One word sums up the latest decorators' show house opening this weekend at Mill Neck Manor -- surprise.
Designers' Showcase 2015 opens with Glen Cove-based Safavieh Home Furnishings' Collector's Room, where visitors will find dozens of curiosities, including fossilized stegosaurus eggs. A hallway of plein-air paintings by Northport decorative painter and artist Cathy Chiavaro contains two round floral works -- done on drumheads she found in a Dumpster outside a music supply shop.
Around the bend, Port Washington designer Keith Baltimore's office stops the show with an enormous midcentury Modern walnut desk that once belonged to Dean Martin. Upstairs, a two-room pop-up Salvador Dali show curated by the Meisner Gallery in Farmingdale features his "Hallucinogenic Toreador" sculpture, which can be purchased for more than $1 million.
But other words will also be used to describe the spaces -- and sometimes decorate them -- inside the 1923 Tudor Revival-style mansion. Each of the 30 designers and artists in the show house, themed Signs of Spring, has chosen one seasonally inspired word to describe his or her space -- think "rainbow," "flower," "wonder," "light."
The event is a fundraiser for the Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf, which will pair a sign language interpreter with a docent on Saturdays. And some of the 200 students at the school are collaborating with Huntington artist Lilith Jones and Bay Shore artist Chris Cumberbatch to incorporate hand signs corresponding to signs of spring in the artists' spaces. Jones will unveil a mural, and Cumberbatch created a "Love Temple," more wonders to see along the way.
A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING
Safavieh's 1,650-square-foot living room is what show house co-producer Arlene Travis is calling a "collectory." In addition to the stegosaurus eggs, there is a 14th century book of hours weighted down by an antique eel spear. Nearby, there is a 1910 maple serving tray covered with pressed butterflies under glass.
DIY TIP: "Every room should show a family's collection," says Joe Murphy, a buyer, merchandiser and designer for Glen Cove's Safavieh. Murphy -- who decorated the room with Keith Murphy and Karin Krinsky -- suggests finding a place to display family photographs, souvenirs picked up on vacation and items from a cherished relative's home.
DRESSING THE TABLE
That long mirrored piece on top of the dining table in Locust Valley designer Anne Lombardi's room is called a plateau, and she says the silver-plated piece is a copy of the silver one in the White House. The Brilliant Period centerpiece is paired with ribbon-back Chippendale chairs, Gothic pier mirrors and a midcentury purple sofa, among other pieces.
DIY TIP: In mixing periods, Lombardi says less is more. "There are some periods you cannot blend," she says, naming two -- Arts and Crafts, and Folk Art, because each are too pure in style to combine with pieces from other periods.
LIGHT AND BRIGHT
Amityville designer Karyn Kilkenny calls her kitchen "Sunnyside Up." She brightened up the black cabinetry and white porcelain tile with yellow walls, accents and accessories. "Yellow, from a color theory perspective, is what draws the human eye more than any other in the visible spectrum," says Kilkenny. "That's why it is the most popular highlighter color."
DIY TIP: Kilkenny used a custom window valance to highlight the grandness of the window. Mirrors mimic the circular pattern of the valance while reflecting as much natural light in the room as possible. "DIYers can easily integrate this trickery of light to amp up the lighting of any dark space," she says.
IN THE WHITE ROOM
"Sometimes a room becomes special simply by the absence of color," says Glen Head designer Beverly Balk. Her second-floor bedroom is all white -- except for lime ottoman tops -- and includes four shades: cream, off white, white and ivory. Make sure to check out the dreamy bed with posters fashioned out of draping with a slight ruffled edge.
DIY TIP: Balk says that people tend to remember white rooms. To create one, she suggests not only varying the shades of white but also the fabrics -- heavy and light. An accent color, such as the ottoman tops, can be changed easily, she says.
WHAT: "Signs of Spring" Designers' Showcase 2015, presented by the Mill Neck Family of Organizations and Mansions & Millionaires, a fundraiser for the Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf
WHEN / WHERE: Opens May 2 through June 14, 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and closed Mondays (except Memorial Day, from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.) at Mill Neck Manor, 40 Frost Mill Rd., Mill Neck
INFO: $30, $28 for seniors, $7 for children 12 and under; see website for schedule of lectures and demonstrations; 516-628-4333, millneck.org