Charity begins at home, so the saying goes. Saugerties-based interior designer Maryline Damour has given the old trope new meaning.
In 2018, Damour spearheaded the first designer showhouse put on by the Kingston Design Connection (KDC), an organization she founded to foster camaraderie and business connections among Hudson Valley creatives, artisans, and tradespeople. Many key professional relationships were forged, yes, but that was only part of the story—the showhouse also provided interested locals with the opportunity to see the work of dozens of talented design pros, up close and in one place. People could come check out creativity and emerging design trends in real-life settings. And by tradition, a local charity benefited from showhouse ticket sales, adding a feel-good component. (Habitat for Humanity in Ulster County, which plans to build three houses a year going forward, received all the 2022 showhouse proceeds.)
This year was the first time the KDC transformed a longtime commercial property into a private home. The to-do list included creating a kitchen from scratch since the building didn’t have one and adding a new bathroom.
Also, for the first time this year, cooperatives and partnerships were established among individuals to work together on rooms, further developing the goal of creative collaboration. There was an environmental aspect, too, because Kingston experienced a significant drought over the summer: a landscape designer removed all the grass from the front of the house to establish an eco-friendly, water-saving native plant garden.
Concepting and furnishing their assigned space is a labor of love for all of the chosen creative pros. “Being given a raw space to completely transform in six weeks really pushes you to your creative limits,” says designer Nicole Fisher of BNR Interiors in Hudson. “In a showhouse, you have carte blanche to create a room that truly showcases your aesthetic with no holds barred, which is exciting.”
Kitchen designer Jessica Williams of Hendley & Co in Newburgh wholly agrees about the exhilaration factor, but also points out, “A showhouse space can often feel more challenging than one for a client because you’re putting yourself in the client chair.” Clearly the Showhouse Class of 2022 was more than up to the task. Interior designer Simone Eisold appreciated the opportunity to share her designs in the showhouse, but also felt “incredibly inspired” by her fellow creators. Other designers expressed similar sentiments. In the end, another classic old saying comes to mind: Home is where the heart is.
Funds raised through ticket sales for this year’s Showhouse benefited Ulster County Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit organization that helps families build homes, offers resources, and training to assist with improving shelter conditions and advocates for fair housing policies. Visit ulsterhabitat.org to learn more.
Designer: Nicole Fisher, BNR Interiors, @bnrinteriors
“We wanted to go bold and saturated in here,” says Fisher. “I’m partial to green, and the Porter Teleo wallpaper in Emeraude just brought the whole room to life.” The watercolor effect on the paper looks remarkably like marble, which syncs beautifully with a fireplace that juxtaposes a modern black marble surround with a vintage cast iron insert. To boost room’s the coziness, Fisher brought in a vintage Ueli Berger sofa (De Sede D-600 “Non-stop”) from The Modern Exchange in Hudson. The nine modular pieces can be arranged to make a single couch or divided into two, three, or more pieces. “We love a space to feel fresh, but lived in,” says Fisher. “A space that tells a story.”
Designer: Simone Eisold, Simone Eisold Design, @simone.eisold
“Walking into this 1901 Victorian my eyes were immediately drawn to the light streaming through the original stain glass window,” says Eisold. The light reminded her of landscapes and skies depicted by Luminist painters of the mid-1800s and inspired her vision for the space. Modern lighting plus artist Mollie McKinley’s photographic sculpture, “Blue Froth Phantasm,” with its bold strip of neon light, creates a glow that sets the stage for a corridor of art.
Interior designers have a new appreciation for plaster walls, says Eisold, who chose pale blue. Tech has transformed the material, allowing for colors and textures that add depth and character. Also, plaster doesn’t emit compounds that are bad for air quality, it absorbs sound, doesn’t allow mold growth, and lasts longer than painted walls.
The re-do of this space was inspired by research into the property’s history. The team imagined the lives of the three original residents in 1901—Elizabeth Van Gaasbeek and her nieces Alice and Anna. The plan: morph an upstairs bedroom into a retreat for reading and contemplation. The transformation included turning a closet into a reading nook, adding Quittner-designed lighting, and sourcing art and furnishings from over a dozen different artists and makers. The room’s primary paint color, Audubon Russett by Benjamin Moore, is a close cousin of the company’s recently announced 2023 Color of the Year, Raspberry Blush. Also, the hand-painted floor cloth by Studio Teppi speaks to the rising trend of painted floors. The idea of a private space that isn’t a bedroom and doesn’t have a television is catching on as people move away from open floor plans. Assorted artwork feels collected over time. Pro tip: Using a picture rail, such as this one by House of Antique Hardware, is a traditional way of hanging art that is ideal for plaster walls, but it’s a great choice for anyone who wants to be able to move art around without having holes to fill.
Designer: Jessica Williams, Hendley & Co, @hendleyandco
“While designing the kitchen, we found inspiration from our late grandmothers, how their kitchens would look and feel with a contemporary twist,” offers Williams. Painting the ceiling and trim in distinctive hues (Forest Moss and Ruby Dusk respectively, both by Benjamin Moore) introduces a modern contrast to all the mahogany on the show-stopping refrigerator surround and millwork, which is by Eric Penderleith of E. Penderleith & Co., a Hudson-based fabrication and design studio. Tortoise shell and oxblood color hardware from Modern Matter provide contrast on the cabinets, and durable, stain-resistant porcelain works hard on the countertops. Using everyday items as décor (oven mitts and utensils) elevates utilitarianism to a take on sculpture elements.