With the coming of spring, so comes the annual International Dream Room contest sponsored by Interiors by Decorating Den, Montgomery Village, MD, to honor its assembly of more than 500 franchises and decorators and their accomplishments over the past year.
As this article was being written, decorator Rebecca Shearn was
being honored in Dallas, TX, as the 2003 Decorator of the Year at
its annual conference. Earlier in the past year, lucky Shearn received
a commission to renovate a 100-year-old mansion and entered several
redecorated rooms into the company’s annual competition. While
she actually took prizes in several categories, she won the title
for her kitchen entry. But more on that later.
As one of the judges for this year’s competition, I was asked
to review a multitude of design boards all displaying before-and-after
photographs of client rooms, read a short design challenge essay
on each, as well as examine memos of wall coverings, fabrics, paint
and more. This assignment can easily eat up an afternoon, as the
entries are all so comprehensive, delightfully unique and, well—plentiful!
While judging and selecting the top three rooms in each category,
I made note of trends. Here’s what I saw:
While the economy may be in the can, the master bedrooms in this
year’s competition showed no evidence of financial upheaval!
In the master bedroom, clients wanted the excesses of the ’80s
to rule! Hello “Dynasty” and Ivana Trump!
Deeply textured embroidered silks for bedspreads and table covers,
dripping in passementerie, padded headboards on commanding beds
and large prints in soothing olive, taupe, sea foam, beige, dramatic
purple and rust were popular. Window treatments of sumptuous swags
and cornices occupied a regal place.
In this room, decorated by Kris Miller, Austin, TX, her client’s
goal was to enjoy a master bedroom that served as a serene retreat;
a haven inspiring renewal at the end of each busy day. Amazingly,
this bedroom’s size provided much of the challenge—at
only 11 by 12 feet, Miller was forced to create a sense of luxury
through the design, rather than through a grand use of space.
In the lovely cornices, Miller created an architectural focal point,
mounting them as high as possible until the iron frieze topper touched
the ceiling. Mist colored drapery panels cascade behind like a waterfall
and elegant Austrian shades accent the boards with fold after fold
of glorious silk. Plenty of appealing passementerie, soft chenille
and, of course, silk and more silk add to the over-the-top panache.
Always a difficult room to photograph due to those pesky sinks and
toilets, the bathrooms entered in the contest stood out handsomely.
Gone are the seashell motifs and watercolors. In are feathers, trims,
embroidered sheers, shimmer, bold mosaic patterns, stripes and masculine
browns, mushrooms, rust and gold. A dramatic overhaul!
This is bathroom as escape—a lovely way to take outdated colors
and turn a tired space into an exciting sanctuary. Designer Michelle
Gilbertson, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, added stimulating curves
with a new vanity, rich colors and soft lighting to meet her clients’
Vertical stripes in the wall coverings helped to create an illusion
of height; subtle colors and patterns opened up the space rather
than cluttered it. Mushroom colored draperies and satin nickel fixtures
were the finishing touch.
The obvious proliferation of built-in cabinets and countertops make
this a difficult room to decorate in many ways, but this year’s
decorators used their imaginations to come up with exciting new
In fabric treatments, swags and top treatment combos led the way
coupled with larger patterns in wall coverings—primarily fruit
(grapes, peaches) and floral motifs. Colors that stood out were
green, beige, purple and sunny yellow.
Cabinet colors hit three color schemes: either dark red, light maple—or
In this award-winning design, West Chester, Ohio’s Shearn’s
quest was to open up the space and configure a variety of work areas
so when family gatherings were unfolding, no one would bump into
anyone else. Plus, being the heart of the home and center of activity,
the decoration was of utmost importance.
Ceilings were painted in a pale straw tone and the walls faux painted
in a gold basket weave design. Roman valances of green and coral
paisley added softness to the windows and match the shades in the
nearby family room. This simple, clean, warm, comforting and welcoming
space is as beautiful as it is functional. A true winner!
In the Home Office category, padded cornices in dainty, feminine
purple and rose floral were competing against dramatic testosterone-filled
rooms of deep mahogany, dark browns and blacks along with claret.
Things of nature—bees, dragonflies, African animals and even
a lovely map of the world on the ceiling—stood out, as well
as wicker and reed furniture and the ever-popular pineapple motif.
A multi-functional space: a home office first and a guest bedroom
second was of utmost priority to decorator Sharon Binkerd’s
clients. Making certain Binkerd, Fort Lauderdale, FL, incorporated
the client’s love for Sanibel Island was also of great importance.
Walking into a white, boxy room, Binkerd’s first thought was
to use the color palette provided by some tropical artwork her client
had purchased on her favorite island getaway. The walls were glazed
a dark burgundy, allowing wonderful contrast for artwork and furniture.
A variety of textures—leather, bamboo, wood blinds and tropical
fabric—created interest. Task lighting, coupled with lighting
strictly for ambiance, completed the deal.
What stimulates the appetite more than red? Like a cape waved at
a bull, these rooms grabbed the judges by the throats—and stomachs!
Sumptuous draperies belied the ’80s excesses yet again: portieres,
tassels and trims, tapestries, a few animal prints (not many!) were
seen, but more so were smaller, less bold prints, tapestry and color
schemes ranging from pinky rust, beige, gold and green to dark rust,
red and black.
Wanting to create a dramatic first impression when entertaining,
interior decorator Lisa Landry, Arlington, TX, was called upon to
utilize a formal living and dining space in the best way possible.
This meant creating a functional space, one that combined both rooms
into one area for entertaining.
The formal living room was too small to accommodate a lot of furniture;
the dining room could seat perhaps eight people tops. Thus, combining
the two rooms and using a table to seat 16, Landry created a cafe
from across the border theme, playing up the popular rooster red
paint on the walls, wrought iron chandeliers, adobe art and cafe
chairs. Black chair frames and rush seats complete the look.
FAMILY ROOM/GREAT ROOM
Fireplaces galore united with over-scaled Palladian and arch windows
were paired with smaller patterns touting checks, isolated dot patterns
and stripes. While some animal prints were present, they were used
Cornices and stationery treatments dressed the windows in olive,
beige, honey, army green coupled with rust, teal and royal blue,
black and gold.
Decorator Beverly Barrett, Beavercreek, OH, was asked to use purple,
green and yellow when designing her client’s new family room.
Their goal: a warm, casual atmosphere with lots of color, paired
with light wood. Additionally, they wanted wall covering and chair
railing with a final goal of a purple leather sofa!
A truly wonderful room rose from the ashes (this home had been rebuilt
after a fire), including colorful treatments adorning seven windows
designed to keep the view open and allow for plenty of natural light
during the day, but privacy at night; his and her retreats in opposite
corners of the room; and a wonderful grape-colored sofa and loveseat
to anchor the room.
WINDOW TREATMENT CATEGORY
For me, this was a tremendous feast for the eyes—the unique
quality of the window treatments in this category made it a pleasure
to judge. Past years have not seen such a strong showing as this
year—which bodes well for the continued trend of fabric at
Crown molding, tassel fringe, pinch pleats, bump lined draperies,
Roman shades, Italian stringing—you name it, it was probably
on display in this category.
It is the unique bodice shirring of the top treatments that caught
this judge’s eye, and indeed, Joanne Watson’s design challenge
dictated that her client wished for simple window treatments with
a feminine feel. Quite lovely!
By creating a flowing valance, Watson, of Oakville, Ontario, Canada,
was able to soften a large wall space and bring balance to the window
and door height in a classic floral check and plaid from Waverly.
Kathleen Stoehr is president of Chemistry Creative, based in Minneapolis,
MN. She has more than eight years’ experience covering trends,
window treatments and interior fashions, and is a former editor-in-chief
of Window Fashions magazine. Stoehr can be contacted for comments,
queries and trend information at kstoehr@chemistrycreative.