"Our parties don’t require fancy catering—just corn dogs, cotton candy, and hot pretzels. We definitely have embraced the circus theme," says Rebecca.
That includes decorating. Circus art enlivens walls, and elephant-themed accessories have migrated into most of the rooms. "I tried to persuade them to confine circus memorabilia to the breakfast room," laughs Cincinnati interior designer Betty Murdock. Short of that, "My goal was to encourage them to be playful but not too cute." By all accounts, she succeeded, thanks in large part to fine fabrics in bright, clear colors. These textiles in splashy solids and contemporary patterns walk the high-wire of fun without a single misstep into kitsch. "Believe it or not, you can’t find this palette of clear raspberries, lime greens, aquas, and hot pinks in anything but high-end fabrics," says the designer. "Most of my clients are very traditional and prefer neutral palettes. This house forced me to bust out of my skin, and I loved it. I especially loved their passion for the history of the circus. No previous owners had pursued that."
The house’s original architecture provides a sober backdrop for the parade of color. In the living room, the white marble fireplace and elaborate crown moldings inject gravitas to the grouping of four hot-pink Designer Guild velvet chairs that radiate around a pouf upholstered in a Manuel Canovas pink-lime-yellow stripe. Equally exclamatory, Osborne & Little woven florals cover pillows. Then back to sobriety. "Unlined Ralph Lauren woven linen curtains trimmed with crystal work like sheers to keep the backgrounds soft and clean for all this playful vibrancy," Murdock notes.