The breakfast nook in the kitchen designed by Ciuffo Cabinetry...

The breakfast nook in the kitchen designed by Ciuffo Cabinetry of Deer Park at the Hampton Designer Showhouse in Bridgehampton Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

The days leading up to the opening of a designer show house are chaotic, an element usually invisible to visitors who come to get decorating ideas. Rooms look weeks away from finishing. Sometimes, the pool isn't done. The landscape is spotty, or worse, bare.

And sometimes, as decorators work in their spaces, getting ready to receive visitors, doorknobs fall off in their hands, as Sean Bruns of Southampton-based Mecox Design Services says he has found.

At this year's Hampton Designer Showhouse, his fifth and the largest house to ever host the event, not only was the more-than-8,500-square-foot shingled home complete before he and 19 other decorators arrived to get to work, but he says the builders' focus on quality surprised him, down to finishes, tiles, baseboards, staircases and coffered ceilings.

He says he watched a representative of Paramount Homes of the Hamptons Inc., which built this south-of- Montauk Highway home in Bridgehampton -- now for sale for almost $15 million -- tell a worker to rip out the drains in the pool simply because "they were the wrong color looking down from the second floor."

The pool is not the place where most goers will be fixated on color -- it will be on the walls, ceilings, fabrics and furniture -- but attention to detail never hurts.


"No one ever uses the wine cellar," says Bruns of Mecox Design. So instead of putting one in the hard-to-reach basement, Paramount Homes installed the wine "cellar" next to the dining room. For Bruns, who decorated the space with Judy Hadlock, it almost becomes an art installation. "It . . . becomes a focal point," says Bruns.

DIY tip: The small, well-lit space, which holds about 350 bottles, is faced with high-end glass shower doors. A contractor might be needed to construct such a space in your home, but if you're handy enough, look for more affordable shower doors and incorporate crates into the design, he says.


That other entrance to the house -- the mudroom -- goes high style at the show house. Manhattan designer Melanie Roy, who has a home in Bridgehampton, used surfboard art by Barry Mcgee to announce the beachy theme of her blue-and-taupe space. Wire baskets and galvanized buckets store towels, flip-flops and balls, and the motif is carried through the half-bath with its horizontal navy-and-white-striped walls, marine lighting and antique porthole mirror.

DIY tip: Everyone and everything needs its own space in a mudroom, as it all does here. What sets this room apart from most is the theme Roy uses. "Take one concept and build upon it," says Roy, whether it's a favorite family activity, like equestrian sports, or simply a favorite color used in the home.


Deer Park-based Ciuffo Cabinetry's kitchen combines transitional-style cabinet doors, stainless-steel appliances, cerused walnut and a white Calcutta marble surround.

DIY tip: The kitchen would cost an estimated $275,000 to build, says Gary Ciuffo, president of the company. "This doesn't have to be done on such a grand scale," he adds. "This same style can be replicated in any home." He suggests bringing metal into the details, beachy-looking wood and white countertops to get the same look.


Manhattan designer Patrik Lönn incorporated dry, rough linens and wool blends into the decor of the great room, including accent pillows made of wall hangings and table runners by legendary midcentury Swedish textile artist Märta Måås Fjetterström. "It's almost like a grandma fabric, but it's very current," says Lönn.

DIY tip: Lönn suggests looking for similar, more affordable fabrics in the Garment District and using them as upholstery. "If you want to experiment, start with pillows," he says, explaining that dress fabrics might be too delicate for furniture. Work with neutral fabrics and make sure the room includes modern accents to provide an edge.


For the lower-level lounge, Fort Salonga decorator Patricia Loria created a space, mostly blue, where a woman would want to entertain her girlfriends. She chose luxury pieces by furniture designer Christopher Guy, whose work often is inspired by the female form. There is decolletage in the shape of his console table and crossed legs in his chaise.

DIY tip: Such a space calls for fabrics with a feminine feel, such as satin, silk and velvet, Loria says. Make sure to add sparkle, as she did in the diamond crystal buttons in the window treatments and the vanity mirror lights above the powder room sink. "Don't do pink," she cautions. "Save it for little girls. A woman today has so much going on for her that she can take any color and make it feminine."


Mabley Handler Interior Design's bedroom mixes patterns of all sorts -- a zebra pattern on the desk chair and curtains, a geometric pattern in the linens, a trellis pattern in the wallpaper. There also is a striped rug the designers planned to swap out before the show house's opening -- for a custom-made piece with a pattern of elliptical shapes.

DIY tip: "What ties everything together are the tones of blue," says Austin Handler, whose firm, which he owns with wife, Jennifer Mabley, is headquartered in Water Mill. Another unifying element is the salmon color in the lamps, statues, coverlet and sofa.


Gold is combined with natural products in Lillian August Designs' living room. There's a live-edge, hand-cut black walnut console on acrylic slabs under a gold-leaf wood starburst mirror, for instance.

DIY tip: "It's great to use neutrals, but to change it up, use pillows," says Dan Weiss, president and chief executive of the Connecticut-based company who has a home on Shelter Island. He suggests using a "punch color." In this room, it's orange.

Hampton Designer Showhouse

WHAT: A benefit for Southampton Hospital, sponsored by Traditional Home magazine, NBC/4's "Open House NYC" and Beach Magazine
WHEN | WHERE: Gala preview cocktail party from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday at 408 Pauls Lane, Bridgehampton, with show house from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, starting Sunday, through Labor Day
INFO: Gala is $225 a person; regular admission is $35, which includes a journal; no admission 30 minutes before closing; no strollers, infants, children younger than 6 or pets allowed; 631-353-3900,
ASKING PRICE: $14.495 million
AMENITIES: Pool, pool house, wine cellar, tennis court, gym, theater, sauna, elevator, garage with radiant heated floor
LISTING AGENT: Vincent Horcasitas, Saunders & Associates, 631-458-4879

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