The North Fork Designer Show House rolls on to the summer scene this weekend with something decorating fanatics may never have seen before: Out back, behind the rustic 1835 Cutchogue farmhouse where the event is taking place, is a vintage Airstream that is part of the decorating tour for charity.
The 1965 motor home belongs to a member of the organizing committee, who plans to restore it after the show house ends. Joann Brancato, who sells furniture at her shop Openspace in Greenport, has filled it with 1960s tables, chairs, maps, books and other retro candy for the eyes, such as a portable record player and a filmy space-age-looking apron.
There are other show house firsts here. The once-dilapidated hoop-house -- a kind of greenhouse covered with plastic -- has been turned into a meditation room by Greenport designer and committee member Bob Tapp. He will hire a harpist to play on some Sunday afternoons as a group practices yoga inside. Nearby, Brooklynite and part-time Shelter Island resident Gosia Rojek's shed is re-imagined as a space where a woman who sails, like herself, might come to work and play. The ceiling, walls and inside of the doors are covered with a portion of her yacht's $8,000 nylon spinnaker, which ripped during a downwind start at the 2010 Greenport Ocean Race.
Such quirky approaches to design can be found inside the home, as well. In a space she painted pink and called "The Mistress's Bathroom," Laura Courtney of Imagine Art Studio in Jamesport decorated with such unusual objects as a rescued turn-of-the-last-century sewing machine, once a home for mice. She gutted the ornately carved wood base and covered the top with a mirror, turning the piece into a vanity.
There's more that needs to be seen to be believed.
DOOR TO DIFFERENT
Look under the dining room table in Dix Hills designer Abby Stein's room -- local craftsman Dan McAllister made the base out of two doors, with a black porcelain knob on one of the legs. The top came from attic flooring rescued from a house being torn down in Middle Island, says McAllister, who owns In the Attic Too in Jamesport and Laurel. And that console table? He made it from the base of a circa-1920s pool table, with the pockets still visible on the piece's whitewashed surface. The long piece of wood on top is actually a church pew, he says.
DIY TIP. The four chairs around the dining room table were "ugly blond wood," says Stein, who painted them a seafoam green to match the legs of the table. "Go shop in your attic and find the ugliest piece and paint it," says Stein -- or find a way to turn it into something entirely new.
THE EYE OF THE HOME
The kitchen is more reminiscent of a place to relax, like a living room or den, than the room where the pots and dishes get dirty. The look is aided by Southold decorator Melissa Hyatt's nautical watercolors and oils of local scenery. Her painting of a crab, hung prominently on a wall across from the stove, also appears on a pillow on a bench in the room. Hyatt, who was director of design at Waverly Fabrics, uses a watery ikat design for a textile line she is launching for other pillows -- as well as for the floor: Instead of placing a runner using her fabric, she painted a 30-inch-by-12-foot trompe l'oeil rug.
DIY TIP. Hyatt used deck and floor paint to create the faux runner, "working diligently" over one recent weekend until it was completed. When it comes to painting a design on the floor, though, the planning is huge," she says. "Map it out before you even pick up a paintbrush."
The curtains in Bay Shore designer Drew Allt's living room use the iconic green Martinique Banana Leaf wallpaper pattern from The Beverly Hills Hotel. While Allt uses high-end pieces in the room, including a handmade Frances Palmer vase and a Michael Aram Tree of Life fireplace screen, he manages to continue the reuse theme -- a large brass platter, once black and still somewhat beaten up, serves as a table top. It once belonged to his partner's grandparents, who brought it back from India during a world cruise in 1970.
DIY TIP. As for those curtains, Allt says, "Don't be afraid of big prints. Balance them in a room." He did so by using neutrals and quiet prints in the rest of the space.
Designer Betsy Lynch did "The Little Reading Room," a 6-by-9-foot space that she was happy to take on, she says, because she loves small spaces so much that her Cutchogue home is only 500 square feet. It pays homage to the area's Native American and nautical roots with a quarterboard -- a carved sign once used for ships -- reading "Corchaug," the Native American tribe from which Cutchogue got its name. Other local symbols abound: wine and oysters, a local decoy, a print of shore birds.
DIY TIP. "Go vertical," says Lynch, as she did in the impossibly small space. And then there's this: In ordering a smaller-scale custom wing chair for the room, she had the ottoman made with indentations on the sides to make it easier to get around the furniture.
UP NEAR THE ROOF
The attic becomes a chic loft in Mike and Renee Lisowy's space. The Lisowys, from the Wallace Home Design Center in Southold, covered the imperfect woodwork on the walls with upholstered panels. One part of the room is a sitting area with Overman pod chairs and a bar; another is a place to sleep with a twin bed sectioned off with pieces of rope hanging from the ceiling, and another is a living room space with a sofa that Mike Lisowy built because he says they could not get a sofa up the narrow staircase.
DIY TIP. The cantilever-style platform sofa, with its built-in side tables, is easy to build, the Lisowys say. Make a box, or have one made for you, and put a flat piece of wood over it, either making a cushion for the top or covering it with pillows, they add.
WHAT: The 2015 North Fork Designer Show House, a fundraiser for CAST (Community Action Southold Town), Maureen's Haven, the North Fork Animal Welfare League and scholarships for local high school students
WHERE | WHEN: Opening party from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14, then 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. It's open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays through Sept. 6 at 27150 Main Rd., Cutchogue
INFO: Opening party, $100 in advance and $125 at door; other days, $25; 631-807-7509, northforkdesignershowhouse.com