Inside her 1936 Great Neck Tudor, interior designer Maggie Dror’s colorful assortment of milk and carnival glass covers her dining room table, their permanent display space, along with her collection of midcentury Modern wine decanters. She says she has been “casually” collecting for the past 20 years, and her home has become the stage to show off all she holds dear, including a bowl and cake plates from the 1940s and ’50s that her grandmother gave her.
For Dror, part of the fun is the hunt. “It’s all about finding that treasure. It has to be unique,” says the owner of Refresh Design, also in Great Neck, proudly holding up her latest find: a milk piece the shape of a hen sitting in a basket — circa 1960 — that she purchased for $5 at a thrift store. She serves hard-boiled eggs in it. Other collections she has found at tag and estate sales, including vintage blankets from the 1950s and leather-bound Judaica books from 1959. “These books always initiate conversation and have the power to connect generations,” she says.
Newsday visited the home of four more Long Island designers to see what they collect and how they display their treasures.
ART FROM AROUND THE WORLD
A trip to Egypt that included a cruise down the Nile was one of the experiences that West Babylon interior designer Fahron Nibbs says helped fuel her passion for design and cultivate her love of art, architecture and collecting. “I had a customized version of cartouche (Egyptian hieroglyphs) painted on papyrus, which included my first name and various spiritual symbols,” says Nibbs. “It was the first piece of art that I had framed and hung on my wall.”
Nibbs worked for the airline industry and had many opportunities to travel— Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, South America and the Caribbean. Today, she has her own interior design firm, E.M. Paul Interiors in West Babylon, and has between 80 and 90 pieces. Many adorn the walls of her home, including black and white oil paintings of jazz greats such as John Coltrane and Miles Davis.
And there’s more. “I have carvings from Bali, a glass collection from Malta, painted ostrich eggs from Cape Town, South Africa, leather masks from Portugal, sarongs and fabrics from Malaysia and original prints from Australia,” she says.
FUNKY SNOW GLOBES
Bellmore designer Crystal Photiou of CP Interiors Ltd., also in Bellmore, has been collecting snow globes for as long as she can remember. The globes are not crystal, ornate or worth thousands of dollars. They are plastic and filled with water and glitter. Each one, she says, takes her back to a trip in her past. “I drive my family crazy when we’re on vacation to get a snow globe from wherever we go. It’s kind of tacky and fun, but that’s what I think attracts me,” she says.
Her current favorite, she says, is the globe she purchased while visiting Miami. “We missed our flight because of me. I left my license in the fax machine,” she says, adding that she and her husband and children were then forced to take a harrowing car trip home. The globe she bought — a “little pink Flamingo trapped in that globe” — makes her laugh because it reminds her of herself during the experience.
Photiou has 30 globes in her collection. Many are lined up along her windowsills. “It’s like a moment in time frozen in front of me to daydream,” she says.
Designer Marilyn Rose of Marilyn H. Rose Interiors in Locust Valley has been collecting Chinese porcelain for decades, and she displays it prominently throughout her home. The porcelain, she says, was made and decorated in China exclusively for export to Europe and later to North America between the 16th and 20th centuries.
Most pieces are vases, plates, teapots with covers, tankards and soup terrines, and many have been in her family for decades. “I have always loved it and continued collecting on my own,” she says.
During the 18th century, many of the porcelain designs now in her collection followed the trends in Western interior decoration, fashion, textiles, furniture, wallpaper and silverware. The famille-rose enamel (translation: “the pink family”) is one of her favorite patterns. The design includes rose-colored enamel, which she says is the characteristic color in the palette along with opaque yellow and opaque white.
Rose still travels to auctions and antiques stores, but these days she collects more for her clientele than herself. “If I see something for my clients, I buy it for them . . . and if I see something special that I love, then I will buy it for myself,” she says.
PRINTS PASSED DOWN
When Garden City designer Kurt Ericsson of Devonshire Home Design was a young boy, a hand-colored lithograph of a horse jumping hung on his bedroom wall. Ericsson says the print was given to him by his father, who had it in his bedroom when he was a boy. “The original print came from my grandparents,” he says.
The painting is still around and part of a collection of more than a dozen equestrian prints, some dating back to the turn of the 19th century. Ericsson, who had horses growing up and rode them as a youngster, says many of his framed artworks have been in his family for decades. “My great uncle was a horse rider and had a collection of equestrian-related prints and items,” he says.
Ericsson’s collection, which is featured in different groupings in his Bellerose home. Some are in a bedroom, while others are in the family room and an upstairs hallway. He also has some prints in his second home in Southold. Although Ericsson says he is not actively looking for more prints, antiques stores and consignment shops are his go-to places. “I have run out of wall space,” he says. “But if I see something really special or unusual, I will find a place for it.”