There's a lot going on at the 2011 Mansion & Millionaires Designers' Showcase, and it's not just what is happening inside the 37 rooms and four outside spaces at the Upper Brookville mansion and its grounds.
The fun starts as soon as you arrive at Chestnut Manor, where the event opens Saturday. There, on the portico, are life-size cutout figures of several presidents (you'll see that George Washington was actually taller than Abraham Lincoln). Take a seat in one of the empty rockers and have your date snap a photo. (If you want to take Teddy Roosevelt home, you can buy the original painted piece for $500, which is by Philip Jordan of Greenlawn. The event is a fundraiser for the Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf, after all.) The idea is to reflect the patriotism of the architectural period -- when Colonial Revival came to be the national style.
Specifically, Chestnut Manor is a 1914 Mount Vernon Colonial (another reason to conjure up the first president for the to-do) built for Charles Oliver and Hope Goddard Iselin. Which gets at another noteworthy thing -- the home's provenance. The fabled Iselins -- known as a sporting, well-traveled, wealthy couple -- owned 160 acres at the time. Today the house, which is for sale (see specs below), is on eight of those acres.
Actress Pia Zadora moved into the home with then-businessman-husband Meshulam Riklis after that. Then there were two more owners, the latest being a family that purchased the house 20 years ago.
Among the things visitors will see is a secret room behind a bookshelf in the library where there once was an ice-cream parlor that has been transformed, thanks to Williston Park designers Mario Mulea and Esther Carter Samain, into a "Haven," as they dub the peaceful space. Here's a peek at what else there is to discover at the show house:
Manhattan's Richard Schlesinger is one of several designers who floated furniture. "People are using all the space, not just up against the wall," says Arlene Travis, show house producer. In Schlesinger's room, dubbed "One Third" ("we spend one-third of our lives in the bedroom," he says), it's a modern-style four-poster bed with a cream faux malachite finish and a fantastical custom-made duvet made of 6,500 off-white silk leaves and more than 400 imitation pearls.
The 1950s kitchen "Everything Old Is New Again" -- refreshed by Port Washington's Tarasoff Interiors -- takes a cue from fashion's recent mix-and-match craze. Between the love seat, rug, floor and window treatments, designers Ann Tarasoff and Gail Tarasoff Sutton combined plaids, stripes, checks and crewel.
DIY TIP Make sure to keep scale in mind when mixing patterns, Tarasoff suggests.
Old Westbury design firm Leva Visconti Designs tried to appeal to all the senses in the "Listen & Exhale" man cave on the third floor. The room is very tactile, with its ruched Ligne Roset sofa and 1970s Swedish birdcage chair with its sheepskin throw. A Ralph Lauren diffuser fills the space with a clean, fresh, masculine scent. There are layers of light, some aimed up from the floor, as well as classic Venetian mirrors and a gallery of paintings and sculptures. A guitar sits in a corner near canvasses covered with raised black velvet skull wallpaper marking where a sound system has turned two of the walls into speakers. There's a bar as well, serving dishes with apples and nuts and a hearty supply of Cuban cigars.
Many pieces in the show house got a face-lift from paint, including key elements in Centerport's Patti Johnston's "Boudoir" dressing room, from a turn-of-the-century French vanity and pier mirror to a collection of vintage picture frames that hang without images on a wall.
DIY TIP Try painting old headboards, side tables, fixtures or anything with classic lines, Johnston suggests.
It's been a hot color in the kitchen. Now gray is elbowing out beige as the go-to hue for the rest of the house. There are various shades, showing how versatile the color can be. It is a traditional gray in Great Neck designer Rona Levine's "Stylish Serenity" woman's retreat, set against lime green taffeta draperies. It looks more taupe upstairs in the entrance to the master suite; it is called "Shades of Grisaille," which refers to paintings done in shades of one color from the French word gris for gray. Mural artists Philip Jordan (who did the presidential figures) and Cathy Chiavaro of Northport decorated the walls with copies of Leonardo da Vinci sketches, Long Island landscapes and similarly colored furniture, light fixtures and wooden valences. And in the nearby hallway called "A Room With a View," Greenlawn designer Aprile Marchesano dresses the space in a cooler, more subtle gray in the window dressings and walls.
Romantics will adore Upper Brookville designer Anne Lombardi's master bedroom. Its name, "Crystal Dreams," says it all. Lombardi's inspiration came from a Swarovski Strass crystal star. It is illuminated by halogen lights aimed at acrylic crystals she affixed to the ceiling. "When the lights are on, you have an almost starlight feel," says Travis, the show house producer. But the dreamy bedding is also a showstopper -- small Swarovski crystals are sewn into the white duvet and shams.
ACCENTS ALL OVER
Blue is the accessory color of choice at the show house. The most vivid example is in the Ethan Allen living room, dubbed "Tailored Elegance." Here, the designers for the furniture chain used blue as a punch color in pillows, chairs, draperies and the china cabinet.
WHEN | WHERE 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and Columbus Day (closed other Mondays), starting tomorrow through Oct. 30 at Chestnut Manor, 1327 Wolver Hollow Rd., Upper Brookville
INFO $30, $28 for seniors, $7 children 5 to 12; no children under 5 and no strollers; 516-277-2156
Listing price: $6 million
Lot size: 8 acres
Square footage: More than 15,000
Full baths: 10
Amenities: Indoor and outdoor pools; riding ring and paddock; shed/barn, cottage
Listing agent: Behnaz Rouhani, Shawn Elliott Luxury Homes & Estates, 516-698-0469