While visiting a furniture sale held by the Southold Historical Society this past summer, an antique wooden cabinet caught the eye of interior designer Lori Guyer.
When Guyer, the owner of White Flower Farmhouse in Southold, inquired about the price of the cabinet, she was told she could have it for free on one condition: She had to agree to decorate the Ann Currie-Bell House for the historical society’s first Home for the Holidays Show House fundraiser.
“We have always decorated the house for the candlelight tour the day after Thanksgiving,” explained Karen Lund-Rooney, executive director of Southold Historical Society. “We thought this year — since Lori is decorating it for the very first time and she’s well known for her good eye for decorating — we would open it up as a show house for the general public and have an opportunity for people to see the decorations and hear a little bit about the history of the house.”
Built in 1901, the late Victorian-style house served as the childhood home to Ann Currie-Bell, the historical society’s founder. She later moved back into the home with her husband, Tom, and lived there until her death in 1964. The home is now owned by the Southold Historical Society.
Guyer has infused her signature style and numerous decorations from her personal collection into the space with historically accurate holiday decorations. However, she has opted for a bit more color than the monochromatic palette of her Southold store.
“I thought to change [the decoration style] up a bit and make it something different that they’ve never had,” Guyer said of her design plan. “I wanted to do it more authentic to the building.”
To deck the home, Guyer visited the Eastern Long Island Hospital Opportunity Shop in Greenport and purchased antique ornaments that date from the early 1900s to the 1940s, old Christmas tinsel and more.
“Finding the decorations was a little challenging until I had that idea,” she said. “The ELIH Opportunity Shop was a huge savior for me because they had everything I needed.”
She also got permission from the historical society to use some of the antique toys kept in the Ann Currie-Bell House — dolls, a dollhouse that looks similar to the home itself, a wooden toy rocking horse and a teddy bear — to place under the three decorated trees inside the home.
“I did it very authentic and very old Christmas with the lighted tinsel and antique ornaments,” Guyer said. “I think it’ll be very nostalgic for people because they’re going to go in there and see things that they either grew up with, or their parents had or their grandparents had. I think the kids will love seeing the toys.”
Paintings from the historical society’s Peconic School of Artists collection will also adorn the walls of the home.
The tour will take place on the first floor of the building. In addition to the three Christmas trees, Guyer is putting the finishing touches on all the rooms with string lights, hanging stockings and more.
After the event, all of the decorations Guyer purchased will be donated to the historical society for future use.
The Home for the Holidays Show House fundraiser is part of a weekend of holiday activities hosted by the historical society. A tree lighting is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 24. Local author Jean Marie Pierson will offer a reading and signing of her book, “The Light in the Woods,” on Saturday, Nov. 25.
Guests can tour the Ann Currie-Bell House on Sundays, Nov. 26 and Dec. 3, from 1 to 4 p.m. Entry is $10 per person for adults and free for children. Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance by visiting the Southold Historical Society office.