Designers work their magic for the Museums of Old York’s Decorator Show House

Designers took their cues from the natural beauty surrounding a waterfront home for the 2013 Museums of Old York’s Decorator Show House, Secret Cove.

Relaxing in Style

Of the sitting room that looks out to a screened porch, Meredith Bohn of Meredith Bohn Interior Design in Hollis says, “I wanted to make the space comfortable, without being stuffy and show that antiques could be used in a way that is approachable.”

Inspired by coastal seabirds, depicted in four original lithographs by British artist John Gould, she worked with a neutral color palette of black, tans, whites and grays. The soothing colors complemented the bold hues of the owners’ gardens, visible through the windows. A combination of antique and contemporary pieces enhanced the room.
Lighting throughout reflected a celestial theme.

Meredith Bohn Interior Design 

The Shopping List

1) Paint on the walls is Slipper Satin by Farrow & Ball; paint on the trim is Pointing by Farrow & Ball; painting and custom finishes by Bob Gagnon of Architectural Coatings, Inc. in Manchester • 624-2784

2) John Gould’s original lithographs from Brookline Village Antiques in Boston, Massachusetts •  (617) 542- 2853 •

3) Table lamps from Lighting by the Sea in Hampton Falls • 601-7354 •

4) The Louis Vuitton trunk is an antique that belongs to Meredith Bohn • 465-2108 •

An Exotic Bedroom Suite

One of Secret Cove’s greatest creative challenges was the first-floor master bedroom suite, a large space with a structural support beam rooted right in the center. Interested in creating a restful retreat, designer Patricia Finn of Finn-Martens Design in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts, turned the beam into the room’s focal point, wrapping it in mahogany and adding woven wood blinds on either side to create what she called “the Bali bedroom.” The beam and blinds acted as a divider, creating two separate spaces: a bedroom and two sitting areas. In the sitting area is a carved wood chair that Finn says looks like “something you’d see at an island resort.”

“The bedroom is a wonderful setting overlooking the river,” Finn says. “I completely changed the orientation of the room to take advantage of the river views and created three distinct spaces for sleeping, reading, and watching TV or lounging.” Finn wanted to convey a sense of being on vacation by making the line between indoors and outdoors more fluid (the homeowners once lived on a boat). Earth tones, natural wood and fibers helped create an island-resort feel; the bathroom, in soothing blues, also felt like a spa.

Finn-Martens Design 
(978) 927-9959

The Shopping List

1) Seascape painting from the Walsingham Gallery in Newburyport, Massachusetts • (978) 499-4411 •

2) Floor lamp from Bali and made from a wooden beam.

3) Hammered copper circle from Baker •

4) Curved wooden chair from Baker •

5) Chaise longue from Icon Group in the Boston Design Center (sales to the trade)

6) Pillows from Baker •

7) Lamps from Baker •

8) Quilt and pillows from Pottery Barn •

9) Ikat rug from Landry & Acari • (617) 399-6500 •

An Elegant Living Room

Designed by Michael Englehardt of Ethan Allen Design Center in Portsmouth in a panopoly of soft green and wood tones, the living room and conservatory have two prominent features. First is the view. “I was trying to marry the indoors with the outdoors because the gardens were so spectacular,” Englehardt says. “To draw the eye to the gardens, I used warm browns with the greens.” 

Second was an elegant harpsichord, which, according to Joel Lefever, executive director of the Museums of Old York, was “a highlight” of the show house. Made in the 1980s, the harpsichord was restored by Steven Mallory, a York-based historic preservationist and instrument maker. He also painted the pastoral scene of Secret Cove on the inside of the instrument’s lid.

Michael Englehardt
Ethan Allen Design Center


The Shopping List

1) Paint on the walls is Benjamin Moore’s Ivy League; paint on the trim is Benjamin Moore’s White Dove •

2) Leather-topped coffee table, side table, lamps, pillows on the sofa, rug, draperies and other accessories from Ethan Allen Design Center • 431-9144 •

3) Harpsichord restored by Steven Mallory of the  Museums of Old York •

Classic Landscaping

Secret Cove’s verdant gardens were enhanced and maintained by Charles C. Hugo Landscape Design, LLC of South Berwick, Maine. “We emphasized the waterfront by shaping the views and spaces,” says Amber Liljeholm, project manager for Charles C. Hugo Landscape Design. Perennials in the garden—including hostas, spirea and hydrangea—were transplanted to maximize their natural beauty and seasonal appeal.

Charles C. Hugo Landscape Design, LLC

The Shopping List

1) Patio Furniture from Georgie’s Home & Garden • (207) 363-6270

2) Plantings on the patio by Linda Zucas • Churchill’s Gardens • 772-2685 •

A Handsome Study 

With two windows, two doors and two closets, the second-floor study presented a design challenge for Frank Hodge of F.D.

Hodge Interiors in Boston. Hodge’s solution: hide one of the windows with a painting (his own creation of latex on board called Translation), and cover a closet and two doors with gray curtains. “The painting became the focal point of the room,” Hodge says. “The only way to create the room was to re-create the space.” 

The study is about restraint. Inspired by two framed Picasso engravings and a book of Picasso sketches, Hodge chose fabrics and furniture in subtle, masculine grays, soft whites and beige, accented by bright red. Some pieces, including the white bookcases and desk, were custom-made for the room.

F.D. Hodge Interiors  
(617) 267-8103

The Shopping List

1) English Regency library steps from the 1840s; a 1920s settee covered  in blue mohair; a Baltic-style desk chair from the 1820s from Frank Hodge’s collection • F. D. Hodge Interiors • (617) 267-8103 •

2) Custom bookcases and desk, from Studio 534 at the Boston Design Center • (617) 345-9900 •

A Cheery Guest Cottage  

Surrounded by gardens and situated on the waterfront, a small guest cottage on the Secret Cove property proved to be a visitor favorite. Anne Cowenhoven, of Accent & Design, Inc. in York, Maine, went for an unexpected design, using the gardens as inspiration. 

As a result, the main floor of the cottage was a cheerful medley of pinks, greens and whites, from the spatter-painted floor (by Judy Dibble of Brookwood Designs in Hopkinton) to a bright lime-green bed, desk and side table. The queen-sized bed was oriented toward sliding glass doors that open to a small porch overlooking the water; the flower-printed curtains framing the doors offered a brilliant splash of color. “I was inspired by the curtains’ wonderful garden-themed fabric,” Cowenhoven says. “I envisioned the space as a place for a young married couple to stay while visiting home.”

Accent & Design, Inc. 
(207) 363-7949

The Shopping List

1) Drapery fabric by Greeff, a division of  F. Schumacher & Co. •

2) Area rug from Stark Carpet in Boston • (617) 357-5525 •

3) Bed and bedside table from American Traditions in Hampton Falls • 926-3007 •

4) Artwork from the George Marshall Store  Gallery in York, Maine • (207) 351-1083 •

5) Loveseat from American Traditions in Hampton Falls • 926-3007 •

6) Fabric for the coverlet on the bed from Robert Allen •

A Screened Porch at One with the Outdoors  

The lushness of the yard was echoed at the show house entrance, a small porch on the back of the home. The space was enhanced by containers created by Linda Zukas of Churchill’s Gardens in Exeter.  

The screened porches—two narrow, L-shaped areas—were designed by Barbara Elza Hirsch of Elza B. Design, Inc. in Acton, Massachusetts. As an outdoor sitting and dining area, the porches had waterproof furnishings and accessories that could withstand the elements yet remain elegant and comfortable. “The home’s landscape and gorgeous view spoke to me strongly in terms of the color and feel I wanted to render in the space,” Hirsch says. “I wanted it to feel as though the outside and the inside blended together.” Using a subtle color scheme—greens, aquas, teals, whites and grays—Hirsch used fabrics as well as textured and natural materials such as wicker, wood and glass in both areas, blending them seamlessly.

Churchill’s Gardens 

Elza B. Design, Inc
 (781) 859-7817

The Shopping List

1) Lighting fixtures from Lucia Lighting & Design • (781) 595-0026 •

2) Paint finishes by Bob Gagnon of Architectural Coatings, Inc. in Manchester • 624-2784

3) Plantings by Linda Zukas of Churchill’s Gardens • 772-2685 •

4) Sofas and Sunbrella cushions by Kingsley-Bate •

5) Outdoor rug from Stark Carpet in Boston (617) 357-5525 •

6) Dining table by Kingsley-Bate •

The 2014 Decorator Show House

An annual fundraiser for the Museums of Old York, the Decorator Show House marks its twenty-fifth anniversary this July.

The 2014 Decorator Show House is Harbor Lights, a Dutch Colonial-style home built in 1906 as a summer residence for Frank W. Rollins, a governor of New Hampshire. Located on Rocky Knoll, overlooking the York River, the home has many original period details, including the woodwork and fireplaces. The home is open to the public July 19 through August 16; a preview party is scheduled for July 18. Events include a luncheon lecture series and fashion show. For ticket sales and information, visit or call (207) 363-4974.

Categories: Architecture and Interiors