A place to call home, shelter dogs and all

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Just passing through the opening night cocktail party for the Hamptons Designer Showhouse, presented by HC&G, to benefit Stony Brook Southampton Hospital.

I might have been an adult when we sold our childhood home, but, I cried like a baby. I couldn’t even let it go. As it was flipped, shown and renovated, there I was, telling contractors my dad had built it — could I take a look? I shuddered through its first renovation. Rejoiced to hear it would be “restored to the original.” Then it was razed. The Fryds freaked out. Karmic payback for developers, I guess. Such is the story of Miami Beach waterfront.

TriBeCa BFF’s Venessa Merrin and Victoria Meakin. We met through our dogs.

I thought of that house when I heard my TriBeCa neighbors Victoria Meakin and David Feldman were selling their 1832 historic Hamptons home after 17 years. With their two children grown, the sprawling 7,500 square foot home, carriage house and three acres felt a bit much. First, they lent it to the Hamptons Designer Showhouse.

We checked out the newly burnished rooms at the opening night cocktail party. Presented by HC&G (Hamptons Cottages & Gardens) to benefit Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, designers Jamie Drake and Alexa Hampton were Honorary Design Chairs. Kendell Cronstrom is HC&G Editorial Director.

“It was a magical time and place to raise the kids,” Victoria said of those years at Ivy Lodge. “They were six and eight when we bought it. Their childhoods really unfolded here.” Bookcases hid secret doors. There was plenty of room for her sister’s family to visit. Toys were retired to a little room upstairs dubbed the Museum of Childhood.

“That was the hardest to let go,” Victoria said. “It was something out of the Secret Garden, with toys, books and wooden dolls. But, it’s now a beautiful mid century modern office. The designers did a nice job honoring the home’s original charm. It’s exciting — and very liberating — to embrace the change.”

The 7,500 square foot home includes a carriage house and three acres.

That original charm was always the draw. “I grew up in a 1600s Dutch settlement house in Harrington Park, New Jersey, so, a house built in 1832 didn’t even feel so old,” Meakin continued. “When we found it, it was falling apart. It was a rabbit warren of tiny little interconnected rooms that didn’t make sense. You could see every bit of the evolution, frozen in the ’70s. But, we fell in love with its history and the beautiful pond in the back that looks like a Monet painting. And we were among those few hale and hearty with the stomach to rebuild from the studs.”

The original house before Victoria Meakin gave it over to the showhouse to redo …

The GC in charge of the Showhouse, Paul Fried, of Hampton Restoration, also needed a hale and hearty stomach to do the required construction — bathrooms, kitchen, and more — in only four weeks.

GC Paul Fried with a well deserved drink.

“The finished place has a sense of continuity which isn’t easy when you have 21 designers working under one roof,” Fried told me. “The thesis was to have a common thread running through all of it, so the place would look cohesive and appeal to the largest market. We wanted it nice enough to sell the property but not so nice that the owners decided to keep it! From what I understand, they’ve already have two offers, so all that hard work paid off.”

“Funny what a small town it is that everyone knows there was a bidding war,” Meakin marveled. Neighbors knew the details almost as quickly as she did.

There are lots of reasons to want it. “There’s still a lot of supply chain issues and getting quality people is also a challenge,” said Fried.

“Can you work in Manhattan?” Ready to hire Isabel Orlansky asked. “I can barely handle Montauk,” he laughed.

The designers who made it happen: Amy Kummer Interiors, Baltimore Design Group, Barbara Ostrom Associates, Inc., Chad James Group, Collette Home, Courtney Sempliner Designs, Dee Ann Design, Donna Benedetto Designs, Elsa Soyars Interiors, Kim Tomasino Interiors, Laurie Duke Design, Leila Pinto Fine Art, The Lewis Design Group, LGC Interior Design, Mabley Handler Interior Design, Robert Brown Interior Design, Sea Green Designs, SilverLining Inc., Sloane Luxury Interiors with Sloane by Hand by Shaunali Nanda and Tiffany Eastman Interiors.

The designers.

Paul Winum and Leila Pinto.
Brian and Alexandra Brady.
Brian Brady and Pamela Eldridge.
Brogan Lane, Jean-Luc Sievet, Tisha Collette, Gia Pavon, and friends.
Alex Cohen, Elsa Soyars, Federico Azevedo, and James Peyton.
Steven Stolman, Rich Wilkie, Sydney Cleven, and Jen Kading.
Francesca Beale and Barbara Reuter.
L. to r.: Schumacher’s Maria LaCava; Frederico Azevedo and Alex Cohen.
Joseph Aldrich and Chad James.
Kendell Cronstrom and Rachelle Louis.
Tony Bowles, Aisha Christian, and Jean Shafiroff.
The Mabley Handler team.
Lindsey Pearson, Brett Kummar, and Lindsay Sikes.
Gary Ciuffo, Mary Anne Ciuffo, and Tony Manning.
Brett, Amy, and Caroline Kummer.

Supply was a big issue for Barbara Ostrom, as she redid the master bedroom. “I had to use everything that was in stock,” she told me. “For the double height ceiling above the master bed, I designed an eight-foot mirrored headboard. I used the new Anna French wall covering from Thibault, which won the Roscoe Award, the equivalent of the Oscars. Chris Mead of English Country Homes gave me a lot of the accessories. Christopher Guy, who did the mirror, only had furniture in different colors on hand. Luckily, Stark Carpet had a rug I could use with all the same hues. So it worked out.” The finishing touch? Showing decorator porn/middle aged women’s fantasy flick “Something’s Gotta Give” on the TV.

Victoria Meakin’s original bedroom. Check out the double height ceiling above the bed that inspired Barbara Ostrom’s headboard.
Barbara Ostrom’s eight-foot mirrored headboard.
Diane Keaton hits the right note for Barbara Ostrom’s master bedroom.
Foyer by Chad James Group. Showhouse photos courtesy of HC&G and Tria Giovan
Kitchen by Dee Ann Design.
Formal Living Room by Mabley Handler Interior Design.
Sunroom by Elsa Soyars Interiors.
Bedroom 3 by Sea Green Designs.
Keith Baltimore’s primary bath featuring fixtures and fittings by Kohler.

Up another flight of stairs, we were struck by a small, beautiful room, and the story that went with it. Shaunali Nanda of Sloane Luxury Interiors, who divides her time between New York and New Delhi, spent the pandemic raising money for the storied local craftsman she has worked with all her life. Her mother is a decorator and owns a quality furniture company in India.

Shaunali Nanda for Sloane Luxury Interiors with Sloane by Hand, in her jewel box of a room filled with the handiwork of Indian artisans.

Seeing those artisans stranded in New Delhi during the pandemic inspired Nanda to step up to the plate. “There were no trains, no buses, no money, no food,” she remembered. “They were holding their belongings and walking. They needed to be fed, to find work and returned to their families.” She created a huge campaign that got 2,000 home. Examples of their handiwork — block prints, papier-mâché, pottery, Kashmir crewel rugs — filled her room.

“The potter and miniature painters in Jaipur, the local village women who paint while breast-feeding, the master tailors stitching drapes, pillows and piping, all depend on daily wages to support their families,” she told me. “They do not leave their regions. Papier-mâché will always be made at the old city of Srinagar in Kashmir. For two years, some of them were not able to produce anything. They accepted those losses graciously. Now, they are coming back with smiles and wanting to work. This is for them.” Coincidentally, that room once housed Victoria’s Indian nanny. More Karma from walls that seemingly can talk.

All the home needs now is a shelter dog. Hamptons elite rescue them from kill shelters to fly private. Like Nanda, Elizabeth Shafiroff turned her heart and conscience into activism. Five years ago, she founded Global Strays to minister to animal welfare in indigent countries, first in South America and now Africa. She turned Global Strays fourth gala at Naia (at the Capri hotel) into a multi-generational party with a club vibe, raising close to $100,000. “We’re a fledging organization,” Liz told me. “And in the countries we serve, that little bit goes a long way.”

Elizabeth Shafiroff with her beau Richard Ballard, and Geronimo.

Ingrid Arneberg, Renee Amorosi, Janna Bullock, Eugenia Valliades, Randi Schatz, Jean Shafiroff, Georgina Bloomberg and Kim Renk were the host committee. “I love the energy at this party,” Karen Klopp told me. As did Liliana Cavendish, Robin Leacock, Henry Buhl, Rebecca Seawright, Lucia Hwong Gordon, Kate McEntee and Missy Hargraves.

Candace Bushnell, Ann Caruso, Liliana Cavendish, and Pamela Dove.
Aubrey Leclair, Nicole Titus, and Seraina Lewis.
Libbie Mugrabi and Patrick McMullan.
Liliana Cavendish, Kenneth Fishel, and Elisabeth Halfpapp.
Peter Goldstone, Jill Ravitz, Renee Downing, Rebecca Oliveira, and Peter Mangiameli.
Janna Bullock and R. Couri Hay.
Eugenia Bullock, Tatiana Garcia, John Gordon, and Katia Brody.
L. to r.: Noreen Donovan; Tina Glandian and Liz Shapiro.
Jason Katz and Cameron Sadeghi.
Hannah and Joy Pak.
L. to r.: Jay and Iris Dankner; Stacy Francis and Anastacia Jones.
Henry Buhl, Christine Delisle, and Ken Klein.
Eugenia Valliades and Elizabeth Shafiroff.
Twahlee Rollins and Regitze Christensen.
L. to r.: Bridget Marks, Ellie Manko, and Liane Pei; Tatiana Garcia and Eugenia Bullock.
Nancy Pearson, Pamela O’Connor, and Stacey Ross Cohen.
Liane Pei and Paige Boller.
Lucia Hwong Gordon and Jack Hartnett.

Liz found her life’s mission the first time she looked into the eyes of an animal she saved from a kill shelter. She brought death row Pit Bulls home to mom and dad, to be coddled and loved.

Traveling through Central and South America she saw stray animals starving and a population too poor to help. “There were emaciated animals rummaging through garbage, that looked like they were dying of starvation,” she told me. “They were running around everywhere, even on the highways. Ten years ago in a Nicaraguan slum, I saw a dog tied up all day without food or water. It was so sick, it could barely move. I found its owners. They couldn’t afford to care for it and were grateful when I offered. I took it to a vet, saved its life and worked with a local rescue organization to find a home. That inspired me to start Global Strays, to partner with animal welfare professionals in impoverished areas.”

Liz’s mission keeps growing. “It’s also become about the pet owners and their communities,” she said, “to provide spay, neutering, veterinarian care and educational workshops for the next generation.” She recently found a program in Liberia, Africa, to emulate and support.

Last year, she bought a farm in Austin, Texas to live in with longtime love, Richard Ballard. There she can “connect with more animals, and how they relate to each other.” She’ll start with two goats from a slaughter house. “I promise not to hoard animals!” she laughs. If she does, she wouldn’t be the first. We’ll follow her menagerie — and Global Strays — as they grow.

Elizabeth with Richard’s (now their) dog Sherman, and Daisy, Elizabeth’s “soulmate dog” who died suddenly in April, leaving the Shafiroffs bereft.

Photographs by Lisa Tamburini (HC&G) and Patrick McMullan (Global Strays)

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