Judging the Hamptons Designer Showhouse 2009

Not that anyone asked me to. Or I should say "us" as I was accompanied by two discerning comrades-in-arms, David and Eric.

This year's showhouse - for the most part - was a testament to safe, good taste. Or safe bland taste. These are conservative times and it isn't surprising that many of the designers didn't make their room an occasion to splash out and employ all their derring-do. In a way, it's enough of a gamble for them to even take part in a showhouse as it is a costly venture for them, and lets face it, these are tough times for the design trade.

That said, what I hope for when I visit a showhouse is to be wowed, surprised, and inspired - in a word, a "show". Which is why I adored this terrace setting below....

with the bizarre Carol Channing umbrella...
Channing in "Hello Dolly!", 1964; photo by Richard Braaten

Even though David chose it as his worst, for me, it epitomizes Arnold Bennett's famous epigram, “Good taste is better than bad taste, but bad taste is better than no taste.” Amen.

David and I did agree on the winner however:

This heavenly master bedroom sitting room by Hamilton Design Associates. The eye-popping wallpaper by Suzy Hoodless,

pochoir print from the 1911 Les Choses de Paul Poiret by Georges Lepape

which reminds me of couturier Paul Poiret, would have been enough,

but the ebony Anglo-Indian colonial furniture upholstered in clear, bright hues and the huge Tina Barney photograph pushed this to the top of my list.

Eric's top choice, which was a close second for me, was Bradley Thiergartner's bedroom. A touch nautical, a touch "Death in Venice."

Special mention also goes to Nathan Egan for a bedroom all ready for David Banda when he's a teenager and Jennifer Garrigues' master bedroom.

For more info:
Hampton Designer Showhouse
179 David’s Lane
Water Mill, NY

Open Daily Monday to Sunday
July 26 to September 6
11AM to 5PM

Admission is $30 and includes a Journal

Click here to visit an online slideshow, courtesy of Newsday.