Creative Collaboration

Since 1963, the Bellarmine University Women’s Council has worked to assist students in reaching academic and service goals through various fundraising efforts, and none has proven more popular than the organization’s annual Designers’ Show House. Drawing hundreds of visitors each day of the two-week-long event, the Designers’ Show House features an historic local residence, outfitted with fresh ideas and the latest trends in interior design. More than 30 of the area’s top designers successfully competed for the opportunity to display their taste and talents in the ideal setting of this year’s elegant venue, the Wilkinson House, a Frederic Morgan-designed home set in Anchorage, Ky. The Voice-Tribune’s photographer, Chris Humphreys, and I took a sneak peek inside the newly-remodeled, beautifully redecorated interior of the Georgian-style house, which will be opened up to the public this Saturday, Sept. 8.

From its exterior, the Wilkinson House exudes charm – glittering copper accents, a rustic fountain and a romantic slate roof invite visitors to step inside and rest after a short stroll across the pine-lined Anchorage estate. Once inside, one is greeted in the foyer by a romantic, curved wooden stair, spiraling up to a vaulted skylight resembling a lighthouse. Cues taken from the home’s area-appropriate nautical theme can be seen throughout, in rooms such as the living room, designed by Colonial Designs. Soft aqua walls make the perfect background for billowing, foam-like curtains and artwork featuring corals and seabirds. The relaxing, coastal feel carries across the hall to the study, designed by Tassels, Inc., where weathered driftwood accents and turquoise walls are complemented by a bookcase, complete with ladder, displaying various books and treasures. Indulgent textured fabrics in the rug and sofa convey the warmth and comfort of a grand, mid-century European ocean liner.

The master bedroom, designed by Steinbock Interior Design Group, continues the oceanic trend with tranquil blues and creams, creating a calm respite that is enhanced by sumptuous silk and linen bedding and window treatments. Faux finishes on the walls and ceiling add elegance to the space, a feeling that is echoed in the grand mirrored cabinets and dramatic wallpaper of the spacious adjoining master bath, designed by Valerie Meyer Interior Design.

In the heart of the house lies the open-plan combination kitchen and family room, both of which build upon the trend set with other rooms’ wooden accents to convey a traditional, localized feeling. The kitchen, designed by Atteberry Smith, features a beautiful American Black Walnut island counter top and cabinet interiors, a nod to the area’s history. The space transitions into a family room, designed by Dwellings, which was inspired by the timeless look of the cabinets. Weathered furniture and comfortable, cushy seating give of an easy, lived-in vibe.

Off to the side of the kitchen sits the dining room, designed by J. Waddell interiors, LLC. Bright green accents pop against the cream walls to mimic the hues visible in the garden found just outside the stately glass doors, while more subtle blues echo the nautical theme found in other rooms. An eclectic mix of whimsical, elegant and nature-inspired details, such as succulents in jars, ferns in antique-style vases and a modern chandelier, all come together to create a space that’s appropriate for casual living as well as upscale entertaining. “The inspiration was to make a space that’s both approachable, but also has an air of sophistication to it,” explained designer Joan Waddell.

While the first floor of the Wilkinson House is furnished with colors and pieces designed to enhance the openness of the space, the second floor’s charm lies in its abundance of natural light, a feature that did not go unnoticed by its resident designers. The upstairs guest bath, designed by Decorating Den Interiors, plays off the reds in the main hall with warm cherry accents atop a relaxed, airy, neutral palette of grey and ivory. Driftwood-colored shades recall the wooden accents found downstairs. In the English country estate-style guest living room, by Virginia Court Interiors, visitors are invited to unwind on a luxurious faux fur chair and ottoman amongst warm browns and blues. Nearby in the guest bedroom, designed by Eclectic Living, they can lounge in the afternoon sunlight atop one of the many cozy window seats, while an inviting bed nestled amongst safari-themed decor seems the prefect place for a weary traveler to lie down for the night.

Down the hall, a collaboration by The French Pleat Fine Designs and Southern Inspirations by Linda Gale has transformed bedroom B and its en suite bath into a soft, romantic retreat that is fit for a princess. Vintage furniture and a sumptuous canopy bed appear dream-like under light streaming in from the angled windows. Stenciled floors, sparkling walls and a sweet vanity convey old-world sophistication and classic femininity.

As beautiful as each designers’ vision – come to fruition in a particular room of the Wilkinson House – is, the truly impressive aspect of the Designers’ Show House is the seamless way in which each of those pieces connects to the larger whole, without losing its distinct individuality. This year the Bellarmine University Women’s Council looked over nearly 60 designers’ presentations, selecting themes and designs that would complement one another while still adhering to homeowner preference and meeting specific criteria.  “Our committee chooses (the designers), so then they present a design board back to us, and we try to coordinate the colors. And sometimes the owners will give guidelines, too,” described this year’s Show House chairman, JoAnn Miller, before adding with a smile, “But the designers are creative.” Offering a firsthand look at the kind of unique collaboration that only Louisville’s top design professionals could produce, this year’s Designers’ Show House is not one to miss.

The Wilkinson House, 1701 Evergreen Road, will be on display Sept. 8 through 23. Tickets are $15 at the door or can be purchased for $10 in advance at Colonial Design, Tassels, Inc. or any branch of Commonwealth Bank and Trust Company. Proceeds benefit the Bellarmine University Student Financial Aid Fund. For more information call 502.272.8105.

Photos by CHRIS HUMPHREYS | The Voice-Tribune