These Vignettes from Rooms with a View 2023 are a Master Class in Interior Design

January 8, 2024

Text by Clinton Smith     Photography by Alan Barry

Editor at Large Clinton Smith peers into Rooms with a View, a charitable design benefit hosted by the Southport Congregational Church in Southport, Connecticut,  where designers are each given a six-by-eight-foot space to decorate for a long weekend. Photography by Alan Barry


Scott Meacham Woods Room with a View 2023

Scot Meacham Wood is known for his Scottish-inflected interiors as well as his eponymous line of fabrics, which includes many iconic tartan patterns. For his vignette, he leaned into the look with elegance and élan; however, it wasn’t the fabrics that served as his initial inspiration but rather the art he used as a focal point.

“It’s an old theater backdrop that I’ve had forever,” he says of the equestrian-themed piece. That wasn’t the only unexpected object he used to adorn his plaid-enveloped walls. The cover of one of Wood’s old tartan reference books got destroyed years ago, so he ended up framing many of the designs and incorporating several of them here.

One of his other secret weapons in creating a compelling room was to keep it from getting overcomplicated for its petite footprint. “You want to have a space that’s really easy to understand and easy to digest.”

Painterly Approach

Ross Alexander Rooms with a View 2023

Art can often serve as inspiration for a design concept, and that’s exactly what happened with Ross Alexander’s space, although the designer’s thoughtful interpretation and execution took it to another level. The walls, in particular, had his hands all over them—literally.

“I painted the panels myself,” says Alexander, who created them on canvas in his studio and then had them applied to the walls on-site. “I love lily pads. I grew up near a botanical garden, so I spent a lot of time running through gardens with lily pad ponds and things like that. They’re kind of forever sealed in my memory.”

He adds, “I also love the work of Pierre Bernard and Matisse.”(The latter artist created about 250 water lily paintings during his lifetime.) “So the palette was really based on a Bernard painting, with the duck-egg-blue wall color and the yellow carpet and coral chair.” Alexander, who has his own rug collection, based this carpet on one seen in a Matisse painting, but he rescaled it and modifiedthe border. He also chose an unexpected saffron color for the piece.
“It just illuminates the floor,” he says.

Flower Power

Lindsey Coral Harper Rooms with a View 2023

For Lindsey Coral Harper, a bit of serendipity and a chance encounter played a role in the creation of her sunny and cheerful room.

“I had this Hazelton House print sitting on my desk for almost a year,” says Harper of the enchanting floral fabric. But without an appropriate client project to use it on, she had a light-bulb moment that it would be perfect for her Rooms with a View display. The print became a statement-making accent pillow, front and center, and the rest of the room’s palette evolved from its blue and citrus-inspired colors. What’s more, the trellage-like structure on the focal wall was the very last thing selected; in some ways, it appears as if the entire room could have been designed with the piece as the starting point.

“I found this lattice in that blue color in its original paint. And I was like, ‘Why is that speaking to me?’ because I don’t have a garden.” After ruminating about it for the rest of the day, Harper had another light-bulb moment. “And then it hit me. I was like, ‘Wait, I’m going to use this in my vignette!’ And because it frames the space, it’s kind of perfect.”

Home Again

Amanda Reynal Interiors Rooms with a View 2023

This recent Rooms with a View was a homecoming of sorts for Amanda Reynal, who lived in the community while growing up and whose parents still call the enclave home.

“I had some very formative years in Fairfield, Connecticut, so I thought, ‘Why not use that as my inspiration for the vignette?’ ” says the designer, who has offices in Des Moines and Palm Beach, Florida.

The Lee Jofa fabric adorning two stylish chairs, in particular, is full of interpretation for her. “I love a tree of life,” she says of the pattern. “It’s so iconic but also meaningful.” Reynal hoped the pattern would represent Southport’s everlasting growth and its new blossoming as well as her own deep roots in the community. After all, Reynal’s mother designed a space for the event almost two decades ago, so it feels like a full-circle moment.

“There are so many things about Southport that have never changed,” Reynal says. “Then obviously there’s a young and vibrant life going on there as well.” And just as with the fabric, the rest of the room—with its myriad mix of styles, colors, and textures—represents the best of past, present, and future, as well.

Flight of Fancy

Robin O'Neil Room with a View 2023

For Robin O’Neil, it was a Christian Lacroix wallcovering featuring a feather design that inspired the concept for her petite space. Says O’Neil, “I ordered a sample of it, and when it came and I unrolled it, I thought, ‘This is it!’ ”

Such a bold design could have easily overwhelmed the room, but O’Neil balanced the riotous pattern with more subdued—yet textural—upholstery and a plush rug underneath. The ceiling’s high-gloss green color was pulled from the wallcovering and adds verve and vigor to the space. But to bring a sense of order to the room, O’Neil once again turned to color. “I always like to have splashes of black to anchor things,” she says, referring to pieces like the mirror and display cases within the bookshelves.



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