“It’s the most wonderful time of the year, with the kids jingle belling, and everyone telling you, ‘be of good cheer.’ It’s the most wonderful time of the year, it’s the hap-happiest season of all, with those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings, when friends come to call, it’s the hap-happiest season of all.” Lyrics by Edward Pola and George Wyle
As the holiday lights start twinkling and the halls are decked with boughs of holly, Holiday Season 2015 is upon us. A time of celebration, a time of laughter and cheer, indeed a rather delightful season of merriment has arrived. This year, Upstater has a little more to cheer than per usual as Holiday Design House at the Loughran House opens to the public on Friday December 4, from 5-9 pm in conjunction with the Uptown Kingston Snowflake Festival, hosted annually by the Kingston Uptown Business Association. All week the historic Loughran House, on the grounds of the Senate House Museums properties, has been filled with a hustle and bustle as drapes have been hung, paintings installed, and boughs of every type have been draped. Laughter, camaraderie, and tales of design events of holidays past, have echoed throughout the first floor rooms of this Italianate Victorian structure. With a snap, crackle, and pop, the Loughran House has been transformed into the Holiday Design House. So let’s take a little pre-opening tour of Holiday Design House, chatting with the designers along the way.
In the entrance hall, the massive curving mahogany staircase has been transformed into a woodland wonderland fit for a partridge in a pear tree. Thanks to the talents of Linda Hopfenspirger of the Gilded Thistle Floral Design, draping bows of greenery, feathers, ribbons, wreaths and splashes of dried fruits adorn the graceful sweeping staircase. Throughout the week Linda, gold leaf brush in hand, has delicately enhanced her creation; “I never use spray paint or any of the quicker methods of painting fruits, nuts and dried vegetables. Instead I hand brush each one with silver or gold leaf.” Obviously the proof is in the pudding, as the staircase newel post is crowned by a rather dandified partridge in a pear tree, nestled for this holiday season amongst twigs, dried fruits and greenery.
The important caveat to retain as we make this journey from room to room is the designers were initially presented with the same restrictions: 1. The existing trim and wall colors in each room would remain “as is.” 2. Paintings, mirrors, etc. must be hung without the usage of nails in order to preserve the home’s pristine plaster walls—a seemingly easy task until one considers the interior trim color throughout the Loughran House is painted a dusty, slightly brownish mauve, a dominate color long banned from most interior designers palettes. Rather than bemoaning their fate, each designer (only slightly cringing), took this Achilles heel, utilizing the color as a backdrop to their designs.
For their design in the home’s parlor, Charles Farruggio and Michael Van Nort (of FRED in High Falls, NY) looked to the rooms exciting crown moldings and cornices as the inspiration of their design. “We loved the exotic nature of the moldings, therefore we decided to compliment and highlight them as we began sourcing fabrics and furnishings,” reflected Farruggio. The lime-green colored chinoiserie silhouetted pillow fabric and wallpaper utilized as holiday gift-wrapping paper featured in this room were generously donated by the manufacturer, Thibault. Farruggio continued, “we also wanted our room to have a graphic and modern sensibility. We approached Patterson Flynn Martin about borrowing the rug, while working with Duralee for the grey and white trellis patterned drapery fabric and eggplant colored brushed fringe.” Van Nort further described the room’s composition, “by layering patterns and textures, mixing contemporary art from the Wired Gallery and Cross Contemporary Art Gallery, accessorizing with ceramics by Bob Barry of Lucky Cat Studio, as well as mixing furniture styles, including a pair of Greek Key etageres from Global Views, vintage and new upholstery, along with a custom walnut top Saarinen table from our inventory at FRED, High Falls, we are paying homage to the eclecticism of Victorian design and decoration.”
If the Holiday Design House has had one patron angel this season it would be Jen Dragon of the Cross Contemporary Art Gallery (Saugerties, NY). Whether loaning pieces of art from her gallery’s repertoire of represented clients or assisting the designers with installation, Jen has been a marvel. Jen Dragon’s Cross Contemporary Art, in her own words, “is dedicated to showing mid-career artists who have a connection to the NYC, Hudson Valley and Catskill region. Many of the artists curated in this year’s Holiday Design Showcase such as Gregory Amenoff, Richard Bosman, Catherine Bowling, Susan Copich, Ford Crull, Catherine Howe, and Portia Munson are in noteworthy private, corporate and museum collections. Many of these artists are also distinguished recipients of art awards and public commissions. These painters, printmakers and photographers represent some of the best contemporary art in our world today.”
The Loughran’s former library is home to the handcrafted wooden 19th century wheel of the Hudson River’s famed Mary Powell paddleboat. Long fascinated by the Renaissance curiosity cabinet and collections of the Grand Tour, the wheel of the Mary Powell became the inspiration for this rooms design. To clarify the term, cabinet originally described a room rather than a piece of furniture. In Renaissance Europe through the Victorian Era, curiosity rooms featured collected objects from natural history, geology, archaeology, geology, ethnography, religious relics, works of art and antiquities; the perfect assemblage for a room dominated by an oversized wheel once powered by two men. Immediately I turned to Rebekah Milne of Milne’s At Home Antiques as my resource for this room’s design. Rebekah’s extensive inventory of Hudson River paintings, industrial pieces, architectural remnants, garden accessories, weathervanes, folk art and an array of diverse pieces were perfect for the creation of a curiosity room. Dominated by a Milne custom designed clock-face table, the room tales a story of travel and adventure. It’s ironic that collections which once took a lifetime to accumulate are all available within the confines of Milne’s At Home Antiques in Kingston, NY’s Roundout District.
Interior Designers John Krenek and Jamie Niblock (Spruce Decor + Design, Rhinebeck NY and its newest prodigy Exit Nineteen in Kingston NY’s Stockade District), rather than being handicapped by the Loughran House’s “dusty rose” historical colored trim, used the color as the inspiration of their room’s design. Krenek explains “However, instead of keeping with a traditional theme, we opted to take a journey around the world by mixing various periods and combining distinct pieces from our global travels.” Niblock added cheerfully, “the rug was hand selected in Marrakech, the love seats are by American Mid Century Designer Andrian Pearsall, and the various accessories were gathered up in Hong Kong and Paris. All these furnishings mixed together create a festive room ready to celebrate the holidays and ring in the New Year.”
Holiday Design House at the Loughran House is a celebration of the renaissance of design and retail commerce in Ulster County within the last few years. There are so many new design resources, shopping venues and galleries that did not exist that long ago. Design House underscores the vast changes within the area in the last year. Holiday Design House will open to the public on Friday December 4, 5-9 pm. Throughout the season, the Design House will be opened for fundraising events, private events and tours.
Save these dates!
Saturday December 5, 9-5 pm: The Community Based Fundraising Event to benefit the Junior League of Kingston’s Holly Berry Trail
Friday December 11th 6-8 pm: Design showcase fundraiser for the Friends of the Senate House ($25 per person)
Sunday December 13 4-6 pm: Meet the Designers (Invitation Only)