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Showhouse Rooms with Quiet Palettes

Color schemes speak volumes when designers keep them quiet

Written by Krissa Rossbund
  • Werner Straube

    Gail Plechaty understands the unspoken rule of design when working within grand architecture: Enhance, don’t compete. In the morning room of a stately 1916 home by renowned Chicago architect David Adler, her primary goal was to pay homage to the classic qualities of the space.

    “My approach was to celebrate this room’s volume and view,” Plechaty says. “I did that by concocting a visual sorbet. It’s a palate cleanser between the other, more dramatic rooms in the house.”

    Chest (antique); sconce (antique); accessories; chair: Real Simple Design, gailplechaty.com.
    Fabric (“Academy”/Ivory #36288-001); trim (“Tulip Braid Fringe” #FX1350-001): Scalamandré, scalamandre.com

  • Werner Straube

    Lake Forest Showhouse
    Lake Forest, Illinois

    Color—or, more accurately, a shared absence of color among the furnishings and finishes—produces a range of effects as natural light pours through the room at different times of the day. Pale gray and champagne float throughout the space to provide a harmonious suggestion of relaxation, with no one element demanding, “Look at me.”

    Luxury abounds in the space swathed in opulent fabrics. A weathered Fortuny pattern skirts a round table. Champagne-colored silk hangs at windows. Against the arched window, silk also shimmers on a sofa, this time in a platinum-colored metallic.

    Produced by Hilary Rose and Mara Boo
    Photography: Werner Straube

    Paint (custom): Farrow & Ball, farrow-ball.com.
    Faux finishing: Paul Rufus, through Real Simple Design, gailplechaty.com.
    Sisal rug: Carpet Colors, 847/327-9500.
    Oushak rug (antique): Minasian Rug Co., minasian.com.
    Sofa (antique); Lucite end tables; zinc Dauphin lamps (antique); chair to right of sofa (antique); gold console table; accessories: Real Simple Design, gailplechaty.com.
    Drapery (“Gissey Plain”/Beige #36356-001); drapery trim (“Tulip Braid Fringe”/Cream, Taupe, Beige #FX1350-001); sofa fabric (“Stoddard”/Platinum #36205M-023); striped fabric on chair to right of sofa (“Federal Stripe”/White, Cream #20276M-002); fabric on chair pillow (“Academy”/Ivory #36299-001): Scalamandré, scalamandre.com.
    Table-skirt fabric (“Bosphorus”): Sabina Fay Braxton, through Rodolph Inc., rodolph.com.
    Rock crystal chandelier (“Crillon”): Niermann Weeks, niermannweeks.com.
    Sconce (antique): Ivy & Co., ivyandco.net.

  • Werner Straube

    Lake Forest Showhouse
    Lake Forest, Illinois

    But Plechaty never intended for everything to be smooth and shiny.  She employed rustic touches such as architectural fragments used as lamp bases and an eye-catching bookcase with doors faced in chicken wire.

    Cabinet; antique prints; accessories; bench: Real Simple Design, gailplechaty.com.
    Fabric (“Academy”/Gray #36288-003): Scalamandré, scalamandre.com.

  • Werner Straube

    Lake Forest Showhouse
    Lake Forest, Illinois

    An antique sconce glistens above an antique demilune table. 

    Table; sconces (antique); accessories: Real Simple Design, gailplechaty.com.

  • Werner Straube

    Lake Forest Showhouse
    Lake Forest, Illinois

    Morning room designer Gail Plechaty.

    Interior designer: Gail Plechaty, Real Simple Design, 17405 E. Milburn Rd., Old Mill Creek, IL 60083; 847/507-4000, 312/754-0968, gailplechaty.com.  

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Atlanta Symphony Decorators’ Showhouse
    Atlanta

    Janie Hirsch routinely fashions rooms that are visually delightful, but in the master bathroom of the showhouse for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, she surprised with a scheme that was artful, too. She added an array of artwork to the space that generates an inspiring vibe for primping at the vanity or relaxing in the tub.

    A mirrored cabinet adds sparkle without jarring color. 

    Produced by Lisa Mowry
    Photography: Emily Jenkins Followill

    Mirrored chest (“Marche Biron Mirrored Side Table” #SO 8503): Schumacher, fschumacher.com.
    Art behind chest (Let it Rain, by Nancy Blum); shoes on chest (Ice Heels, by Susan Freda): DK Gallery, dkgallery.us.
    Obelisk (marble): Parc Monceau, parcmonceauatl.com

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Atlanta Symphony Decorators’ Showhouse
    Atlanta

    “This grand room has beautiful windows and hard details, from the mosaic tiled ‘rug’ to the fluted cabinetry,” Hirsch explains. “It warranted an extra bit of luxury. The art became an unexpected focus.”

     

    Vanity cabinet (custom): Karpaty Cabinets Inc., karpatycabinets.com.
    Wall and cabinetry paint (“Pavilion Gray” #242): Farrow & Ball, farrow-ball.com.
    Trim paint (“Agreeable Gray” #SW 7029): Sherwin-Williams, sherwin-williams.com.
    Cabinetry hardware (11/4-inch Glass Egg Knob with Polished Nickel base): Matthew Quinn Collection, matthewquinncollection.com.
    Countertop (Calacatta Gray): Walker Zanger, walkerzanger.com.
    Sink (“Glamour” #P72029-00 by Barbara Barry): Kallista, kallista.com.
    Faucets (“Art Deco with Lever” #A55, Traditional Collection): THG Paris, thgusa.com.
    Pair of mirrors (“Wendy”); sconce (“Tammi” 5-tier sconce with clear crystals): Bradley, bradley-usa.com.
    Bench (“Sofia Curule Bench” #SAH8523); bench fabric (“Flanders Linen Basketweave”/Truffle #65192): Schumacher, fschumacher.com.
    Shell vase on cabinetry (“Nautilus” silver-plated cachepot); silver tray (alligator-embossed silver plate tray, 20th-century): Parc Monceau, parcmonceauatl.com.

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Atlanta Symphony Decorators’ Showhouse
    Atlanta

    The contemporary abstracts of fashionable women pop against walls painted warm gray. For contrast to the gender-neutral gray, Hirsch introduced blush pink to the room through a graphic pattern on the linen fabric used for window treatments. To give the simple window panels a bit of pizzazz, Hirsch added a band and trim to the edge.

    “Clients make windows a top priority now, so fussy window treatments distract too much,” Hirsch says. “Simple window panels should receive extra detailing to give them their own personality.”

    The designer’s intention was for the window panel fabric and artwork to attract the most attention. She appointed furniture that is stylish but in the color family of the walls and cabinetry so it melts into the background. An X-base bench with a distressed finish is topped in gray linen. 

    Wall paint (“Pavilion Gray” #242): Farrow & Ball, farrow-ball.com.
    Trim paint (“Agreeable Gray” #SW 7029): Sherwin-Williams, sherwin-williams.com.
    Drapery (“Garden of Persia”/Blush Conch #175031); band trim on drapery (“Blythe Weave”/Blush #64361); tape trim on drapery (“Aranna Silk Braid”/Blanc #B141-1): Schumacher, fschumacher.com.
    Drapery hardware (7/8-inch iron with slate finish): Drape 98 Express, drape98.com.
    Floor tile (perimeter, Lagos Azul; center inset, custom basketweave of Lagos Azul and Calacatta Gray): Walker Zanger, walkerzanger.com.
    Bathtub (“Elise 4” #193, Boutique Collection): MTI Baths, mtibaths.com.
    Tub fixtures (“Art Deco with Lever,” Traditional Collection):  THG USA, thgusa.com.
    Throw (“Bella” wool throw with Oatmeal Linen border): V Rugs & Home, vrugsandhome.com.
    Art behind tub (She, by Holly Irwin): DK Gallery, dkgallery.us.
    Table beside tub (“Willow Ceramic Side Table” #FR400): Hwang Bishop, hwangbishop.net. Through Schumacher, fschumacher.com.

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Atlanta Symphony Decorators’ Showhouse
    Atlanta

    Bathroom designer Janie Hirsch

    Interior designer: Janie Hirsch, J. Hirsch Interior Design, 10555 Cauley Creek Drive, Johns Creek, GA 30097; 404/395-3711, jhirschinteriors.com.  

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Atlanta Symphony Decorators’ Showhouse
    Atlanta

    Glamorous gowns worn by Hollywood elites on Oscar night inspired Melanie Turner’s master bedroom in this showhouse benefiting the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Simple in coloration, movie stars’ couture garments read extra-refined on the red carpet, leading Turner to seek a knockout fabric that bore the same quiet impact.

    “Bedrooms are multitask areas where we read, sleep, and sometimes work,” Turner explains. “So when it’s time to relax and wind down, the environment needs to be serene with a sense of calm.”

    With a scheme that was soft yet somewhat masculine in color, Turner introduced several elements of luxury to make it known that her design suited both genders. Dangling above an iron bed with a linen upholstered headboard is a new chandelier she constructed from parts of three lighting fixtures and then dressed with rock crystals. Gold shimmers on a desk chair at the French bedside table. 

    Produced by Lisa Mowry
    Photography: Emily Jenkins Followill

    Wall paint (“Anew Gray” #SW-7030, with handpainted mural on top); ceiling paint (“Anew Gray” at 50 percent); trim paint (“Anew Gray”): Sherwin-Williams, sherwin-williams.com.
    Area rug (“Sparano Groove”/Papyrus): Patterson, Flynn & Martin, pattersonflynnmartin.com.
    Drapery (“Chinois Palais”/Blush Conch #175041, by Mary McDonald): Schumacher, fschumacher.com.
    Bed (“Iron Venetian Canopy Bed with Upholstered Headboard”); headboard fabric: Tara Shaw Maison, tarashaw.com.
    Bed cover (“Gainsborough Velvet”/Cement #64532); lumbar pillow on bed (“Prestwick Wool Satin”/Oatmeal #51524): Schumacher, fschumacher.com.
    Bench (“Muffy”); fabric (“Icelandic sheepskin); bedside chest (“Melissa”): Bradley, bradley-usa.com.
    Table lamps (“Large Chunky Urn” CHA8174)): Circa Lighting, circalighting.com.
    Cranes at window: Foxglove Antiques & Galleries, foxgloveantiques.com.

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Atlanta Symphony Decorators’ Showhouse
    Atlanta

    Needing long panels to dress the soaring windows, Turner turned to a patterned fabric that would instantly drive personality into the tranquil space. Playing off the taupe-gray paint on the walls, she found a cotton print that coordinated and featured a pale pink color as its ground.

    Sumptuous velvet covers a tufted chaise and gracefully drapes the bed in an old-school bedspread

    Chaise (custom, “Audrey”): Bradley, bradley-usa.com.
    Fabric on chaise (“Prestwick Wool Satin”/Oatmeal #51524); pillow (“Bargello”/Dove #67170, by Mary McDonald); table (“Moderne Round Table” #SPC8521): Schumacher, fschumacher.com.
    Floor lamp (“Linea” #PG204): Baker, bakerfurniture.com.  

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Atlanta Symphony Decorators’ Showhouse
    Atlanta

    But the existing walls weren’t left as a featureless solid color—an artist rendered slender tree silhouettes on them in chalk, then added a protective glaze over the work to keep it stable.

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Atlanta Symphony Decorators’ Showhouse
    Atlanta

    Bedroom designer Melanie Turner

    Interior designer: Melanie Turner, Melanie Turner Interiors,  130 W. Wieuca Rd., Suite 209, Atlanta, GA 30342; 404/250-0134, melanieturnerinteriors.com.