The holidays are upon us, but before unpacking every Christmas and Hanukkah decoration or shopping for new ones, designers are giving the gift of insight into what is trending this season.
“There is a big shift away from the silvers and the greens, stainless steel and the brushed nickel,” says Keith Mazzei of Keith Mazzei Interiors in Syosset. “Now it’s all about gold.”
Owls and starbursts are big for decorative accents this year, designers say. And freshly cut Christmas trees will always be a holiday staple, but more people are enjoying the artificial pre-lit tree varieties that mimic the natural evergreen needles for their low-maintenance appeal.
“Pre-lit are fabulous and they are very popular now,” says Rosemarie diSalvo of Garden City-based diSalvo Interiors. “People don’t want to wrestle with those lights that are on the real tree.”
She recalls her own tree-decorating drama pushing her over the edge.
“It took me days to string lights on the tree,” she says. “Once the holidays were over, I just threw out the tree with the lights still on them but kept the ornaments.”
Pre-lit trees come in a number of different sizes and styles, with energy-efficient LED bulbs.
When it comes to ornaments, anything goes, from handblown and hand-painted, to photographed to engraved, classic Norman Rockwell, Lenox, and Hallmark, variety to all those oldies but goodies.
“Nothing goes out of style with Christmas tree ornaments,” diSalvo says. “People collect ornaments. People gift ornaments. I still have my parents’ ornaments made from papier-mâché and those boxing-glove ornaments. I love them. I think people save their ornaments because it brings back so many memories.”
Decorating the chandeliers, fireplace mantel, windows, and staircase with artificial garlands and artificial poinsettias are a better choice than the real thing.
“When fresh garland dries it looks horrible and when pine dries out it doesn’t have a nice odor,” diSalvo says. “Poinsettias are very festive but require a lot of care. Unless you have a green thumb, they may not last through the season.”
As to Hanukkah decor, DiSavlo has seen Christmas trees becoming more prevalent with some of her clients who celebrate Hanukkah.
“Within the last five years, having a tree in the house has gotten more mainstream,” she says. “Families are more blended so there is an openness to enjoy all these holidays. They may decorate them differently but like the seasonable ambiance of having a tree in their home.”
The menorah that represents the celebration of the Festival of Lights is placed not only in the window but as a beautiful centerpiece, for all to enjoy.
In fact, decorating is no longer limited to the living room or dining room. People are placing decorations all over the house, such as elves in bathrooms or assorted colored dreidels hanging from the light fixtures.
“People tend to take out everything from their childhood because Christmas and Hanukkah are about memories and the holiday,” says diSalvo. “Personally, I don’t like clutter, but if things are overcluttered this time of year it is perfectly acceptable.”
Mike and Joanne McEnroy are getting ready for their move from Country Pointe Nesconset to Country Pointe Meadows in Yaphank.
Unlike others who spend months house hunting, the McEnroys’ search was simple. They went with the same builder of their previous home, the Beechwood Organization, one of the largest homebuilders and developers of lifestyle communities and privately owned residences on Long Island.
“It’s a quality home,” says McEnroy, who was excited and wanted in when he learned that the 400-home condominium lifestyle community for adults aged 55-plus was available. “We were looking for a more active community for 50- and 60-plus, and we liked the resort-style atmosphere.”
Their new home is identical in size to the one they had previously. A corner unit, it has two bedrooms, second-floor den and loft area, living room with fireplace, dining room, kitchen, two-car garage, and landscaping with a pond and waterfall.
Part of the development is the community offering plenty to do. It has a state-of-the-art 11,000-square-foot clubhouse to enjoy and other amenities that feature a ballroom, card room, sports lounge with bar, fitness room, treatment room, concierge and activities director, two outdoor heated swimming pools, and tennis and bocce ball courts.
Steven Dubb, a principal with the Beechwood Organization, says buyers are coming from Nassau, Suffolk, Brooklyn, and Queens, and that the development is on the pulse of what a homebuyer is looking for today.
“They want more volume in their home,” he says. “They want to be able to entertain in the kitchen and be able to talk to their guests in the living room at the same time. Our homes have open floor plans that flow easily. It allows the empty nester to have friends and family over and make the first level of the home a communal space.”
Country Pointe Meadows is the homeownership dimension of The Boulevard, a 322-acre smart growth mixed-used development on the grounds of the former Parr Meadows racetrack, that will include retail stores, a park and dog park, a hotel, a baseball field, and track, rental apartments and an assisted living facility.
The Boulevard concept appealed to the McEnroys, who spend part of the winter months in Florida and enjoy easy access to the shops and restaurants nearby.
“We have that down in Florida, so we really like that,” he says.
According to Dubb, buyers can choose from 1,470 to more than 2,100 square feet of living space in single-floor villas or two-story townhomes, with with prices from $489,000 up to $700,000.
“It’s a tremendous value,” says Dubb. “You can get a lot of house for that dollar amount and quality. And, the amenities are second to none.”
He is certain that the low real estate taxes are a big draw for a buyer.
“For a $500,000 home, the taxes are $5,000 to $6,000 a year,” he points out. “For Long Island residents who want to stay on Long Island but are tired of paying ridiculously high real estate taxes, this is the answer for them.”
Word is catching on. Since the units opened for sale last year, more than 15 percent have been sold.
Hold onto your cocktail, darling … it’s all about ’50s glam this holiday season.
Think sophisticated styles like the vintage tuxedo jacket, lace peplum, leather leggings, bejeweled bags and statement rings. And for footwear, the chunky-heel bootie in velvet and the return of the ’50s point low-stiletto heel.
“Last season we saw full-on, head-to-toe bling, this season is more carefully edited with one item standing out,” says Mitchell Kass, founder of Trend Council, a Long Island-based company that provides trend analysis and design inspiration for designers and buyers. Holiday 2018 is all about luxury and separates that make a statement, says Kass.
“Bohemian looks are not as popular this season,” she says. “Sequin was so overplayed last year that is out and the bodycon/bondage dress is out too.”
For readers who want to get a similar look, Kass offers some practical advice before you shop: “Local boutiques and online retailers will carry these items, but be aware that some shops have a very long lead time on delivery and sizing will be different for each online store.”
With a career spanning nearly seven decades on stage, screen and television, Robert Wagner’s handsome good looks and charm are as remarkable as they ever were.
“I always wanted to be in the business as an actor,” says Wagner during an interview with the Press from his home in Aspen that he shares with his wife, actress Jill St. John. “I was very lucky and very fortunate.”
He has starred in more than 80 productions, including his famous TV role as dashing Jonathan Hart in the 1979 detective series Hart to Hart, and his memorable turn as Number 2, the villainous henchman to Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers feature films. Wagner’s climb to stardom started in the 1950s.
His first film was The Happy Years. After signing with 20th Century Fox and garnering rave reviews for his supporting role in the World War II movie Halls of Montezuma (1951) and the post-war patriotic film With A Song in My Heart (1952), Wagner got noticed.
He later shared the screen with Hollywood greats such as Fred Astaire in the TV series It Takes a Thief, Audrey Hepburn in Long Among Thieves, and Elizabeth Taylor in There Must Be a Pony (both made-for-TV movies),and David Niven in the Pink Panther feature films.
Now 88, Wagner has continued his love affair with show business. Last month, the Gold Coast International Film Festival awarded him the Burton Moss Hollywood Golden Era Award. The award is named for the agent who represented some of Hollywood’s finest and pays tribute to film legends who may not have been honored appropriately during their lifetime.
The award itself is a sculpture, an original work of art created by renowned sculptor Edwina Sandys, granddaughter of Sir Winston Churchill. The first award was given last year in honor of the late Hollywood star Rita Hayworth, whose daughter accepted the award on her mother’s behalf in a private ceremony.
In 2008, Wagner penned an intimate memoir, Pieces of My Heart: A Life, that highlights his career and and the drama and the romances he shared. He talks about his good fortune and the mentors he had.
“When I was a kid I was crazy about Clark Gable, whom he described as ‘the motion picture idol of that time,’” he recalls. “ I worked at this golf course and caddied for him. I told him I was interested in going into the film biz and being an actor. He helped me. Spencer Tracy was wonderful to me. He put his arm around me and said that I could be somebody.”
Wagner also talks about his late wife Natalie Wood and the mystery surrounding her 1981 death off California’s Santa Catalina Island. He writes about the emotional experience he had writing this book and how he almost didn’t complete it.
“There’s been many things written about Natalie and me,” he says. “I just wanted to put it down as honestly and as truthfully as I remember it. We were married twice; we had a tremendous love affair. As most people know, she died and our life went on.
“That is part of the book,” he continues. “It went on with much help because of my children and my present wife and from my friends, who all gathered around me and helped me get back on my feet.”
At the Gold Coast Arts Center last month, Regina Gil, founder and executive director of the Gold Coast Arts Center and its Gold Coast International Film Festival, presented the award to Wagner.
“American culture owes a debt of gratitude to the pioneers of the film and television industry for creating out of whole cloth a form of entertainment that is accessible to the ordinary individual, and that has had the potential to educate and transform the thinking of millions of people,” Gil said. “The producers, directors, actors, and technicians who dreamed worked, invented, reinvented, and developed what we know today as Hollywood were the greats of this industry, upon whose shoulders today’s stars stand. Robert Wagner has a long view of this pond, having served in film and television as a leading man and talented actor.”
Congratulations on getting the Burton Moss Hollywood Golden Era Award. Isn’t that a wonderful honor? A lot of wonderful charities are going to benefit.
You are from Detroit, Michigan and grew up in Bel Air. Do you have any connection here on Long Island? I have spent time here on Long Island over the years and always loved it.
Any favorite places you like to visit when you are on Long Island? The Gold Coast is a wonderful place. The history is amazing, and all the people of Hollywood who have lived here or been here is quite extraordinary.
Would you say that the dashing Jonathan Hart was one of your favorite roles to play? One that you most identified with? I loved doing Hart to Hart and playing Jonathon Hart. I loved the character. Stefanie [Powers] was great. The chemistry was great. Lionel Stander was great. I identified with the role because you put a lot of yourself in it when you are playing a part for so long. It was a hit and wonderful to be involved in something like that. The audience picked up on it worldwide, and it played it in 87 countries.
What are some of the projects you are working on now? I have been in NCIS. I enjoy it. I love that character. There is quite a bit of me in that character, too. I will be doing one of those beginning the first of the year. I have a couple of movies that they are talking to me about doing.
When you played the son in the movie Broken Lance with Spencer Tracy early in your career, how was that experience for you? That picture changed my life. I met Edward Dmytryk who was a wonderful director, and of course, Spencer Tracy was very generous to me. They went on to make a picture called The Mountain in Europe. I went to Europe with Spence and Eddie Dymtryk; it was the first time I was there. He gave me co-star billing above the title, which changed my whole career.
It must have been an exciting time to be part of the Hollywood landscape back in the day. How would you compare it to today’s landscape? In those days when I started, if somebody said I am interested in that, the response would be, “Let’s go for it. Let’s try it.” I think today corporate influence has taken over many aspects of our industry. It is very hard to keep the personal involvement in a project because it has to be discussed by so many people who all have different ideas. Many people have opinions before something is made. Some are good, some are not so good.
What advice can you give to those starting out in the profession? You have to have a lot of self-confidence today in everything that you do. You have to believe in your ideas and your idealism, and I think you have to maintain that. I think it is something very important.
Can you tell us about some of your mentors during those early years? I was a tremendous fan of Clark Gable and Cary Grant. As a kid I just looked up at the silver screen and said, “Boy, I’d like to do that.” I was just fortunate. I started going out as a kid doing scenes for people and auditioning and doing anything to try to get in the business. Finally, I met this wonderful dramatic teacher at 20th Century Fox. She said I think he’s got something. There I was in the movies and I loved it. At 75 bucks a week, taking home 55. And I loved it. I was in the movies. Everybody was really great to me.
If there was someone who could play you in a movie, whom might that be? Michael Weatherly, who played me in a movie. I love Michael, and I don’t think anybody can do it better.
When Jason Ambesi is not hugging a pole for his job as a utility worker, he is hugging strangers while moonlighting as a certified cuddlist, or professional cuddler.
The six-foot-one-inch tall, 250-pound tattooed military veteran, who can easily pass for a professional linebacker, hopes his touch therapy can heal those suffering from post-traumatic-stress-disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and loneliness.
“It’s proven: One hug a day gives you four days of better healthy living,” says Ambesi, 44. “Hand-to-hand stimulation, communication, talking and just being touched by someone releases oxytocin.”
Oxytocin is the feel-good hormone also known as the “cuddle hormone,” which gives a feeling of well-being when released by the body. A Developmental Review analysis reports that hugging can lower stress, decrease heart rate and blood pressure, boost immunity, reduce fear and pain, improve communication and increase self-esteem.
Ambesi, who spent eight years in the military — four years as an Army police officer and four years as an Air Force firefighter — admits he found it challenging to connect with others once he came back to civilian life.
“I was feeling empty in some scenarios,” he says. “My certification can help those soldiers coming out of the military. They have a hard time adapting to the civilian sector and my training in trusted touch therapy and awareness can help someone live a better day.”
Adam Lippin, a meditation and yoga practitioner for more than two decades, is the co-founder and CEO of Cuddlist, a service founded in 2016 that provides a safe, nonsexual, consensual touch therapy for people to connect in a society where many people are losing touch with others and themselves.
“We’re touch deprived, and most of us don’t even know it consciously,” says Lippin. “We all want love, acceptance and connection with other people. We’re social beings, and this connection with others is part of our emotional, physical and spiritual DNA.”
Before a session is booked there is a vetting process. All cuddlists establish ground rules during the meeting and, if either party feels uncomfortable at any point, they can end the session at any time.
Ambesi offers 30- and 60-minute sessions in his Plainview home. For those who need a hug right away and cannot travel, Ambesi makes house calls.
“I feel the therapy I give to someone else is actually therapy for me, too.”
After a three-year renovation Lord & Taylor in Manhasset will be celebrating its grand reopening on Dec. 7 offering an array of services that will make the shopping experience more personal.
Lord & Taylor President Vanessa LeFebvre shared her enthusiasm about some of these exciting new developments taking place and her vision for the retail giant.
“We are really focused on communicating with our communities and with our customer to make sure they understand some of the of the things we offer,” LeFebvre told the Press. “Personal shopping is a great example of something we offer. I think people think it is something you have to pay money for.
“It is a service we provide on your budget,” she continued. “It doesn’t mean we are going to push you to pay more money. It is about providing a service to you and help making it easier to help find what you are looking for and we can tailor that to any budget.”
Some of these services include assistance in finding a special occasion dress for that party; finding the right bra size or foundation for a customer’s skin tone.
“I think it is 80 percent of women are wearing the wrong bra size,” said LeFebvre. “You can come any day and get assistance with your bra fitting.
“Our services in beauty are everything from being able to get a consultation on your skin care and not just walking up to the counter, but finding out what is the best brand for you,” she added.
The Manhasset Lord & Taylor is one of four stores on Long Island. Their other locations include Garden City, Bay Shore, and the Walt Whitman Mall in Huntington.
And, all the stores and distinctive in the clients they serve, said LeFebvre.
“They are all distinctive based on the communities they serve,” said LeFebvre. “Garden City is just next door, but the experiences are different. What we want to do is make ourselves more focused on who is the customer that is coming into the store, what problems do they have and how can we help them solve those problems.”
That being said, with the holiday shopping season in full swing, LeFebvre invites everyone to stop in all day every day.
“We are excited to be open for the holidays,” she says, “You can shop with confidence. And we are going to be here in the New Year.”
Designers, contractors, businesses, educational institutions, entertainers, organizations, and volunteers from across Long Island banded together to rebuild a mortgage-free turnkey Mastic home that will soon be donated to a veteran in need.
The veteran will not be just any American armed service member, but one who was honorably discharged, has local ties, is a Purple Heart recipient, and served after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Those are the rules of the nonprofit Fairway Foundation, the nonprofit arm of Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation, which raised money over a four-year period to acquire the three-bedroom ranch.
“We are looking for a veteran with the greatest need for a home, not the greatest injury,” says Rosemarie Kluepfel of Fairway, a leading lender to veterans. “A veteran who may be struggling to pay his or her rent or someone who may have a special needs child or a veteran who is suffering from PTSD.”
The need is great. LI has one of the highest populations of veterans in New York State and has the third highest concentration of vets nationwide.
Those involved in the project include the Interior Design Society (IDS) Long Island chapter’s Pay It Forward charitable division, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), plus tradesman and retailers.
“When it came to do this project and to serve a purple heart veteran, our excitement and desire to be part of it was even greater because many of our members have served in the military,” says NARI Board Vice President Laurence Carolan.
Though the house was structurally sound, it was in need of renovations that included adding a new kitchen, new bathrooms and the addition of a shower in the second bathroom. An electrician donated his time and rewired the entire house including the installation of recessed lighting. The team refinished wood floors, installed new doors, tiled the bathrooms, and is currently in the process of painting the interior and restoring the exterior porch.
The project is set to be completed over the next month. The winner will be announced on Nov. 11, Veterans Day.
“The home will be completely furnished with new furnishings, drapery, blinds, artwork,” says Dee Manicone, lead designer for the IDS charitable committee. “All that is necessary to allow the awarded family to move into a comfortable, casual, transitional-style home.”
When stepping into the kitchen of this Port Washington home, the chic vibe feels like the perfect place to throw a dinner party.
That feeling is what interior designer Marlene Friedberg was going for and she pulled it off seamlessly. Friedberg worked alongside her team of contractors and architects to transform her traditional-style kitchen into a transitional design that embodies her aesthetic for luxury and glam. Before the renovation project began, she was mindful of using every inch of the space.
Removing walls was a game changer that opened up the kitchen to the rest of her house, specifically the den and great room, creating a spacious area for family gatherings and entertaining.
CONTEMPORARY STYLEImpressed with the kitchen reno by Friedberg’s company, Marlene Interiors & Design, the neighbors decided not to wait and moved forward on their dream kitchen design that went from tired and traditional to a more up-to-the-minute contemporary style that suited their active lifestyle.
The new design moved away from the dark colors, heavy wood, and trims and columns left by the previous owner that the couple described as “obtrusive” since it blocked their view. Friedberg and her team brought their kitchen into the 21st century with a sleek, streamlined design that features minimalist cabinetry, neutral color palettes, metallic accents, and an open floor plan that highlights this light-filled space as the elegant kitchen they had always envisioned.
The Beacon at Garvies Point in Glen Cove is becoming one of the North Shore’s most desirable locations to live, work and play, according to its developers, RXR Realty.
In the last 13 months, more than 65 of the 167 waterfront condominiums built have been sold ahead of the development’s scheduled opening in late 2019. The Beacon offers one-, two-, and three-bedroom residences ranging in size from 900 to 2,850 square feet. Residents can also enjoy a number of outdoor spaces including rooftop terraces at the penthouse level, courtyard terraces, and balconies on nearly every home, along with a
fitness center and yoga studio, club lounge, game room, party room, movie theater and an outdoor pool.
Demand has been so high that prices have gone up three times. The cost of a condo now starts at $700,0000, originally $575,000, and goes up to $2.95 million.
“We’ve increased the prices because the validation is there,” says Joseph Graziose, executive vice president of residential development and construction at RXR Realty, which developed the Ritz-Carlton Residences at North Hills. “When I talk validation, obviously our buyers have validated that this is a great project in a great location with a great developer and they are anxiously awaiting their move-ins.”
The Garvies Point development that started more than a decade ago will soon feature a wide array of amenities that include waterfront parks, esplanades, playgrounds, retail, restaurants and a ferry terminal. The Beacon is phase one of the project that also includes Harbor Landing, a 385-unit, two-building rental complex offering a mix of studios and one- and two-bedroom residences.
Construction is also underway on 28 acres of public open space, which includes an educational ecology pier and restored wetlands. Before the project began, the 50-acre site on Cove Creek and adjacent to the Long Island Sound was blighted land, Graziose notes.
“It was the location of factories many, many years ago, and the property sat there for decades underdeveloped and undernourished,” he says. “We came along and put together a program. When we are all done we will end up with a 56-acre site of which over 50 percent is going to be open space with promenades, parks, walkways, dog areas.”
Graziose has a fondness for Glen Cove. He grew up there and remained there to raise his family.
“When my children were young we used to spend our days at Battery Park City and the World Trade Center area to rollerblade and picnic,” he recalls. “It gave us the environment that was water’s edge, public amenities, and a communal feel. If this existed when I was building I would have saved a lot of gas and stayed in Glen Cove…I am very proud of what we’ve accomplished.”
The entire Garvies Point project is set to be completed over the next three to five years, says Graziose, but The Beacon will open in December 2019.
“When we are all done we will have 1,100 units where 50 percent will be for rentals and 50 percent will be for sale, and then there will be a portion of commercial and retail space,” he adds.
Buyer Rona Tison, a public relations executive, and her husband, an executive with Northwell Health, purchased a two-bedroom condo with a rooftop at The Beacon. They recently relocated from the West Coast, and what sold them after house hunting for several months, were the lifestyle amenities that “other properties did not have,” she explains.
Some of these include the waterfront, views, acres of protected preserve, ferry convenience — Tison works in Manhattan — the reputation of the developers RXR, amenities of the pool, gym, parking, storage, concierge, the design and concept of Garvies Point, and the price for the value.
“We decided it was worth the wait,” says Tison, who lived 18 years in Manhattan and 15 years in Sonoma, Calif. “Garvies Point will be a nice balance of urban living in a scenic environment that also has a sense of community.”
For more information on The Beacon at Garvies Point, visit thebeaconatgarviespoint.com or garviespoint.com. Debra Quinn Petkanas, Associate Real Estate Broker at Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty, 516-674-2000 x 140; or 516-359-3204.
After 50 years in business, En-Toto Couture continues its tradition of bringing stunning one-of-a-kind customized special occasion gowns to the community.
“People might come in and show us a picture of a dress or something they saw on social media, and we can make it from scratch for them,” says Sunny Merker of En-Toto Couture.
Patty, the dressmaker and salesperson who has been creating custom-made designs that are very much in demand since 1908, is an integral part of the En-Toto Couture design team.
“It is not only beaded dresses we create,” says Merker, “but any type of funky-looking dress, lace dress, or something made of chiffon.”
Floor-length dresses are classic and always popular, but Merker has been seeing the high-low style and cocktail dresses as some of the latest trends.
Some of the designers’ creations they carry include Paula Varsalona, Tina di Martina, Fouy Chov, Jovani, Mon Cheri, and Ideas by Barbara, in addition to their, Enhances collection, a line that showcases their intricate beading.
“Every bead on our dresses is sewn by hand,” says Merker, who uses a centuries-old hand embroidered technique called, Zardosi, popular in India, Iran, and Pakistan. The ornate designs use gold and silver thread, pearls, and precious stones.
“You may think that designing a dress takes only five hours when it really takes 50 hours,” says Merker. “It’s very labor intensive, but all worth when I see how happy my client is.”
Earlier this month, En-Toto Couture had a trunk show showcasing its latest custom-beaded gowns and other collections, which they plan on doing monthly.
En-Toto Couture is located at 13 Glen Cove Rd., Greenvale. They can be reached at entotocouture.net or 516-829-8503.