In a Cutchogue attic, live greens woven with twinkling lights hang from the ceiling beams, a bench swing is draped with a furry white throw and — because this is the North Fork — an antique bird cage sways over the stairwell with two live roosters and a hen inside.
Creating this imaginative space is all in a day’s work for designer Conni Cross, one of the dozens of collaborators behind a charity event where designers and crafters have transformed a 19th century farmhouse into something that is part show house, part holiday bazaar.
“You can help a good cause and enjoy yourself at the same time,” Cross said. “It’s like a grown-up version of playing house.”
The event, dubbed Christmas at the Show House and Best of North Fork Emporium, opens to the public Friday, Nov. 28. The show house will feature furnished rooms decorated for the holidays, works by local artists and crafts and food from local artisans.
“We have 40 North Fork [artisans] crammed in here,” said Bob Tapp, one of the event’s organizers. “It’s like a pop-up mini department store.”
The event will take place in the same 12-room 1835 farmhouse as an August fundraiser featuring a similar concept (minus the holiday angle) and organized by the same people. The vacant home, next to the Village Green in Cutchogue, is on loan from the Cutchogue Presbyterian Church.
Proceeds from the holiday-themed event will benefit the Wounded Warriors Project, local families in need and Mondays at Racine, a charity providing spa services to women who are suffering from cancer.
Local businesses like The Giving Room in Southold, and Clawflowers florist and Clarke’s Garden center in Greenport, will be selling their wares. A portion of the merchandise sales will benefit the church.
Santa’s Christmas Tree Farm in Cutchogue has donated the exterior decorations and North Fork Self Storage is the corporate sponsor, Tapp said.
“It’s providing great exposure for the businesses out here,” said Tapp, who will be selling faux baubles at the show house under the moniker “The Bling King” and donating the proceeds to charity.
On Friday, designers were using whatever materials were available to turn the rooms into inviting holiday-themed vignettes.
Using branches she foraged from the outdoors, a sea shell-studded string of Christmas lights and a white and silver anchor hung over the room’s fireplace, designer Christine McCabe was creating a second floor room befitting of the North Fork’s maritime history.
“It’s a white Christmas, but a little bit on the nautical side for the nautical people out here,” McCabe said. “There will be a lot of silver candles and things like that.”
A few rooms over, Kathy Peretta of Phoebe and Belle in Cutchogue showed off the upstairs sitting room, recently wallpapered with a red and green pattern she had ordered from Jaipur, India.
The usability of the imported garment was uncertain when she removed it from its packaging and could only smell the offensive odor of chemicals, she said.
“I soaked it in a couple of gallons of vinegar and the smell came right out,” said Peretta, who used liquid starch to adhere the cotton fabric to the walls. “We took a risk.”
Christmas at the Show House and Best of North Fork Emporium will run Nov. 28 -30 and Dec. 5-7 and Dec. 12-14 from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Entry is $10 per person.
It is located at 27150 Main Road in Cutchogue.
See more photos on the following page.