Feature > Design for a Good Cause

“Give a man a dog for the health of his soul.”

So reads the word art painted high on a kitchen wall of the Browher family’s Meredith home that was chosen for as the 2008 Designer Show House to benefit the NH Humane Society.

Pet-loving design elements are plentiful, and this painted quote is one of many touches throughout the spacious sixteen-room show house that more than a dozen designers decorated for last summer’s open-house tour, which raised $30,000.

The funds will help keep more animals housed at the shelter for the winter (the society houses homeless cats and dogs until they are adopted into permanent homes), says Jan Naylor of Inside Outlook in Laconia, the designer who orchestrated the event for the NH Humane Society.

The NH Humane Society chose this hilltop estate with panoramic lake and mountain views as the 2008 Designer Show House for its intrinsic “wow” factor.

But perhaps more amazing than the 360-degree views was the ability of all these talented interior designers (working pro bono) to collaborate with their peers—and with paint and faux-finish expert Marcy Yerkes of Southern Accent Designs in Laconia—to create color schemes and design palettes that flowed effortlessly from room to room. At the same time, those designs reflected the individualized styles of the designers.

“I think the final design product was terrific,” says Naylor. “It was beautifully coordinated and no rooms jumped out as being out of sync. The designers worked really well together. They were unbelievably cooperative.”

“A show house project requires us to try to synchronize as much as possible, so there is harmony in the house,” adds Christian Boyér of Boyér Interior Design in Manchester, who designed the master bedroom. “That’s where the challenge comes in. In order to do that and maintain our uniqueness, we discuss with our adjacent room designers their color palette and try to complement it.”

The Master Suite

Of the master suite and bath on the third floor, Boyér says, “The breathtaking, 360-degree view inspired me.”

Although it was important to keep the windows open and unobstructed by shades or overdone drapes, “I wanted the space to feel warm,” he says.

The windows are flanked by white linen draperies trimmed with crystal beading, while a four-poster spindle bed in a dark wood anchors the spacious room. Boyér had the walls painted in a smoky gray/green, which added a soft touch to the white painted woodwork.

In the Game

For designer Dawn Heiderer of Design Inspiration in Center Harbor, Yerkes applied a leather faux finish to the bottom half of the game room’s walls and a distressed linen weave with a dog print above that.

As for her own approach, Heiderer says when working with professional designers on a show house like this, it’s best to “leave it up to each designer to respect the style of the house.”

While the style of the home was neo-Victorian, Heiderer says she chose a more traditional design that would work best with other design styles. “The best thing was to be traditional. It seems to blend with everything,” she says.

In the game room, Heiderer pulled inspiration and a color scheme from the existing Oriental rug and the deep brown mahogany pool table covered in rich red felt. She repeated the reds in the drapery fabric, on one recessed accent wall and in the bookcases above the fireplace. Stenciled pawprints—one of those whimsical pet elements—decorate the space above the mantle. In an adjoining octagonal room with a card table, a decorative dog covered with playing cards stands with paws on the window, looking out into the world.

Tissue-Paper Technique

Yerkes credits the designers with providing inspiring storyboards to choose colors and finishes from.

For example, working with Norm Poitras of Casual Cape and Lorie Taylor of Lake Style Interiors (both in Moultonborough), Yerkes applied a wall finish for the first-floor powder room that incorporated bronze metallic tissue paper. To achieve the look, Yerkes first painted a taupe base, applied the metallic tissue paper and a glaze, and then sealed the finish with polyurethane. The color was inspired by one of the tones in the marble countertop.

In the hallway, Yerkes again used the tissue-paper technique—this time with stenciled leaf colors that incorporated the greens, browns and bronze tones of the walls of the first floor.

In the Guest Rooms

Designer Edwina Drummond—of Edwina Drummond Interiors in Freedom, N.H., and Waltham, Massachusetts—took on the home’s two guest bedrooms. She drew her inspiration in one of the rooms from a “boisterous and colorful” Prescott rug, which anchored the space. She retained the color of the room’s soft green walls but painted the room’s “fifth wall,” the ceiling, a soft cream color.

“This was my serenity room,” she says. “I was inspired by the color. I wanted to keep this room very warm but light in feel. I love blue and green together, and knew right away that I would use pale blue as the accent to the green.”

The Family and the Sun Rooms

Interior designer Maria Perron of Village House Interiors in Bristol agreed to do the family room and adjoining octagonal sunroom. She, too, consulted with designers of adjacent rooms before diving into her color palette for the space. A lover of the Victorian and “romantic” styles, Perron brought in “timeless” pieces—including her own black-and-white family photos— to bring warmth into the space. The Zimmerman Collection furnishings included a half-round sofa covered in a Damask print fabric as well as two sizes of ottomans—a kidney shape and a bench style. Also in the rooms were antique toys and dolls, and a Tiffany lamp from Perron’s collection.

The Dining Room

In the relatively small dining room, designer Lynne Cheney of Atherton Rye Design Professionals in Portsmouth created an intimate space for wine and cheese tasting. She started with cappuccino-colored walls in a faux, textured finish. Atop a large iron urn, she placed a round glass tabletop and used only two upholstered, comfy chairs in the room. The room blends new and old.

“I was shooting for that wine-cellar feel,” Cheney says. “I had found this beautiful eighteenth-century chest of drawers that was a nice contrast with the brand-new glass tabletop.”

With the room only eleven feet by twelve feet, Cheney says the idea was to showcase the small space and keep it interesting.

The Living Room

Sue Bartlett of Bartlett Design Associates in Concord took advantage of the panoramic view from the living room, which is flooded in light most of the day.

“I wanted to make sure we didn’t obscure the view on this house.” she says. “So I chose window treatments with flexibility. The semi-transparent matchstick shades could be raised to take in the view or lowered to screen the light. The draperies could be taken down from the wood tiebacks to cover the windows at night for insulation.

To highlight the interior view, Bartlett used a cinnamon shade of paint on the walls, which are glazed with horizontal stripes in a coppery finish all around the room. “I thought the stripes would unify the room, since there were so many openings in it for doors and windows,” she says.

As for pet-themed touches, Bartlett made a game out of it—literally. “I created a scavenger hunt, where visitors had to find ten pet references in the room. They varied from a picture of one of my cats to a raffia dog in a bed,” she says. The winner received a beautiful chest from Harden Furniture.

The Breakfast Room

For the breakfast room, Barbara Bernier of Barbara Bernier Interior Design in Henniker drew inspiration from the spectacular view—and from the colors of breakfast fruits. The focal point of her design is the pear color on the walls, which she balanced with neutral tans, awning-striped draperies and tan chair fabrics. She also hung a large painting of a pear above a sideboard with a dark mahogany stain.

“The fun part about show houses is that the organizers let you be creative,” she says, and this one certainly fit that bill.