Serene colors and soft materials create a sanctuary
Showhouses are meant to inspire. The three rooms that follow prompt style as well as generosity. Not only were they created by women who are designers and passionate volunteers, but they also benefit worthy causes. Their serene colors and soft materials create a sanctuary from hectic lives of work, play, and giving.
Lake Forest Showhouse
Lake Forest, Illinois
Given the right weather, most people love spending time outdoors. But when designer Liz McEnaney took charge of a room overlooking a showhouse property's gardens, she used such soft colors and lovely furnishings that it might lure people inside even on a perfect day. "I'm a much better gardener than a decorator," Liz admits. "This was an opportunity to combine my love of design and my love of gardening."
On ivory stone walls, arched windows that would have been compromised with window treatments are left bare to grant easy views to the gardens. A seating arrangement features a clean-lined sofa topped with blue-and-white pillows, a pair of milky green armchairs edged in gold, and a brass coffee table.
Photography: Edmund Barr
Produced by Hilary Rose
Today, the treatment of the interior wall is graceful and delicate, but it didn't start that way. The wall housed the backside of the living room fireplace and was laden with soffits, turns, and asymmetrical doors. To unify its obstructive elements, a hand-painted mural of trees covers the wall. Reflected in the windows and the views to the outside, the gray-blue scene adds interest without overwhelming any other component of the room. "I wanted the focus to be outside," says Liz. "The mural adds to the feeling of being enveloped in a lush garden."
Interior designer Liz McEnaney.
Design: Liz McEnaney, E. Claire Design, 5 Steeple Chase Lane, Northfield, IL 60093; 847/441-0234
Garden room -- Sofa (#6386-80, Archetype Collection); sofa fabric (#42-328); coffee table (“Oval Coffee table’’ #7854, by Thomas Pheasant); light fixture (“Campion Umbrella Chandelier’’ #CE100, discontinued): Baker, 800/592-2537, kohlerinteriors.com.
Faux painting and hand-painted mural: Hester Decorating, 847/677-5130.
Celtic-patterned pillows on sofa (“Nottingham’’/Borage #11178/06); pillow with ribbon band (“La Scala’’/Black Pearl #1120/06): Classic Cloth, 785/434-2777, dessinfournir.com, trade only.
Ribbon trim on pillow (#V247-010): Scalamandré, 800/932-4361, scalamandre.com, trade only.
Small rectangular pillow and cushions on chair seats (“Wisteria’’/Seafoam #2013-24): Chelsea Editions, 212/758-0005,
chelseaeditions.com, trade only.
Armchairs (“Elgin Major Armchair’’): Niermann Weeks, 212/319-7979, niermannweeks.com, trade only.
End table (“Cumberland End Table’’): McLain Wiesand Custom Built Furniture, 410/539-4440, mclainwiesand.com.
Stone statues: owner’s collection.
Console table (“Hewitt Console’’ #NC5550): Design Atelier, 312/822-0440.
Glass lamp and shade (“Pleated Lamp’’/Cristallo #BB502PL, by Barbara Barry): Baker, 800/592-2537.
Terrariums: E. Claire Design, 847/441-0234.
Cream-colored wall paint (custom): Benjamin Moore, 888/236-6667.
Lake Forest Showhouse
Lake Forest, Illinois
There's light for the sake of necessity, and light for creating a pleasing aesthetic. Both came into play for interior designer Annika Christensen, born and raised in Sweden, where winter months afford only a small window of opportunity for sunlight. In the showhouse's master sitting room, she drew on her heritage to secure a palette that calms and promotes restful activity.
Unified by a large flokati rug are a Swedish antique sofa and chairs, all upholstered with blue-and-white seersucker, a modern variation on the ticking stripe that is often used in Swedish design. An organically shaped lamp and two occasional tables add a hint of a contemporary edge. The paper-shade lamp suggests movement, and a clear Lucite coffee table and a little round steel table from the 1960s enhance the room's airy ambience. Window treatments are fabricated from an ivory linen-and-silk-blend sheer that is adorned with light-reflecting glass beads.
Photography: Edmund Barr
Produced by Hilary Rose
"There is no better inspiration than the location itself, so I made a trip to Sweden to handpick pieces," says Annika. It was a painting by Swedish artist Lennart Hall that inspired the warm gray of the grasscloth that covers the walls. Titled Painting from Summer, the modern oil hangs above a linen-skirted console table and offers a canvas filled with neutral gray interrupted by pops of intense, bright colors.
Interior designer Annika Christensen.
Design: Annika Christensen, Midnight Sun Ltd., Swedish Antiques and Interior Design, 110 W. Lake St., Libertyville, IL 60048; 847/362-5240,
Master sitting room -- Sofa (antique, Swedish Gustavian-style); clock (antique, Bornhom); painting over console table; Flokati rug; sconces (1930s Swedish Gustavian-style); wire table (vintage Warren Platner): Midnight Sun Antiques, 847/362-5240.
Sofa fabric and fabric on wing chairs (“Liaigre Linen’’/Goudron Pluie #10000/01 by Great Plains); fabric on console table
(“Weathered’’/Bleached #1204/01 by Great Plains): Holly Hunt, 312/661-1900, hollyhunt.com, trade only.
Ticking stripe on wing chairs (“Seaton Stripe’’/Salt & Pepper #1161/06); trim on console table (“La Scala’’/Patina #1120/04): Classic Cloth by Dessin Fournir, 785/434-2777, dessinfournir.com, trade only.
Wing chairs (antique, Swedish bergères): Midnight Sun Ltd., 847/362-5240, midnightsunantiques.com.
Wall treatment (grass cloth #RK3835L11): Area International, 312/644-0595, trade only.
Swivel armchair (“March’’ #7625-27): Hickory Chair, 828/324-1801, hickorychair.com.
Swivel-chair fabric and pillows on sofa (“Maravilla’’/Pewter #4006/01): Summer Hill Ltd., 415/355-1300, summerhill.com, trade only.
Floor lamp (Akari Floor Lamp by Isamu Noguchi): Design Within Reach, 800/944-2233, dwr.com, and noguchi.org.
Coffee table (“Lucy Lucite Table’’): Todd Hase Furniture Inc., 312/644-9755.
Valance fabric (#NC1015-003): Nancy Corzine, 212/223-8340, trade only.
Valance trim (“Glass Beaded Fringe’’/Platinum #T-30391-106): Kravet, 888/457-2838, kravet.com, trade only.
Orchard Hill Showhouse
Old Westbury, New York
Interior designers often imagine a fictional character for whom their showhouse room is created. For this master bedroom in Old Westbury, Kate Singer used the room’s real-life former occupant -- the late New York philanthropist Peggie Phipps Boegner, whose parents built the mansion -- as inspiration for a space drenched in ethereal silver, gray, lilac, and green.
“Mrs. Phipps was a phenomenal philanthropist who opened Old Westbury Gardens, which she founded in 1959, to the public a few years back,” says Kate.
The designer used the lavender hue of the wisteria just outside the room’s windows as a springboard for other colors. A spring-green headboard, white linens bordered in lilac, and a checked silk in lilac and green pull the palette together. The embroidery on the silk bolster pillow inspired the vine motif that’s hand-painted on the gray wall.
Photography: Bruce Buck
Produced by Bonnie Maharam
In front of the fireplace surround sit a pair of slipper chairs covered in silver silk velvet. A tufted ottoman in a gray micro-fiber fabric is handy to both chairs.
A vintage settee, Louis XVI chairs, and a mirrored coffee table make up a second seating area that acts more as an art gallery, with drawings of female forms hanging on the wall.
Interior designer Kate Singer.
Design: Kate Singer, Kate Singer Home, One Huntington Bay Rd., Huntington, NY 11743; 631/261-8376, katesingerhome.com.
Master bedroom fireplace area -- Slipper chairs; ottoman: Kate Singer Home, 631/261-8376.
Slipper-chair fabric (#13858-43 in Lavender): Duralee Fabrics Ltd., 800/275-3872, trade only.
Frogs on slipper chairs: M&J Trimming, 212/391-6200. Ottoman fabric (“Fishnet’’/Platinum #25379-106, by Barbara Barry); bolster pillows (“Silk Grid’’/Opal #27596-110, by Barbara Barry): Kravet, 888/457-2838, kravet.com, trade only.
Rug (“Marrakesh’’/Pistachio): International Carpet Showcase, 516/621-7800.
Paint (base color, “Revere Pewter’’ #HC-172): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667, benjaminmoore.com.
Decorative wall finish (by Christian Pember): Red Trumpet Designs, 631/261-8090.
Reading light; art: designer’s collection.
Fire screen (custom): Kate Singer Home, 631/261-8376, katesingerhome.com.
Drapery (#26672-1611): Kravet, 888/457-2838, kravet.com, trade only.
Drapery hardware: Antique Drapery Rod Co., 214/653-1733.
Master bedroom sitting area -- Wood-frame settee (vintage); fauteuils (Louis XVI, silver wood frame): Kate Singer Home, 631/261-8376.
Settee fabric: discontinued.
Fauteuil fabric, front (“My Thai’’/Amethyst #28709-110, by Barbara Barry); fauteuil fabric, back (“Silk Grid’’/Opal #27596-110, by Barbara Barry); plaid pillows (“Newport Check’’/Lilac #22276-310); pillows on fauteuils (“Flutter’’/Smoke Quartz #28639-10, by Barbara Barry): Kravet, 888/457-2838, kravet.com, trade only.
Coffee table (#3030-667): Maitland-Smith, 336/812-2400, maitland-smith.com. Available through Classic Galleries, 631/427-1045.
Floor lamp (vintage): designer’s collection.
Round tray table beside settee (vintage); “Canterbury’’ book holder (vintage, cane:) Kate Singer Home, 631/261-8376.
Art: designer’s collection.
Sconces: original to house.
Bed (custom): Kate Singer Home, 631/261-8376.
Headboard and bed-skirt fabric (#19646-23); plaid pillows
(“Newport Check’’/Lilac #22276-310); bolster pillow (“Flutter’’/Smoke Quartz #28639-10, by Barbara Barry): Kravet, 888/457-2838, trade only.
Bedding (“Delano’’/White Pique with Orchid Duvet and Shams #M13): Matouk, matouk.com. Available through Master Suites, 631/367-1601.
Bedside table (vintage, Chinese Chippendale); table lamp; round tray; marble-top painted chest of drawers (vintage); bust (vintage): Kate Singer Home, 631/261-8376, katesingerhome.com.
Mirror over chest of drawers: Carvers’ Guild, 978/448-3063.