Vintage Silver and Creative Flower Designs Shine at an Avid Collector's Parties



If she wanted to, Debra Goldstein could easily set the table in her Fairfield County home for dozens of people. And no guest would likely have the same knife, fork or spoon. Everything arrayed on Goldstein’s table gleams, since all of the utensils are made of vintage silver plate, salvaged from some of the most iconic hotels in New York, London and Paris, as well as venerable steamships of their day, such as the S.S. Normandie.

Although Goldstein took a shine to hotel silver years ago, it wasn’t until she met a woman named Ginger Kilbane, owner of a boutique in New York’s Bergdorf Goodman devoted solely to the items, that she began to collect it en masse—and use the pieces daily in the home she shares with her longtime companion and their three children. “I love using and eating off the utensils and other small silver items because of the ghosts they evoke—I think of all the thousands of people who held these items,” notes Goldstein. “Every piece represents a little piece of history preserved.”

So enamored is Goldstein with her ever-growing collection that she begins every Saturday morning in the home, which functions as the family’s weekend property, by polishing the silverware. While electroplated silver can stand up to the dishwasher, it dulls. “It’s my favorite activity, to stand in the kitchen in the early hours and quietly polish away,” she says, adding that even her two dogs eat from silver-plated bowls.

While the silverware stands out on its own, Goldstein recently began an informal collaboration with Karen Legan—a floral designer with her own business, Lemon Dahlia, in nearby Wilton—to add an extra element to the table. “Debra really likes to give her guests an experience,” says Legan, “and it’s great to work with such a thoughtful hostess.” Whether it’s for a pool party or a holiday party, Goldstein has come to rely increasingly on Legan for her ability to arrange flowers in the silver pitchers, creamers and other small items that are part of the collection.

Often using flowers grown in her own garden, and augmenting them with purchases from wholesalers in Norwalk and New York, Legan groups colorful dahlias and phlox, peonies and gomphrenas in vessels throughout Goldstein’s home. “Having flowers at home makes us feel alive,” explains Legan, “and the colors bring out emotions.”

Goldstein, meanwhile, is in awe of her friend’s abilities to transform tablescapes into artworks. “I love Karen’s creative vision and we really ‘get’ each other,” Goldstein stresses. “We have fun collaborating, and when we have weekend guests here at the house, I have Karen create little arrangements next to each bed.”

Since Goldstein sources her hotel silver from everywhere from eBay to local antiques shops, she does follow one self-imposed rule. “I only collect things that have a recognizable name of a hotel on it or the initial of the hotel.”

In fact, in conceiving her floral designs, Legan is careful to ensure that no bloom or stem covers each identifying mark. “When we have people to dinner, which is often,” says Goldstein, “it’s a fun game for everyone to turn over their utensil to see where it came from and to guess which hotel based on the initial.” And if anyone gets stuck, Goldstein pulls out an up-to-date glossary to supply the answer.

A version of this article appeared in the April 2019 issue of CTC&G (Connecticut Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: At Your Service.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags

Landscape Spotlight

Edit Module
Rosalia Sanni
Rosalia Sanni is an award-winning landscape designer whose approach strikes a balance between architecture, nature and people. Comprehensive services include master planning, construction, administration, furniture souring, and an open dialogue that often continues after completion. Rosalia believes that good design enhances people's lives profoundly, and should offer more than a collection of beautiful pictures. Landscapes should suit the people who inhabit them in a meaningful, fun and deeply personal way.

Rosalia Sanni Design

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Architect Spotlight

Consiglio Builders
Consiglio Builders is a luxury residential construction company located on the East End of Long Island. We have developed a unique method of residential construction in the Hamptons—we call it "The Considered Approach." It stems from our experience which demonstrates that meticulous planning and transparency throughout the process, combined with our expertise and emphasis on perfection, enable us to deliver consistently the best-constructed homes on time and within budget to our discerning clientele.


 

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Architect Spotlight

James Merrell Architects 
From our perspective in the 21st century, all styles are historical. Even Modernism is now a century old. So, we are free to interpret, and interweave the minimal with the decorative to find new expressions for our own era. Our house celebrates this new design freedom. It brings a contemporary sensibility to the architectural covenants of this otherwise traditional neighborhood. Floor to ceiling glass on the ground floor, for instance, yields modern interior spaces. While above, divided windows sit comfortably in second floor dormers. And the style that results is both unique and timeless.


Edit ModuleShow Tags

Architect Spotlight

Bates Masi + Architects
Bates Masi + Architects LLC, a full-service architectural firm with roots in New York City and the East End of Long Island for over 50 years, responds to each project with extensive research in related architectural fields, material, craft and environment for unique solutions as varied as the individuals for whom they are designed. The focus is neither the size nor the type of project but the opportunity to enrich lives and enhance the environment.

Bates+Masi Architects
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
 
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module