An individual of many talents — from serving the greater community as a long-time volunteer to her professional work as a purveyor of a one-of-a-kind British tea catering service, Carol Timpanelli is at the helm of this year’s Designer House Tour. Timpanelli, a Trumbull resident, has spent many years dedicated to the arts and many philanthropic endeavors.
While Timpanelli’s husband Paul was First Selectman of the Town of Trumbull from 1980 to 1987, Timpanelli founded the Trumbull Arts Commission, Trumbull’s Arts Festival and Literary Competition and the Christmas Candle Light and Scarf Night. A lover of arts, she also designed an art gallery inside the Town Hall Annex, and commissioned a mural to illustrate the history of the Town.
Committed to the greater good of Fairfield County, she has also served on the boards of the Greater Bridgeport Symphony; Downtown Bridgeport Cabaret Theatre; the Polka Dot Theatre; the Fairfield Christmas Tree Festival; and the Trumbull Arts Commission.
Timpanelli, a creative force in the world of entertaining, founded the Royal Tea Company, an English Tea catering service in 1989. The Royal Tea Company has catered for such luminaries like Martha Stewart, Embassies to the United Nations, The American Ballet Theatre, The Society of Dutch Danes and many others. Timpanelli’s Royal Tea Company has been featured on the BCC Breakfast, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune and The Greenwich Times and many other renowned publications.
Recently, Near & Far Aid volunteer Alexis Harrison interviewed Timpanelli to learn more about her, and hear what she’s looking forward to during this year’s tour
Question: How long have you been involved with Near & Far Aid?
Answer: About six years ago, my friend Joan Panagos, who is Vice President of Near & Far Aid, asked me to be a hostess for a house where she was the captain, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I found it was such a pleasure to volunteer a few hours in a stunning home with other wonderful women. I left feeling that I contributed to an important cause even in a small way.
The year after that I was asked to be a house captain, and then the following year, I was asked to serve as the house captain coordinator, and I did that for three years. Last year, I took a lesser role because of several obligations I had, and I was just a greeter at one of the houses, which is really my favorite thing to do because you get to talk to everyone and hear which houses they liked on the tour. Then I thought maybe, I’ll be a greeter again this year but very unexpectedly, I was asked to be the House Tour Chair which is a tremendous honor. Near & Far Aid is composed of talented, very smart and generous people who are dedicated to helping our community and I’m happy to play a role in one their major fundraising events.
What’s different about this year’s House Tour?
Answer: In a few words – we have six homes this year! We traditionally have always had five but this year we are lucky enough to have six. I am not going to give it all away here as you have to come and see them for yourself but one dates back to 1791. It has wide chestnut floor boards and beamed ceilings, and you will be in awe once you step inside. It’s a gem. Also, this year’s tour mirrors a national trend – the popularity of smaller homes. We are featuring two smaller homes and one condominium. One of the smaller houses has glorious panoramic views of the beach in Westport, and the other is a charming cottage. Of course, we also have two magnificent large homes which are inspiring and grand.
Question: What are you looking forward to the most during the tour?
Answer: To be honest, I am looking forward to thoroughly enjoying every part of the day! We’re going to be kicking off the morning with the Designer Breakfast at the Patterson Club in Fairfield where renowned designer Alexa Hampton will be the guest speaker, and given her stature, she promises to dazzle the audience. The House Tour has evolved into a very special event, and an annual destination for patrons. It is a day spent getting an inside look of beautifully designed and unique homes while helping organizations and charities that Near & Far Aid supports. It’s truly win-win!
Question: The House Tour takes many months of planning, scores of dedicated volunteers and generous sponsors. What surprises you the most?
Answer: I am amazed at how the house tour truly engages our whole community year after year. It requires hundreds of hours over many months to create this special day. There are about ten different sub-committees from flower arrangement to publicity and house selection, and so many more, and I am in awe of the dedication and professionalism each person brings to Near & Far Aid. It takes 200 volunteers just to host the houses! We’re lucky to have such a fine group of people from various towns in Fairfield County who are willing to serve, and likewise, we have generous sponsors who also make this day a reality.
Question: Last year, the Toast the Tour cocktail party was at the Fairfield County Hunt Club for the first time. Where will it be held this year?
Answer: Last year’s Toast the Tour party was immensely popular and a lot of fun at the Hunt Club that we decided to hold it again at the club. The sprawling lawn is spectacular and serves as the perfect backdrop for the luxury car show that will also takes place during the party. The car show was a hit and it’s quite exciting to see a variety of exotic cars. The food is absolutely savory and divine, the libations are abundant and it’s a perfect way to celebrate the House Tour.