The Hamptons

Hampton Designer Showhouse Review

michael braverman :: on the hamptons

The point of it all is tasteful excess. Showhouses are not meant to be too well mannered or conventionally elegant. We don’t really buy showhouse tickets to be bored with restrained good taste and we don’t go for practical tips on decorating. Nobody actually lives that way. We want to be treated to a bit of fantasy, something magnetizing and seductive, exorbitant in its budget and extravagant in its results.

Give us a head-rush kind of house in a drop-dead setting in the Hamptons, where indulgence is as much a part of life as westbound traffic on Sunday nights, and you’ve got a perfect storm of decorative profligacy. That’s why we can’t wait each year for the opening of the Hampton Designer Showhouse, a benefit for Southampton Hospital.

Anticipating the gala opening in July, we just attended a cocktail party at antique dealer Bermingham & Co., where the names of the participating designers were announced. The guests were exceedingly well behaved. We did not notice a single glass deposited on the rare and precious tabletops, but then again most of the people drinking from those glasses were in the decorating world and know how to treat a big-ticket antique.

This is the eighth annual showhouse, and the venue is an enormous new spec house in Sagaponack. In a real estate market, even a slow one, where average spec house sizes range from stupendous to colossal, that’s to be expected, and for the showcase purposes it’s just right. And you can count on every inch of the place decked out to dazzle.

The showhouse opens with a gala preview party on July 19th, and runs until August 31st, which is Grand Prix day at the Hampton Classic. We can all get some rest after Labor Day, which comes early this year.

A ll the designers will be working hard to gain recognition (and business), to make us aware of who they are, to entertain us, and most importantly to raise money for Southampton Hospital. If you are a designoholic and interested in the names and details, read on and give them a little applause:

Mrs. Alessandro di Montezemolo and Mrs. Mildred Brinn are the honorary co-chairs of the showhouse. Mario Buatta is honorary gala chair. Showhouse veteran Gary Crain is honorary design chair and James Alan Smith is decorative arts chair. Marketing and management are handled by Tony Manning as usual.

Interior designers:
Bob Bakes of Bakes and Company
Christopher Maya of Christopher Maya, Inc.
Douglas Graento of Douglas Graneto Design
Penelope Irwin of Irwinteriors
Jennifer Flanders of Jennifer Flanders, Inc.
Kate Singer of Kate Singer Home
Kevin Hart of Kevin Hart Design, Inc.
Lilly Pulitzer
Katherine Newman of Lona Design
Jennifer Mabley and Austin Handler of Mabley Handler Interior Design
Nancy Boszhardt of Nancy Boszhardt, Inc
Susan Calabria of Noli Design
Regina Kraft of Regina Kraft Interiors
Robert Stilin of Robert Stilin, LLC
Gail Shields Miller of Shields &Company Interiors
Sherrill Canet of Sherrill Canet Interiors, Ltd
Anne Tarasoff and Gail Tarasoff Tarasoff Interiors

Decorative Artists:
The Alpha Workshops
Dianne Warner
Laurance Rassin
Moises Esquenazi & Associates
Monica Rich Kosann

Landscape Designers:
Florentine Craftsmen
Whitmore Landscaping

Michael Braverman is Editor at Large at Hamptons Magazine and Contributing Editor at Gotham Magazine. He has been the Wine Columnist at The East Hampton Star and he also writes for the polo newsletters, Open Season and Morning Line. We are thrilled to welcome him aboard as well! He can be reached at michael[at] or via our comments page.
Braverman is deeply involved in the East End community and serves on the boards of the Hampton Classic Horse Show, the Thomas Moran Trust, the Robert Wilson Watermill Center, and the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center. He has lived most of his life in East Hampton, and was a partner in Braverman Newbold Brennan Real Estate. That business was sold to Sotheby’s International Realty ten years ago, after which he became a journalist. lifeguard stand

June 24th, 2008 Posted by | guest bloggers | 4 comments


  1. All of the rooms are indeed amazing! It did seem as though many of the rooms are quite restrained. The one exception is the one by Shields & Company Interiors. Gail stands out as the one designer who embraced the opportunity to offer visual theater – done with taste. I went to her website, and lo and behold, the residences she designed for real people are very livable.

    Comment by Michelle D | July 22, 2008

  2. I have been in more than one of Mrs. Shields-Miller’s residences – both in NYC and in the country. I have always been impressed with how she is able to mix cutting edge style with practicality and still reflect the homeowners unique personality. It doesn’t hurt that they are always the main topic of conversation among the neighbors either!

    Comment by Evan | July 24, 2008

  3. Thanks for the comments. I too thought Gail’s room was terrific. It was really satisfying to see the kind of adventurous thinking I talked about in my article, and hoped to see happen at the showhouse. I loved her concept, her colors and fabrics, the art she chose–and the exciting way it all came together.

    Comment by Michael Braverman | July 24, 2008

  4. michael got it right … gail miller’s room at the sagaponack showhouse was an insight into her present work … very eclectic and truly a delight in this day of ‘repeat’ fill-up rooms … her sense of color, texture & place work to make her rooms a joy to be in … very cool & exciting as well … keep up the dream …
    joel s … arch

    Comment by joel s | August 7, 2008

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