Part I -- Classic Chinoiserie
The 2016 Junior League of Boston may have closed over two weeks ago, but some rooms are still fresh in my mind. This was the 45th anniversary of the show house, the last one being in 2012. The site this year was the Nathaniel Allen House in Newton, Massachusetts.
If you're a long-time reader of my blog, you'll remember I chronicled my experience participating in the previous Junior League of Boston Show House. I sat out this time. I had heard that the house was a wreck and I didn't want to devote the capital, nor did I have the mental energy to devote to what seemed like a major investment. Being a show house designer is one of the best professional experiences I've ever had, but this year it wasn't in the cards.
My favorite rooms this year had two notable characteristics. The first was the classic and ever popular use of chinoiserie. The second was the dominance of hot colors.
Chinoiserie is a centuries-old design style inspired by the influx of goods brought to Europe from the Far East during the Spice Trade. Today, we see it represented in lacquered and pagoda-like forms and Oriental imagery adorning fabrics, wallcoverings and furniture. At the show house, we saw the more classical interpretation in rooms designed by Boston designer Gerald Pomeroy. And we saw a more modern interpretation in a bedroom designed by Elizabeth Benedict. Both were such extraordinary examples of great design.
If any designer in Boston represents traditional style and fills the enormous shoes of the legendary William Hodgins, the dean of Boston residential interior design, it is Gerald Pomeroy. His designs have a classic elegance. At the show house, he designed the Receiving Room and the Sitting Room, both resplendent in the fine craftsmanship and quality materials his designs are known for.
The view, above left, is as you entered the Receiving Room. Although the de Gournay wallpaper created a picturesque and nature-inspired atmosphere for the room, the octagon center table, beautifully dressed with a custom embroidered table-skirt is the focal point. That table-skirt was created by Ankasa, known previously for its fabrics and embroideries adorning high fashion, and now available for interiors. To the right of the entry, was the japanned sideboard, carrying the eye into the adjoining Sitting Room.
In the Sitting Room (above), neutral upholstered furnishings, more contemporary in form, are the counterpoint to the more traditional elements of the Receiving Room. I especially liked Gerald's treatment of the ceilings in these adjoining rooms. The room lacked a beefy crown molding. To give the illusion of a deeper, more elaborate crown molding, Gerald continued the paint color of the walls onto the ceiling and then added a narrower, complimentary border to outline the plane. A beautiful way to draw the eye to the ceiling plane without detracting from the design at eye level!
In contrast to Gerald's more traditional interpretation of chinoiserie, Elizabeth Benedict gave a more contemporary version in her bedroom designed as feminine retreat inspired by her teenage daughter.
The image above shows how the room looked before Elizabeth left her mark.
Hot colors of pink and green are offset with the pastel blue backdrop. Adding pattern with textiles, a woven area carpet and trellis wallpaper on the ceiling plane, Elizabeth adds softness, harmony and interest. Chinoiserie accents include the lantern-adorned window-treatment fabric, Dana Gibson lamps and vases, ceramic garden stools and pagoda bookcase.
What keeps the room from being too youthful and going too far with chinoiserie is the contemporary art over the mantle, a great accent choice.