Lindenhurst resident Greer McGuinness takes iPhone photos of her two...

Lindenhurst resident Greer McGuinness takes iPhone photos of her two sons Declan, 5, and Keegan, 8, with the Grinch in the Christmas-decorated Content House in Mineola. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Catherine Ovejas, 51, has a vivid imagination and a knack for set design. And she’s harnessed both over the past couple of years with her “PopUp Speakeasy” studios, where selfie seekers, families and social media influencers in search of backdrops and scenes, could flit about to various vignettes featuring fun props or popular themes in warehouselike settings. 

But now Ovejas and her partner, Jose Rivera, 41, (a talented set builder) have hit upon what they consider to be the holy grail of spaces: a commercially zoned 1950s-style Colonial home in Mineola, formerly a lawyer’s office, that they’re calling “Content House,” a place for family fun, meetings, photo sessions, special events and generally folks who are in pursuit of content for social media platforms.


The Grinch at the front door of the Content House...

The Grinch at the front door of the Content House in Mineola, a selfie studio where an alchemy of a fantasy and nostalgia mix. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

“The concept of a house being used and designed for content creation is still so new,” explains Ovejas, referencing the Netflix show, “Hype House,” where a group of TikTok personalities live together in a California-based mansion for the purpose of making videos together.

Open for just a month, the home’s bland old kitchen has gone full-on Barbie pink with added interest from authentic 1960s wallpaper. There’s a freshly painted rainbow-colored staircase and a '90s-inspired basement decorated with vinyl records and a disco ball. For the holidays, the duo is doing some major decking of the halls with multiple themes.

The kitchen will be staged for Christmas with a baking station that includes faux-food — everything from mugs of hot chocolate to cherry pies to cupcakes. “I have to tell people not eat them, they look so real,” she says. The living room is fashioned after the beloved classic movie, “A Christmas Story,” and dubbed “a blast from the past” by Ovejas. The décor includes the iconic leg lamp from the film along with a vintage phone booth and 1940-ish furniture and accessories. The dining room gets a major dose of glam with its piles of sparkly gold and green accessories, and a “Pinkmas” bedroom with a vintage dollhouse and overall pink vibe is a sugarplum fantasy. Oh, yes, and occasionally, the Grinch will pop in to photobomb your pictures.

Guests take photos at the Content House in Mineola on...

Guests take photos at the Content House in Mineola on Nov. 12. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

The Content House is even better than Popup Speakeasy’s other locations, says Melissa Gross, 35, of Mineola, who has been there several times with daughter Briella, 10, and plans to use one of the rooms as a backdrop for her holiday card.

“I absolutely love it. We’ve been to their prior locations and compared to that the house is a wonderful idea,” she says, explaining that it feels more private than the warehouse spaces and that each room has its own character. “My daughter loves the set up and going up the staircase and seeing different rooms. And she’s bugging me to go back.”


The hunt for a house has been central to the couple’s mission. “We were always looking for one, to be honest,” admits Ovejas. “But on Long Island, it’s hard to find a commercial house that still looks like a house. Inside they all look like white boxes, with cubicles, Sheetrock and hideous light fixtures. But this place wasn’t converted. They kept the bones of the home. It still had a working bathroom and kitchen and a great staircase. We looked at it through a different lens to figure out what it could be.”

Her goal? “The concept was always to be a pop-up and to explore unique spaces filled with the unexpected — a playful mix of pop culture and retro aesthetic.” The whole house has allowed her additional range “for giving individuals, artists, photographers, videographers and models creative content.” Beyond that, the house offers a private environment for meetings, events and parties.

The move was timely. “It’s a budget-friendly place to take really great holiday photos,” says Ovejas, noting that there are already plenty of bookings by families looking to capture merrymaking images for greeting cards. “There are beautiful sets, lighting and props, and people can do it with or without our assistance, and we’ll even shoot for them on their phones.”


WHEN | WHERE 344 Willis Ave., Mineola. Parking is available and reservations can be booked online at; 631-743-5530.

COST Adults are $35 per session, kids ages 4-11, $20 and for wee ones under 3, admission is free. Professional photographer packages start at $298. 

Newsday LogoSUBSCRIBEUnlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months