Kathryn Ovgas, 51, has a vivid imagination and talent for collection design. Over the past couple of years, it has capitalized on its “PopUp Speakeasy” studios, where selfie enthusiasts and social media types in search of backdrops and scenes can scroll through various vignettes featuring fun props or trending themes in warehouse-like environments.
But now Ovegas and her partner, Jose Rivera, 41, (a talented website builder) have hit upon what they consider the holy grail of spaces: a 1950s commercially designed Colonial home in Mineola, formerly a lawyer’s office, dubbed the “Content House,” a place to entertain. Family, get-togethers, photo shoots, special events, and people who generally seek out… yeah… content for social media platforms.
What is the content house?
Referring to the Netflix show, “Hype House,” Ovejas explains, is where a group of TikTok characters live together in a mansion in California for the purpose of making videos together.
The cute old kitchen in the house has only been open a month, and it’s been completely pink with added interest from the original 1960’s wallpaper. There’s a staircase freshly painted in rainbow colors and a ’90s-inspired basement decorated with vinyl records and a disco ball. For the holidays, the duo does some major hall decorating with multiple themes.
The kitchen will be organized for Christmas with a baking station featuring fake food—everything from cups of hot chocolate to cherry pies to cupcakes. “I have to tell people not to eat it, it looks so real,” she says. The living room was themed after the beloved classic movie, “A Christmas Story,” and Ovejas called it “a blast from the past.” The decor includes the iconic leg lamp from the movie along with an old telephone booth and furniture and accessories from the 1940’s. The dining room gets a serious dose of glamor with its stacks of gleaming gold and green accessories, the bedroom is “Pinkmas” with a vintage dollhouse and the overall pink ambience is whimsical. specular. Oh, yeah, and on occasion, the Grinch will appear to blow up your photos.
Melissa Gross, 35, of Mineola, who has been there several times with her daughter Briella, 10, and plans to use one of the rooms as the background for her holiday card, says Content House is better than other Popup Speakeasy locations.
“I absolutely love it. We went to their previous locations and comparing it to this house is a great idea,” she says, explaining that it feels more private than warehouse spaces and that each room has its own character. “My daughter loves setting up and going up stairs and seeing different rooms. And she pesters me to come back.”
Find the right home
Central to the couple’s mission was the search for a home. “We were always looking for one, to be honest,” Oviegas admits. “But on Long Island, it’s hard to find a commercial home that still looks like home. Inside it all looks like white boxes, with cubicles, sheetrock and hideous lighting. But this place didn’t transform. They kept the bones of the house. It still had a bathroom and a kitchen.” And a grand staircase. We looked at it through a different lens to see what it could be.”
its purpose? “The concept was always to be a pop-up and explore unique spaces full of the unexpected—a playful mix of pop culture and retro aesthetic.” The entire house gave her additional scope to “give creative content to individuals, artists, photographers, videographers, and models.” Moreover, the house provides a private environment for meetings, events and parties.
This step was just in time. “It’s a budget-friendly place to take really cool holiday photos,” Ovejas says, noting that there are already a lot of bookings by families looking to take delightful greeting card photos. “There are beautiful sets and lighting and props, and people can do it with or without our help, and we’ll even film them on their phones.”
when | where 344 Willis Ave., Mineola. Parking is available and can be booked online on the site popupspeakeasy.com/make-a-reservation; 631-743-5530.
cost Adults $35 per session, children ages 4-11 $20 and for children under 3, admission is free. Professional Photographer packages start at $298.
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