The 2013 Oxford Arts Alliance Decorator Showhouse and Gardens opened October 4 in Westover Hills, on the outskirts of Wilmington, with a well-attended Gala Preview Party the evening before. The 1927 Tudor-style house at 1106 Hopeton Road, just a few miles south of Winterthur, was originally owned by Alfred E. and Julia du Pont Bissell and maintains many of the original features. Twenty-four designers—each taking a room in the three-story, 6,700-square-foot home (currently for sale by Sotheby’s International Realty)—came together to restore the home to its former beauty. The house is filled with fabulous faux wall finishes, neutral palettes with surprising bursts of color, dramatic lighting, beautiful fabrics and furnishings, and lots of interesting ideas inside as well as out.
“Dining with the du Ponts”
When Winterthur Design Associates was selected to design the dining room, I knew I wanted to create a space that exemplified the beauty and elegance of days gone by yet also keep it fresh, new, warm and inviting—a space where a family could actually live today. The greatest challenge, as a designer, was to create a functional dining room while honoring its previous life as a library. Inspired by the idea of the du Pont’s entertaining guests for the weekend at their country estate (a scenario not unlike that which is seen in the fictional Downton Abbey), I designed a dining room for a more intimate, relaxed, less formal occasion. My intent was to show how elegance and formality could be juxtaposed with the more casual architecture of the room. I also wanted it to be a space where one might linger awhile with a book overlooking the beautiful gardens and fountain.
When the house was originally built, this fully paneled room was a library for the Bissell family that lived here, and the glass cabinet to the right of the fireplace housed their hunting rifles. The current owner covered the shelves with drywall and wallpapered them to convert the room to their formal dining room.
The demolition of the drywall covering the bookshelves began in July, not only restoring the room to its former glory but adding a foot of space to two walls. Next, the wood paneling was painted in Farrow and Ball’s “French Grey.” The lighter paint color and the satin finish allowed the beautiful detail of the millwork to appear.
Next, I had Venetian plaster in a creamy ivory and gold applied to the ceiling by a decorative painter creating a subtle sheen. The existing pink marble fireplace surround was also faux finished in a cream colored marble. The cabinet to the right of the fireplace was converted to a bar area complete with marble shelf and a library light fixture overhead.
A Stark wall covering with a hint of metallic gold was used to line the back of the cabinet and bookshelves and to complement the marble fireplace surround and ceiling. The varying textures, the color gold in the wallpaper, and the Venetian plastered ceiling was purposely intended to create warmth, reflect light, and brighten what was a very dark room. Custom antiqued mirrored glass was installed above the fireplace, and an antiqued mirrored screen stands in the corner where the bookshelves meet to further enhance the ambiance and create an old world feel.
The dining table finish is “ceruse” oak. Ceruse oak dates to the 1500s and is making a comeback in interior design. Defined as “white lead in-fill” the technique is used for exceptional highlighting of the wood grain. The table style, with its heavy, square-shaped legs, suggests a style that might be found in a country estate library. The dining chairs upholstered in coral linen damask add a splash of accent color. The drapery panels, comprised of a silk satin and linen, tone-on-tone stripe fabric, puddle to the floor to add luster and elegance. Leather-covered books line the shelves along with several framed photographs depicting life at Winterthur in the 1930s. The artwork loaned by the SommervilleManning Gallery also evokes old world charm. William O. Ewing, creator of the oil paintings shown in the room, is a renowned portrait and still life artist from the Chadds Ford area. The exquisite bronze sculpture, “Amazon Resting,” that sits on the windowsill was sculpted by Olivia Musgrave.
Finishing a room in a Decorator Showhouse takes the cooperation of many individuals with many talents. I would like to extend many thanks to the artists, tradespeople, and vendors who donated their services and furnishings so that my vision might be implemented.
The Decorator Showhouse is open now through November 3, 2013.
Tuesday – Saturdays, 10 am– 5pm; extended hours on Thursdays until 8 pm.
Sundays, 12 pm–5pm
Tickets can be purchased online or at the door for $30.
Don’t miss “Meet the Designers,” a special event on Thursday, October 17, 4–7 pm, where designers will be on hand to discuss their design process and highlight the special features in their rooms. Wine and cheese will be served.
Go to www.oxforddecoratorshowhouse.com for more information.
The Oxford Arts Alliance has partnered with Child Inc., Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, Delaware Children’s Theatre, and Wilmington Flower Market and will donate a portion of weekend ticket sales to these worthy organizations. Your support of this Showhouse, also provides financial sustainability of the Oxford Arts Alliance and its mission to “Cultivate Community Through Art.”
This blog was submitted by Sandy Brown, Principal, Winterthur Design Associates.
Did You Know?
Design Days is an opportunity to meet Sandy Brown, Winterthur’s professional interior designer at the Winterthur Museum Store in a one-on-one consultation for your home design challenges. Bring photos of the room you would like to address, fabrics, dimensions, or just questions and sit down with Sandy for her professional advice on room layouts, suggested furnishings, color schemes and overall style. October 17, 24, and 31.