Blairsden mansion NJ
Blairsden Reflecting Pool

Saturday is the last day to visit the beautiful Mansion in May decorator show house at Blairsden in Gladstone, New Jersey. It’s a beautiful day trip and a 2 hour train ride from Penn Station, NYC. On Saturday, there are shuttles from the train station to the house.

I’m sorry I didn’t mention this sooner.

Mansion in May is one of the New York/New Jersey area’s most renowned decorator show houses, with about 25,000 visitors annually. Established in 1974, the fundraiser has generated over $8 million for various causes at Morristown Medical Center. This year’s fund will go to an expanded pediatric intensive care unit and autism center.

Entrance to Blairsden
The line never got much longer than this

Blairsden, the home of C. Ledyard Blair, financier and Commodore of the NY Yacht Club, is the setting of the 2014 Mansion in May. Designed by Carrere and Hastings, and constructed from 1897 to 1903, the home is a showpiece of Beaux Arts architecture. Built on a hill that Blair had flattened, the home offers spectacular views of the surrounding hillsides.

Houndstooth's Bedroom suite for the Blair daughters
Houndstooth’s Bedroom suite for the Blair daughters

More than 50 designers participated in the renovation of the rooms and gardens for this year’s Mansion in May. My friend and childhood babysitter, Anthony Feo of Houndstooth Interior Design was one of them, so I convinced my mother to make the trip on Mother’s Day.

Colorful closet with Lily Pulitzer kid's clothes

Houndstooth designed a very sophisticated child’s room with a very fun hot-pink closet bursting with colorful Lily Pulitzer wear.

Blairsden decorator show house room
A Room of Her Own by Timothy & Associates

After passing through the Tromp L’oeil entryway designed by Andrew Tedesco studios (with an explanation by Andrew), we moved into one of my favorite rooms of the day – Timothy and Associates “A Room of Her Own.” My photos of this beautiful room don’t do it justice – especially my attempts to shoot the hand embroidered drapes with sunlight and crowds.

Blairsden chandelier
One of many spectacular chandeliers

Most of the rooms were gorgeous and full of remarkable pieces. The chandeliers and lighting fixtures were particularly noteworthy. My mother, a veteran room sitter at NYC’s Kips Bay house, thought much of the design was a little safe, but these decorators know their market well and probably stick to what is likely to sell in the area.

Mansion in May decorator garden

One of the volunteers mentioned the new owner, who paid $5 million for the house, preferred more understated design in grey tones. As we wandered around the house, we overheard much speculation from guests about what the owner would purchase from the decorators and what would be removed. The consensus was the intricately tiled bathrooms were staying. The under-designed grey kitchen was possibly designed to encourage the owner to keep it,  but it seemed a little neglected compared with the rest of the house.

APLD member designed lawn garden
Blairsden Brocade – intricate plantings amid grass

We opted for lunch in the cafe instead of walking the gardens, but did pass by the gorgeous Blairsden Brocade, flower carpet designed by members of APLD – the Association of Professional Landscape Designers – Susan Cohan, Jane Derickson-Friar and Helen Grundmann.

You can purchase tickets ($50) in advance online here or at the door.

Details about planning your trip by car or train can be found here.

There is no onsite parking. Follow the clear directions to the parking lot where shuttles will bring you to the house. Don’t even think about walking from Gladstone – it’s a long walk on a private 1 lane road.

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Last Call for the Mansion in May

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