Blogging the York, ME Show House 2013

This is first of several posts I hope to write commenting on the design and creation of the spaces that I am doing for the York Historical Society Designer’s Show House (York, Maine).  I have always found the articles that I have read about the creation and execution of a design very interesting, I and hope you will as well.  I recently read a great post about the selection of artwork for a Show House Dining Room for the Kansas City Design Show House by my friend and colleague, Tam Stone which I thought was fascinating.

I thought I would begin with the selection of the rooms(s) and express what I chose and why I selected those spaces for my submission.

When touring the home selected in Kittery Point, ME – I was struck by the absolutely breathtaking site on the high bluff over the water, as well as the interesting connection of the house with the sloping lot.  This house basically steps up the hillside and almost every room has a view of the water, so my design needed to take advantage of the great light and striking views.  The entry floor for the show house will be the first floor which houses the kitchen, dining and sittings rooms as well as the Master Bedroom, mudroom in the back and a large storage Butler’s Pantry.  The main stair in the house climbs right up through the middle of the house and is lit by a large skylight which bathes the interior with great natural light.

Second floor sitting area showing central stair
Second floor sitting area showing central stair


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Main Kitchen/Dining area
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Main Kitchen/Dining area looking back toward Entry

The Kitchen, Dining room and Sitting room on the first level is a wide open space and the design choices need to make sense throughout the whole space.  The house is a newer construction and this is the central gathering space that so many families look for when purchasing a home.  While the current color scheme needs updating, the whole space is generous, but still very cohesive and the proportions are nice.  There are quiet corners available, and the working areas are comfortable and well thought out.  I felt that this room offered many opportunities to showcase a wide range of design ideas, as well as show what was possible to pull such a varied space together.

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Sitting area off Kitchen/Dining
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Breakfast Nook area off Kitchen/Dining

At the top of the staircase is a wonderful sitting area, currently set up as an office.  This room has the most beautiful view of the water and you really have a sense of being up in the treetops.  I simply fell in love with this area, the view and the light were spectacular!  I felt that the dramatic curved dormer ceiling was calling out to be highlighted by a great color and I wanted to present something in my design that was a complete surprise for the visitor.  Here is the picture of this space before we do our work.  (all of these images of the house are showing the “before”)

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Sitting room at the top of the stairs, currently set up as an office.
LOOK at that water out the window!!!

As you can tell, these two particular areas really held an interest to me and these are the spaces for which I presented design proposals.  This year is the first year that the York Historical Society has made available furniture from their collection that we can use in the space.  There is a beautiful, black Windsor bench that is a very clean version of this old design.  It appears quite modern, even though it is vintage. There is also, a set of tiger maple dining chairs that I am very excited to incorporate into the design!


I was very inspired, as I always am at the seacoast, with the wonderful, natural colors of the salt water marshes, the seabirds and the rocky shore that we have here in New Hampshire and southern Maine.  The shades of creamy white of the sea foam and white caps, the really wonderful tans and grays of the rocks and sand and marsh, and the black and deep gray of the edges and shadows all work together to create that sense of restfulness and yet, invigoration of the seashore!  This year I created a proposal that takes these neutral tones and I put together a room design that is bright and clean –  Modern and traditional at the same time.  I was also inspired by the wildlife at the seacoast and I am incorporating birds and bird images in what I believe is a fresh and interesting way.  This is one of the Audubon prints that I will be using, and I also found some gorgeous John Gould prints of seabirds. (This artist is considered the English version of Audubon and is also considered the father of Australian bird study, as well as working with Darwin as he was studying his finches.)

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I don’t want to give away too much, but on my next post I will detail some of my progress on the Kitchen/Dining/Sitting room.  I will also give you a few more details regarding the furniture, paints and sponsors from the local area.  I hope you will “stay tuned”.

The room at the top of the stairs with the spectacular view is going to be a very different space than the one you see here!  This time my design proposal was inspired by a fabric and its colors.  Remember that curved dormer?  I didn’t want to follow the crowd and do a sky blue ceiling – I believe that there are many other choices to do a fresh color without always doing seaside rooms in shades of blue and white.  I LOVE blue and white, but I wanted something unexpected, and yet still fresh and light.  I DID want to incorporate a “trendy” color that I have been seeing quite a bit, but not because it was trendy, but because it was unexpected in this space.  This fabric was full of color, traditional in style, but totally modern in color palette.  Here is small picture of that portion of the proposal board, showing the fabric….but just a sneak peak!

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WELL, we are off and running! As I mentioned, I hope to do several posts detailing the progress and many, many thanks to the York, ME Historical Society for selecting my proposals,  and putting their trust in me for this Designer’s Show House, it is a wonderful honor! We will be working on the house from now through the 4th of July, and I hope you will consider visiting our wonderful New England seacoast this summer!

For more information, please look at their website for the dates and times as well as special events planned around the tour.  This year is the 24th Design Show House and “Secret Cove” promises to be beautiful!

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