ARF Designer Showhouse Opens On Saturday


Annie Napoliello started her interior design business only two years ago but the owner of brontosaurus inc. knows all the best places to spot unique and must-have items. Of course, the ARF Thrift and Treasure Shop in Sagaponack ranks high on her list of places to uncover rare and exceptional finds.
Last year the designer attended the ARF Designer Showhouse fundraiser as a buyer. But this year, her work will grace the barn.

The theme—a tribute to Edith Bouvier Beale, also known as “Little Edie” of the Maysles brothers’ famous 1975 film “Grey Gardens,” which documented the lives of Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis’s eccentric aunt, Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale, also known as “Big Edie,” and first cousin, Little Edie—will weave old and new Hamptons charms with Ms. Napoliello’s whimsical and playful design style.

“It’s Grey Gardens/Georgica Pond,” Ms. Napoliello explained of her take on “Little Edie’s Boudoir” during a telephone interview on Friday. “I’ve always been sort of enamored of her, Little Edie. I always felt a kinship with her. This will be a modern take on what her room would look like if she were alive today and in her mid-20s.”

Ms. Napoliello said the room in the barn, which was number one on her wish list for the Showhouse, will be filled with items that are reminiscent of Ms. Beale’s unique aesthetic. There will be turbans on mannequin heads, a girly canopy bed—direct from the ARF Thrift Shop—a hand-painted floor, and even an homage to cats, which Ms. Beale, an animal lover, prized.

“It will be very dramatic, like she had decorated it herself,” said the designer, who lives in Manhattan and East Hampton with two chihuahua/terrier mix rescue dogs, Alice Ripley, 4, and Harry, 3. Alice Ripley, a “big Broadway, true blonde” with a big personality, will most likely commandeer the room, she added.

The drama surely won’t stop there during the annual ARF sale, which kicks off with a cocktail party preview at the Thrift and Treasure Shop on Saturday, May 25. Designer Elizabeth Dow, known for her hand-paintings and textiles, is planning a scintillating “50 Shades of … Grey” room based on the sensationally racy erotic novels by E.L. James.

Beach themes, always treasured by East Enders, will also feature heavily this year. James Huniford, who was named in Architectural Digest’s “Top 100 Designers,” will offer “Sagaponack Serenity.” Mother-and-daughter designers Ann and Sue Madonia, of Ann Madonia Antiques in Southampton, are putting together “A Quiet Summer Interlude.”

Also fitting with the casual-chic East End lifestyle, designer Barbara Ostrom will set a living/dining room perfect for Hamptons entertaining and renowned architect Preston Phillips will present a persimmon-hued “Party for Two” vignette.

A longtime ARF supporter, Mr. Phillips has commissioned paintings of Tina Turner and Mick Jagger from Southampton-based artist Chris Bennett as statement pieces for “Party for Two” in the space known as “the Fireplace Room” in the main building. During a tour of his design space on Friday, he reported that his plan is to give the room—which will feature two multi-colored club chairs and ottomans, and a host of items found at the shop, including a bar, brass tables and an African wall hanging, among other things—“vitality … and a little punch” in a cozy and inviting setting for two.

“I came by every week, at least once a week, to find things here,” Mr. Phillips reported. “They get fabulous things here. And they go quickly.”

The Madonias also sourced much of their “Summer Interlude,” located on the front porch, from ARF finds. On Friday afternoon, they reported that they are building their space around a modern white leather settee/fainting couch, which is presumably circa late 1950s or early 60s.

“It all started with the bench,” Susan explained. “We wanted to create an environment for after the beach, boating or playing tennis but before dinner or a cocktail party.”

“That’s exactly right,” her mother said, as she lay down on the lounger, to dramatic effect. “We thought it was so attractive … it’s interesting looking and very today. And it does have a nice form.”

The Madonias, who also plan to incorporate woven African bowls and beachy accents—such as shells and iced refreshments fitting for an aprés ocean or swim but pre-party winding down period—said that their brown, tan and white color scheme will contain a mix of “new and old, with a summer feel.”

Jamie Berger, ARF’s director of marketing and communications, said that she has high hopes for this year’s Designer Showhouse event. The fundraiser has historically brought in approximately 20 percent of ARF’s annual operating budget.

“This has become absolutely instrumental to us,” she said. “Not only is it a great event but it also taps into different kinds of people; connecting the design world with our cause.”

While looking over her space one last time on Friday, Ann Madonia shared Ms. Berger’s enthusiasm for the annual Showhouse fundraiser.

“We certainly love to support this,” said the animal lover. “It’s for people who love animals, it’s for people who love design. And look at all the goodies they can buy. If this year is only half as good as last year, it’s going to be over the top!”

The third annual ARF Designer Showhouse kicks off with a preview cocktail party on Saturday, May 25, at 5 p.m. Tickets for the exclusive preview hour, from 5 to 6 p.m., are $250. General admission, starting at 6 p.m., will be $150. The evening will also include a selection of ARF dogs and cats available for adoption. The Showhouse will remain open on Sunday, May 26, and Monday, May 27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, with a suggested donation of $10. For more information, call 537-0400, ext. 216, email or visit

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