The Collector’s Room
In the mythical world of the show house, designers can be as quirky as their hearts desire.
Show houses offer a chance for Safavieh’s staff designers to flex their creativity, and sometimes the results can be whimsical. “You’re referring to the stuffed antelopes,” nods Joe Murphy, Safavieh’s head designer, surveying the room at the Mill Neck Manor, a Tudor Revival mansion on 86 acres overlooking Long Island Sound. “It’s true we don’t sell mounted animal heads. But the story we were creating seemed to cry out for taxidermy, so off we went to the taxidermist.”
The trip was actually to a favorite local antiques dealer, who happens to carry a lot of exotic animal mounts. Murphy admits getting carried away with accessories. On a huge library table, an eel fork, which looks like Neptune’s trident, rests atop a gigantic book of hours illuminated by monks in the 14th century. Next to it are fossilized dinosaur eggs and a contraption that looks like a lie detector. “I’m not sure what that machine is for,” says Murphy, “but I like that it seems a little sinister.”
“We dubbed this the Collector’s Room,” continues designer Karin Krinsky. “It’s inspired by the Vanderbilt estate in Centerport, New York. We wanted the feeling of entering an old museum.”
Along with a cabinet of curiosities and the antiques-strewn table, the room contains many bold, fun pieces that are in fact sold by Safavieh, such as an enormous framed print of a zebra, faux fur throws, and layers of hand-knotted rugs from Morocco and elsewhere.
Says Krinsky, “This was our most challenging show house ever because we couldn’t change the finish on the walls, floors or ceiling.” Understandable, as the walls, for instance, are clad in oak paneling salvaged from Tattershall Castle, home of Ralph de Cromwell, Lord Treasurer of England during the reign of Henry VI. “We couldn’t go painting over that!”
Adjacent to the Collector’s Room is a verandah, furnished by Safavieh in collaboration with The Enchanted Home. With its wicker furniture, monogrammed linens and Chinese porcelain, this feminine space is the antithesis of the antiquarian’s lair. Indoors, one expects to see Gomez Addams come around the corner at any moment. Outdoors, it’s not Morticia but Mrs. Astor who could be conjured forth. The two spaces together seem to prove the adage that opposites attract.