n an aesthetic level, visiting a good decorator show house is akin to enjoying
the tasting menu at a gourmet restaurant. So many options and sensory
surprises, so much inspiration.
This summer’s 21st annual Show House to benefit the Museums
of Old York, Maine, was just such a sumptuous feast. In an elegant 1904 “cottage,” rooms ripe with design ideas flowed seamlessly
together, subtly demonstrating what’s right for living with comfort
and style today.
It was the savvy approach to selecting the winning designers
from the many who submitted room proposals that contributed to
the unifying threads that ran through the house. In a break from the
past, the show house committee used blind scoring, with each plan
rated on a scale of 1 to 10. Based on those scores, the applications
were then further judged for their cohesiveness.
“The caliber and expertise of design professionals — some new
talent, some returning — was a plus,” says Amanda Turpin, director
of development for the Museums of Old York.
One new participant, interior and architectural designer Phillip
Jude Miller of America Dural Inc., in Cambridge, Massachusetts,
was given three contiguous spaces: the gracious 28-by-12-foot foyer,
a sequestered, intimate study, and the first-floor powder room.
In the foyer, Miller painted the walls a deep gray with hints of
blue-green, a neutral tone that would “marry well” with the adjacent living and dining rooms. Area rugs defined the foyer’s functions:
a runner in the small entry hall and a lively Oriental for the seating area, where an antique settee was unexpectedly paired with a
mid-century-modern armchair. To complement the richness of
the original fir floor, stair treads were painted dark aubergine, then
“modern upholstery keeps the room from looking old hat,”
says designer Frank Hodge of his approach to the living room.
“And layering without crowding adds a sense of history.” The
long curtain panels behind the sofa are positioned so they don’t
obscure any of the architecture. The linen-upholstered ottoman
is tightly tailored with corner kick pleats.