Show House Stars

October 10, 2016

Join us on a tour of some of our favorite rooms from two recent show houses that featured the talents of New England designers.

Text by Paula M. Bodah

Junior League of Boston 45th Anniversary Show House
The Nathaniel Allen House in West Newton, Massachusetts, has a long and distinguished history. The 1840s Greek Revival house was purchased in 1854 by Nathaniel Topliff Allen, a pioneer in education who established a coed, racially integrated school in the stately mansion. Today,the Newton Cultural Alliance owns the house, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. With the help of the Junior League of Boston, which enlisted some of the area’s best designers to refurbish twenty of the mansion’s rooms, the house moves on to its new life as a center for art and culture.

Receiving Room and Sitting Room
Boston designer Gerald Pomeroy created a fresh vibe for the classical architecture in the receiving room and sitting room. White woodwork and an enchanting de Gournay chinoiserie wallpaper bring a springlike feel to the receiving room, while the sitting room takes on a luxurious tone, thanks to Pomeroy’s choice of a glossy wall treatment in a luscious sky blue. Classical and modern blend beautifully: witness the happy juxtaposition of a contemporary painting above a traditional console, and of the elegant Greek-key floor stencil and streamlined sofas.

gerald-pomeroy-Junior League of Boston Showhouse

Photographs by Eric Roth


The Grand Dining Room
The dining room is, indeed, grand as conceived by Susan Schaub and Scott Bell of Theo & Isabella Design Group. Throughout the long room, classic and modern perform a pleasing pas de deux. Handsome mahogany woodwork is softened by sky-blue silk wallcovering. Chinese Chippendale-style chairs are playful partners to the dark dining table and console. Embroidered fretwork edging adds a fresh touch to the drapes. An elegant beaded chandelier shares the ceiling with a contemporary drum-shade light fixture. And contemporary art mixes with Chinese porcelain to complete the performance.


The Bar
Cecilia Walker joined forces with Tracy Foley of Water and Main to turn this sun-washed former butler’s pass-through into an inviting bar with a glamorous, Hollywood Regency feel. The floor-to-ceiling windows are framed with woodwork painted a rich, glossy, teal-green hue. The bold, graphic patterns in wallpapers and fabrics add an energetic edginess to the classic feel of the space. And the vintage settee gets a modern lift from the sassy brass zipper that runs down its middle.


Photographs by Sarah Winchester



The Nursery
With its palette of pink and lavender on a creamy background, the nursery Mally Skok designed has all the sugar and spice a little girl wants. The playful mix of patterns in the fabrics and wallpapers—all from Skok’s own line of hand-screened products—gives the space the sense of whimsy, but any design-savvy mom or dad can appreciate the sophisticated tone Skok has achieved in a room designed to suit a girl as she grows from baby to teen.


Photographs by Sarah Winchester


Coastal Haven Designer Show House
The Museum of Old Newbury set about turning Coastal Haven, a classic, colonial-style farmhouse in Newburyport, Massachusetts, into a showcase for New England’s interior design talent. The house, built in the early 1800s, was the homestead for a working farm overlooking the Merrimac River. In modern times, the house came perilously close to being demolished. Luckily, its current owners opted to save it, enlisting Newburyport architect Andrew Sidford to restore the building and create an addition that honors the home’s history in a beautiful blend of old and new. A dozen designers unleashed their imaginations on the house and barn, fashioning one beautiful space after another, each an homage to both the old house and the stunning land on which it sits.

Living Room
Kay Bailey McKallagat’s understated living room is a study in quiet sophistication. The soft, neutral palette keeps the focus on the pretty views of the backyard gardens and the river, while the casual furnishings set the tone for comfortable gatherings of friends and family. Paintings by local artists add a spark of color, and speak both to the home’s past as a farmhouse and to its riverside location.


All Coastal Haven Designer Show House photographs by Michael J. Lee


Dining Room
It’s easy to imagine a lively dinner party in progress in the genial dining room designed by Michaele Boehm and Kacey Graham of Boehm Graham Interior Design. The space gets a hint of formality from its stylish gray-and-white color scheme, a traditional, dark, pedestal dining table, and a gracious, curvy-legged sideboard. It steers clear of even a whiff of stuffiness, though, thanks to such contemporary touches as the bold zippers on the backs of the dining chairs and the graphic Jill Rosenwald rug.



The Barn
Every respectable farm has a barn, and Coastal Haven is no exception. This barn, however, as envisioned by Kerry Vaughan of Red Bird Trading, is exceptional. Vaughan created a welcoming gathering space that celebrates the structure’s rural charm. For dining, a generous table set with rushed chairs is illuminated with a rustic chandelier that hangs from manila rope. In the sitting area, an old pitchfork recalls the barn’s farm history. Newburyport’s seafaring past gets a nod, too, in the vintage ship etching that hangs on the wall.



West Guest Bedroom
Lucky indeed would be the visitor who gets to stay in this cozy retreat designed by Holly Gagne and Tina Sanchez. The natural world was the designers’ inspiration for this room that blends both coastal and country sensibilities. Deep blue walls, a watercolor diptych, and sandy-hued fabrics evoke thoughts of the ocean, while wood accents and succulents add an organic, woodsy feel. The design duo also introduced a global sensibility with a vintage over-dyed Turkish rug and pillows of handwoven African cloth.



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