ROOMS WITH A VIEW 2013: AMERICANISM TIMELY AND TIMELESS DESIGN

by Marisa Marcantonio

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?

COLOR KICKS THIS YEAR'S KIPS BAY SHOWHOUSE UP A NOTCH

by Marisa Marcantonio

So how do you make a modern glass box livable? That was the question many designers asked themselves as they prepared their rooms for this year's Kips Bay Showhouse. Situated in a tower in the sky with river views, two duplex apartments received the designer treatment.  With nary a piece of molding in sight, the design challenge began. The chosen participants spun their web of transformation  in a jiffy. Since these are professionals, they rose to the occasion with brilliance, creating unique spaces with something for everyone. I will delve into the design standouts over the next week, so visit the far Westside and take a look. If traveling cross town is too much to process, Kips Bay has organized a shuttle bus that leaves from the Park Avenue Armory at 66th Street.

Speaking of brilliance, the brilliant color green was big this year. It was present in  every hue, from jade to grass, the verdant color vied for attention. From Charlotte Moss covering an entire room in floor to ceiling pea green velvet (masking the soffit overhang like the lining of a jewelry box)  to Jamie Drake painting his walls a matte teal finish, the veteran designers used the color to great dramatic effect.

Todd Romano's dining room with double height ceilings and soaring windows. French Directiore chairs upholstered in Brunschwig and Fils grass green silk matched the Dodie Thayer pottery he set on the table.

A massive pineapple welcomed us. Designed by Horacio Madrigal Terra Cotta, it is from Claremont,  in case you were wondering. The color matched the aubergine walls.

To say I have a fondness for Thayer Lettuceware is an understatement. I adore it. You can always count on Romano for Porthault linens and gorgeous china.

Charmer alert! A miniature vase of carnations at every place setting provided a warm gesture of hospitality.

What Kips Bay room would be complete without a handmade lamp by Christopher Spitzmiller?

Bringing the natural world inside, Charlotte Moss's room appealed to all the senses. She covered a wall in boxwood, the facing wall had blown up images of manicured French gardens, and swathed everything in varying shades of green.   The darling round-backed Charleston Slipper Chair and white cut corner table are two pieces

 from her new Century Icon's Furniture collection. The scale and amount of detail on them are just perfect, and I think my apartment would agree.

  The Natchez Camel Back Sofa has Fortuny Pillows from David Duncan on it to add a little shimmer.  To further enhance the greenery all around, the sounds of chirping birds created a transporting experience.

Photos by Eric Striffler

Working with her new Fabricut collection, she covered the room in velvet and upholstered pieces in her green florals and prints. Getting creative with the wall space, she hung antique engravings at eye level and placed a Vladimir Kanevsky Porcelain Hollyhock on a gilded decorative bracket.

Catching everything in its reflective glow, the walls of Thom Filicia's lacquer box.

His Vanguard Copake Eagle Console held sway on one wall.

On another wall, his cool modern Abstract Lines artwork from Soicher Marin were hung above a bench he designed for Vanguard.

Brian del Toro is a name you may not know but you should. He is enormously talented, having worked for some of the best in the business.  He was a senior designer when I was at David Kleinberg's office. His has impeccable taste. Spring green cushions in F. Schumacher's Prestwick wool sateen in shamrock on parchment club chairs from the 1960's mirror the clean lines in the wall treatment.

To counter the pop of green, French blue walls were treated with linear paneling. There were many great takes on how to treat walls this showhouse.

A rarified old world vintage Longchamp desk set and lamp tied the shades of green together. How civilized. Desk sets are making a comeback. I think the luddite in everyone is emerging to counter our obsessive ipad use.

What can I say? Jamie Drake just knows how to style a bookcase. He too used interesting horizontal panel detailing in more of a forest green/teal combination.

Beautiful porcelain flowers nestled amongst the books.

Scott Sanders created The Cabana, a room  that is ready for summer. Incorporating a classic Scalamandre  resist print recolored in a green, blue and yellow floral pattern. 

Meshing mid century modern and the way we live today, Sanders artfully crafted a fun hang out space. 

Phillip Jeffries Juicy Jute grasscloth in split pea added requisite zing on the walls teeing up the pair of fluoro Warhol pop art cows.

HADLEY ALUMS CAME OUT IN FORCE FOR SOUTHPORT'S ROOMS WITH A VIEW

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.