An Ocean Showcase

Designers all found inspiration in similar color palettes for the eighteen free-flowing rooms of the 2010 Museums of Old York Decorator Show House.

Nearly one hundred years ago York, Maine, was advertised as having a summer climate "as near perfection as possible for any earthly place to have," according to Virginia Spiller, librarian at the Museums of Old York.

Crowds are still drawn to York's picturesque harbor and beaches as well as to the annual Museums of Old York Decorator Show House. The York show house is "a tre­mendous gift from a lot of people who contribute their time and talents," says Scott Stevens, executive director of the Museums of Old York. The show house, which raises money for the museum, draws visitors from across the Northeast as well as designers from New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts.

Twin Cottage-a pale-gray, Shingle-style home-was the 2010 show house. Standing on a small rise overlooking York Harbor, Twin Cottage was built as a sum­mer residence around 1904 for Henry Dominick, president of the venerable New York silversmith firm Dominick and Haff. Similar in style to its "sister" cottage next door, Mayfair (the 2007 show house), Twin Cottage is spacious, with free-flowing rooms. A deep veranda in the back of the house offers a peak at the ocean.

Coincidentally, all designers chose neutral color palettes for the eighteen rooms. "The designers picked colors that really flowed throughout the house," says Beverly Young, show house event coordinator for the Muse­ums of Old York. "The house has a lot of areas that flow from one to another without much definition, so it was nice to see the transition from one room to the next."

Welcoming the outdoors

The veranda was a perfect outdoor enter­tainment space. Georgie McGowan, of Geor­gie's Home Décor in York, used it to create a sitting area and an outside dining nook.

"Iwanted visitors to have a sense of how they could relax outdoors," McGowan says.

The floor was painted a vibrant New­buryport blue, contrasting with the ocean-inspired grays, greens and white in the space. McGowan grouped custom-made Adiron­dack chairs, a hanging glider and vintage platform rockers around a glass-topped table to create the sitting area. Directly op­posite, a white-iron, glass-topped table and chairs created an informal dining area, with a sheer blue drape offering privacy from neighbors. Whimsical details such as a cast-iron mermaid, a wooden whale and a large hand-painted floorcloth added personality.

Cool spaces, warm hearth

Twin Cottage's elegance and seaside location inspired all of the designers, who responded with rooms featuring neutral palettes of gray, taupe, sage green, beige, ecru or white.

In the living room, Boston designer Frank Hodge of F.D. Hodge Interiors wanted to keep the room true to the integrity of the house. The room was furnished with a mix of an­tiques and modern upholstery. His palette of taupe and sage green reflected the colors of the Khotan Oriental rug. French antiques-such as two silk damask bergère chairs and an eighteenth-century commode-were juxta­posed with a contemporary sage-green linen sofa and tub chairs in a taupe bouclé. Judy Dibble of Hopkinton created a marble-like texture on the walls using a Venetian plas­ter technique that was custom-colored to match the rug. Hodge's biggest design challenge was creating window treatments that wouldn't take away from the windows themselves or their views. "I created very tailored, fabric-covered shutters to ensure privacy but also allowed the windows to be the focal point of the room," he says.

Another visitor favorite was the coolly elegant dining room designed by Nicole Yee of NY Interiors, in Oakland, Califor­nia, and Kittery, Maine. Inspired by Twin Cottage's aristocratic style, Yee wanted to evoke the seaside "without being cli­ché," she says. "I wanted to balance the room so that it was sophisticated but also comfortable."

The dining room was graceful, but long and narrow. Yee painted the walls gray, with cream and white accents; the ceiling was lacquered white, creating a high gloss that reflected the room's light. A rectangu­lar dining table set for eight was centered in the room; Yee layered linen tablecloths on top for a casual feel. She played with proportion by adding comfortable, large-scale head chairs at each end of the table. Antique side chairs were refinished and reuphol­stered in Belgian linen. To add sophistication to the room, Cyan De­sign of Texas created a stunning chandelier with leaf-shaped details and delicate crystals to hang over the table. Antique blue glassware on the table and throughout the room brightened the space and added texture.

Masterful bedrooms

Inspired by a gray, ikat-patterned fabric, Diane Hughes, of Diane Hughes Interiors in Rye, created a restful master bedroom in sooth­ing hues of ecru and gray. "I put together fabrics first and then I de­sign my room," she says. "I do things a little formally, because I think show houses should be over the top."

Hughes began with a wing chair covered in the ikat fabric and let her imagination follow. The bedroom walls, painted a gray with a lavender hue, changed with the room's natural light. The tiger-maple canopy bed, covered in a cream-colored woven silk with an embroidered accent pillow, was placed at an angle in one corner of the room. Nearby was a comfortable sitting area, with a loveseat and fireplace. The room was tied together visually by a tone-on-tone, wool and silk carpet from Nepal. The striped, silk window treatment-hung on hooks and tied off to one side-added a touch of drama.

The teen's bedroom and study were a cheerful mix of color and fun. Designed by Bridget Bleckmann of Penumbra Textile in Rollins­ford and Christine McGill of Christine's Crossing in Rye, the rooms occupied the third floor of Twin Cottage. Bleckmann, a textile de­signer trained at the Rhode Island School of Design, was immedi­ately taken by the space. "I thought what a cool place this would be for a teen girl to be with her friends," she says. "We wanted to cre­ate a sunny, surfer-girl-like bedroom space." The bedroom, a bright room with a lot of natural sunlight, was the perfect backdrop for Bleckmann's bright turquoise and yellow, organic-inspired fabrics.

Bleckmann and McGill envisioned the study as a "teen hangout" and incorporated a cooler, smokier gray palette, accented by blues and yellows. Bleckmann pieced together several textiles from dif­ferent Penumbra collections to make the draperies and seat covers for the study's custom-built window seats. A contemporary touch came from a light fixture by Rhode Island glass artist Tracy Glover that was covered in a Penumbra fabric shade.

Bleckmann was thrilled to showcase her textiles. "This was the first designer show house I've ever done," she says. "It was a great opportunity."

A break from the ordinary

Valerie Jorgensen, of V. Jorgensen Design, LLC, in Wells, Maine, proposed a nontraditional nursery for the second-floor parent/baby retreat. "I envisioned this as a space where you could take care of the baby but keep a sophisticated feeling for the parents," Jorgensen says. "After all, infants aren't tastemakers yet! This room could evolve nicely into the next stages of childhood."

The simple lines of a daybed painted lemongrass yellow sparked Jorgensen's imagination. "It really started the concept that this was a space where parents could hang out," she says. Topped with pillows and cushions in grays, browns and citron yellow, the daybed added a contemporary feel to the room, which was paint­ed a soft brown. The accent wall featured a hand-painted design by decorative painter Galen Martin Mott of South Berwick, Maine (who echoed a medallion pattern from the daybed coverlet on the stenciled wall). A red, nineteenth-century, lacquered elm Chinese cabinet functioned as a modern-day infant changing table, with a portable changing station on top. A sleek, dark-brown rocking cradle provided a comfortable place for a baby to sleep.

Despite the many different spaces in the 2010 York show house, the home came together beautifully. "I love doing the show house," says Joyce Jordan of Joyce Jordan Interiors in Hampton Falls, who designed the second-floor reading room. "So much thought and energy goes into it."