It might be difficult to improve on the natural glamour of the 90-year-old Stonecote Estate. But 25 area designers were given the opportunity to try, as part of this month’s 38th annual Bellarmine University Women’s Council Designers’ Show House.
Each designer has a space somewhere in, out or around the 7,000-square-foot house. Some have a sprawling living room or bedroom, some have a hallway or powder room, and some have patios, porches and pool houses along the exterior. The task, of course, was to make visitors mutter “wow!”
They’re competing with the first “wow!” that goes to the long drive in off of Alta Vista Way approaching the house, which sits on five acres in the Lexington Road Preservation Area. It’s a classic fieldstone Scottish Tudor, with charming roof lines, long tall windows and all kinds of intriguing architectural angles.
The next “wow!” is the huge, long living room just inside the front door, designed by Tassels. A big wood parsons table right in the front is adorned with a large pot of tall, orange foxtail lilies surrounded by a thick arrangement of hydrangeas, providing an immediate taste of eye candy.
The room itself is a comfortable array of colorful furniture positioned in easy conversation sets under a painted beam ceiling, designed for sitting and listening to the baby grand piano in the corner and looking at the big stone fireplace.
“We wanted a clean and natural look and feel,” said Tassels designer Kevin Coleman, “with a neutral canvas and pops of color.”
Tassels’ big room, dramatic and eye-catching though it is, is only a portal into the rest of the house, which offers designers lots of interesting corners and areas in which to work.
Two double French doors at the rear of the living room lead into the conservatory, an outdoorsy space with vaulted beadboard ceilings, stone walls and a red tile floor. Cherry House used soft upholstery, Oriental rugs and drapery panels to “create a warm and inviting area that sweeps you into another world.”
That other world is a gracious rear terrace and outdoor patio furnished by Digs Home & Garden that’s both cutting-edge and trendy – sleek, with its teak furniture, and traditional, with its garden bench.
To the left of the living room and conservatory is the kitchen-and-dining-room suite, a bright and fun assortment of patterns and props (like a single set of antlers on one wall, a mounted gazelle head on another). Dwellings created a country farm house feel in the kitchen and butler’s pantry. The mud room was turned into a personal rear-entry foyer by Thomas Kute Ltd. (including a signed basketball from last year’s Bellarmine Division II men’s national championship team). And the elegant formal dining room by Colonial Designs features a painted chinoiserie mural on the wall by artist Sandy Kimura and two round, intimate dining tables festooned with sprays of casablanca lilies.
Off the other side of the living room is the master suite: a tranquil, park-like bedroom from Leslie Lewis & Associates; a huge bathroom by Kimura Design, featuring the artist’s work on a hand-painted wall mural and folding floor screen; and a personal, modern study by Virginia Court Interiors full of cherished photos and family items. “You are no longer keeping up with the Joneses,” said designer Jason Beck about this concept. “You have become the Joneses.”
There are three stairways up to the second floor, with its four bedrooms, three baths and a sitting room. All take full advantage of the architecture and dramatic window views. In one of the bedrooms, Gary Stewart Interiors created a calming, restful retreat because, Stewart asked, “What should a bedroom be but restful?”
It’s a neutral palette punched with the natural colors borrowed from right outside the windows, such as green lamps; antique Majolica plates; a vintage loveseat procured from consignment and refinished by A-1 Upholsterers; and striped wallpaper with the feel of French brush color washing, from Hikes Point Paint & Wallpaper.
The adjoining bathroom, produced by Decorating Den Interiors, is equally warm and welcoming, with Carrera marble surfaces and cabinetry painted Stormy Gray (from Porter Paints) playing off beadboard walls; linen shower curtains with crystal detailing; and an upholstered cheetah bench.
“It’s vintage meets modern glam,” said designer Kristen Pawlak.
Design excitement doesn’t end at the walls of the house. Outside in the back, along a stone path past Digs’ comfortable and functional patio, is an inviting swimming pool full of spitting fountains. Summer Classics furnished a comfortable porch. And the pool house itself, by Details Design & Cabinetry, is a long and comfortable apartment all its own. Designers used “a trio of timeless colors – shades of blue, red and green” to achieve the effortless, breezy feel they were after.
“Grounding the project,” said Details’ Lesa Buckler, “was a daring shade of palm frond green for the kitchen cabinets and sleek Carrera marble countertops.” Also worth mentioning was a gold-spattered animal skin rug in the bedroom.
Other participating designers include: Carriage House Interiors, The Curtain Exchange, Domain Fabric & Interiors, Eclectic Living, Habitation, Hubbuch & Co., The French Pleat, Interiors by Carrie, Jason Jennings Interior Fashion, Maximum Design & Décor, Southern Inspirations by Linda Gale, Steinbock Interior Design and Sullivan College of Technology & Design.
The event will run Sept. 10-25, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday; and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Designers will be in their rooms on Tuesdays and Thursdays (from 5 to 7) to discuss their work. And some of the designers will also conduct special workshops during the event, on topics such as “The Psychology of Color” and “Decorative Trends.”
There will also be a separate preview party, a seminar by homeowner Christina West, a café catered by Gracious Plenty and a merchandise boutique.
General admission tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door. Schedules, maps, ticket availability and information on special events are available by calling 502.272.8105 or visiting www.bellarmine.edu/womenscouncil.
photos by CHRIS HUMPHREYS | Voice-Tribune
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