was especially fun to have the curtains match the walls if you wanted too- and it made finding the perfect shade of 'your color' a whole lot easier.

There were prints of every scale in the collection -from little ditsy things like "Jigsaw"- which was an amorphous all over pattern that could be used on walls and ceilings (great for kitchens, bath rooms and well as difficult apartment rooms with lots of beams that would ordinarily make it difficult to stop the pattern. It simply creates a background or texture, and is also great in closets.

And there were wonderful medium scale patterns like "Happy"- which Mr. Hadley first printed for Mrs. Rockefeller. It is also an all over pattern, suitable for walls and ceilings. It is a classic American design that transcends time- and can look modern or country- depending on what you do with it. There are several colorways available at Hinson in Brunschwig and Fils that are worth exploring. Mr. Hadley had prints like Tree of Life that are large scale, but also have limitless potential. If I am not mistaken, Mr. Hadley developed it for the curtains in Mrs. Astor's "Money Room". Although it is a print, it has the feeling of cruel-work. There is also a version available at Brunschwig.

Does Mr. Hadley have a favorite color and what is yours?

I would be inclined to say that red would be his favorite color if I were to guess. I don't have a favorite color, but one thing that I did learn is that there is no such thing as an ugly color- it just may not have been used in the right context. There is a Powder Room in Washington, DC that Mr. Hadley did with Gary Hager years ago that is a perfect example. If you were to look at a color chip I can almost guarantee that you wouldn't like it in the conventional sense. It is certainly not 'pretty'. However, when you see it in the context of the room, in a high gloss lacquered finish, together with the objects from the owner's collection- it is astoundingly chic and sophisticated. Magic in the sense that it never was in style, nor will it ever be out --it's simply beautiful.

What are the last 3 design books you have bought that you really love and why?

I tend to buy books in piles and was just at the Strand and bought a few more that I didn't have- The Houses of Greenwich Village, Rustic, the Colonial Revival House- all of which are inspirational and would have something for everyone. I was also psyched to find the two volume set of New York Interior Design 1935-1985 (by Judith Gura) which is a must have as a cross section of the development of Interior Design in this country. My copy of Billy Baldwin: The Great American Decorator (by Adam Lewis) just arrived this afternoon. Full of things that I haven't seen before, and I'm looking forward to reading it. As well as a copy of Beaton: The Art of the Scrap Book, which was a surprise gift from a client, and honestly one of the most exciting and beautiful thing that I've seen in a long time. My collection of books and magazines are the most important thing that I own. Some of my favorites include Decoration (Librairie Hachette 1963) which is a delicious collection of French interiors from Louis XVIII through Jansen in the 60's. The rooms range from rustic out buildings to Mies van der rohe to the most sumptuous of posh - but they are all crisp and fresh. The David Hicks series, Billy Baldwin series, Parish Hadley, and the Mc Millen book are all must - haves, as well as America's Small Houses (1964), Les Pavillons (Connolly and Zerbe 1962).


by Marisa Marcantonio

With Albert Hadley officially retiring and closing his eponymous design firm, attending this year's Rooms with a View Vignettes is a must! Mr. Hadley, referred to as The Dean of American Design, founded the event sixteen years ago, and has served as it's chairman. Honoring his years of dedication and service are Parish Hadley and Albert Hadley alums Pamela Banker, Libby Cameron, Suzanne Earls Carr, David Easton, Thom Filicia, Thomas Jayne, David Kleinberg, Brian McCarthy, Brian Murphy, Nicholas Pentacost, Harry Heismann, Michael Whaley and Bunny Williams. They will transform their 5 x 8 spaces. This fantastic annual event is held at the Southport Congregational Church in my hometown, and draws design enthusiasts from far and near that come to see the creative vignettes and shop in The Marketplace boutiques. Don't miss it.
Here is the scoop:
The Gala Preview Party, Thursday November 4th 6:30-9:30 pm to order tickets click here.
Show hours to visit Friday, November 5th and Saturday the 6th 10am-5pm and Sunday, November 7th 11am-5pm

For more information visit
Rooms with a View
See you there!