Plenty of women dream of having a royal title, a reality TV show, a Manhattan apartment or a place in the Hamptons, but Countess LuAnn de Lesseps, star of "The Real Housewives of New York City," has all of the above.
A mother of two, de Lesseps has parlayed her hours in the TV trenches into a book, “Class with the Countess: How to Live with Elegance and Flair,” which mixes biography with etiquette tips. She's also released two singles and a line of dresses called—what else?—The Countess Collection.
Here, she dishes on summer entertaining, why she bought her Sag Harbor home, and her favorite spots to buy home furnishings.
You have an apartment on the Upper West Side.
I love the Upper West Side. I’ve been there now four years. It's different to my house in the Hamptons. It’s kind of city chic. It’s full of lots of things I have collected from over the years. I like a lot of accent pillows, and I got my lamps at TJ Maxx.
What is your fantasy purchase for your home?
A Warhol probably. Something fun.
Where are you spending the summer this year?
In the Hamptons. I moved [from a house in Bridgehampton] into a new house in Sag Harbor. It’s an old Federal home with four bedrooms. A friend told me the house was on the market, I saw it and knew it was meant to be. It was the first house I saw. I love the beach, and I loved the house because I have always wanted to live on the water and it has an expansive water view. Also Sag Harbor Village is walking distance, which is great.
What is the aesthetic of your Sag Harbor house?
The [Bridgehampton] home is rented out for the season so I couldn’t take anything with me, and I had to buy everything new. It was a fresh start. The style is "contemporary country" and for that I have shopped Restoration Hardware, a bit of Pottery Barn, and West Elm.
You're selling your 6,500-square-foot, six-bedroom Bridgehampton home. Why?
My children are going to college, and I felt it was time to downsize. When I am alone there, I feel it’s too big. It is a beautiful home, with farm fields, and you feel like you could be in Idaho.
Best advice for entertaining in the summer?
Prepare for your guests, so when they arrive they can relax. Have a glass of wine waiting for them, organize your music, have your food prepared. And if the weather co-operates, entertain outside.
Favorite restaurant in the Hamptons?
I love going to the American Hotel in Sag Harbor. Sunset Beach on Shelter Island is superb. It feels like you could be in St. Tropez. Once the rose gets flowing it’s really fun.
Best places to shop in the Hamptons?
Calypso, Catherine Malandrino and Intermix for clothes. The Tanger Mall is great and also I love Kmart out here. It has everything. My son ran in there and bought a fishing pole and a kayak.
What's next for your fashion line?
I wanted to create a collection for women that takes the stress out of dressing. It’s "chic made easy," affordable, and based on things I love to wear. Next for 2015 I am working on home décor and accessories, most likely starting with candles and plates.
Are there more books coming?
I think. [Laughs.] I will do a book on etiquette for reality show people!
Best thing about doing reality TV?
The best is having a living photo album of my life over the last six seasons. I watched the first episode recently and to see my kids so small, to see my life then. It’s been amazing. And who can top singing with Natalie Cole?
And the downside of all that scrutiny?
You have to have pretty thick skin. People can be judgmental hiding behind their computers. I had no idea how big the show would become, but I went in as an adventurer, and I think it’s paid off.
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