SOUTHPORT — The popular, high end interior design show called Rooms With A View held its annual fundraising event, while celebrating 25 years of having raised more than $1,650,000 for the event’s beneficiary, the ministry and mission of the Southport Congregational Church.

Originating with an idea from the church’s committee, which held the Southport Antiques Show fundraiser in the 1980’s and early ‘90’s, they presented a new concept to Southport resident and designer Albert Hadley, who wholeheartedly endorsed and helped develop their new idea of a mini decorators show house highlighting vignettes of design, whereupon Rooms With a View was born.

From 1993 until his death Hadley, the honorary chairman, worked as a tireless participant helping to grow and refine this annual designer showcase, personally choosing and inviting 12 area designers each year. He developed a formula which is still used today: six men, six women, six New York, six Fairfield County, six established and six new designers are invited. Throughout the 25 years, many of the participating designers were at the very early stages of what have now become illustrious careers.

In the 25 years of Rooms With a View, the committee explained, volunteers help to erect the vignettes, and have assembled and disassembled, “300 show house vignettes, each one measuring 6’ x 8’ with 3 sheetrock walls, a celling and electricity. A virtual who’s who of talented interior designers have plastered, wallpapered, trompe l’oeil ed, stuccoed, mirrored, stried, lacquered, and paneled their walls, have laid parquet, sisal, antique tile, marble, limestone and carpet, built bookcases, windows and even fireplaces, before installing furnishings, drapery, antiques, and art.”

“Through this unique venue, we are able to share our creative God-given gifts for the benefit of others as we uplift, support and transform countless lives,” explained Rev. Paul Whitmore, senior minister. “We are deeply honored to have had over 300 highly talented interior designer share their art and design with us, as well as their generosity of spirit.”

Today, more than 2,500 visitors enjoy the event each year and last year more than $280,000 in giving and donations were made, helping to support more than 25 charities. This year’s designers created their vignettes around the theme “25” in honor of the event’s 25th anniversary.

“The inspiration of my vignette is through Albert Hadley, of course, and Andy Warhol, we went for the 25th anniversary with the silver effect,” explained co-chair of the Designers Parker Rogers, of Parker & Company. along with designer Katie Holmberg. “We did a sparkly ceiling with Osborne and Little wallpapering, we tried to use all of the major sponsors of the show’s things, so the floor is a Waterworks marble installed floor, the fabrics are through Donghia, Inc. and it’s an Albert Hadley fireworks inspired and reimagined fabric with beautiful embroidery, the wallpaper is through Farrow and Ball as is all the paint throughout the show and the lighting is through Circa Lighting. I used P.E. Guerin Hardware. I wanted to create a foyer of a wealthy client’s townhouse in NYC.” Extraordinary art was also incorporated.

“The theme we based our design off is 25 for the 25th anniversary of Rooms With a View,” explained Scott Falciglia and John Ortiz, owners of the Tailored Home. “We chose to be inspired by a coming of age, we chose an Alice in Wonderland kind of look because that’s one of the greatest coming of age stories, and we went big on color and pattern and had it be really transformative. We participate in support of where the funds go, it’s an important event.”

“We have a little bit of everything, with our design our focus is always approachable, beautiful living,” said Sandra Halstead, co-owner of the Beehive with Lesley Collins, who participated as vendors in The Shops area. “Most of our clients have young families, they want their homes to be beautiful but they don’t want to be stressed or nervous about ruining things, so we focus on livable fabrics and investments children cannot reach.’

“For the 25th anniversary I tried to incorporate mostly vintage pieces, everything is authentic, it’s a very inviting space and I’m pleased to share it here,” said Alexis Parent of Alexis Parent Interiors. “I grew up in Westport and now live in Fairfield so this is a cause that’s very dear to my heart, they support a lot of important local charities and I’m honored to be a part of it. The design talent in this event is incredible.”

“The proceeds go to 21 charitable organizations in the Greater Bridgeport area,” added Rev. Laura Whitmore. “Our church for 176 years has always had as its mission taking care of our neighbors so all of our mission work is local.”

The event’s Executive Director Christopher Philip, owner of the Lattice House said, “We are very grateful to our talented designers and generous sponsors for making Rooms with a View possible.”

The event, held at the Southport Congregational Church, 524 Pequot Avenue, kicks off each year with a high spirited Thursday evening gala followed by an after party at Paced Restaurant, opens to the public at 10 a.m. Friday through the weekend, and features a luncheon, a Design Your Own Sundae, A Night at the Hadley, delicious offerings from numerous local restaurants and Chefs, and a Gingerbread House Workshop. In addition, more than 40 merchants and vendors, as well as the Carousel Thrift Shop, showcase their wares in the Shops. In celebration of the 25th Anniversary, the event partnered with the NY School of Interior Design to form the annual Rooms With a View Scholarship which will be awarded in May 2020. Visit www.roomswithaview.org for more.