Design New England

Personal Style night at Dover Rug & Home


Jim Westphalen

A rustic kitchen project by Cushman Design Group (see Design New England‘s Northern Light March/April 2011) New England was shown by Milford Cushman to explain how he brings the personal style of his clients to his projects.

“Personal Style” is a challenging theme to tackle. Everyone has his or her own idea of what it means. At Design New England’s Design Salon, third of the fall series, at Dover Rug & Home in Natick, Massachusetts, our presenters offered guidance on how to achieve individuality while adhering to the principles of good design.


From left, the speakers included Milford Cushman, Doug Hanna, Judy O’Neil-Labins, and Mahmud Jafri.

They showed projects inspired by the mountains of Vermont, the far reaches of Iceland, fantasy castles, and ancient Pakistan. But at the heart of the conversation was the importance of developing trust between client and design professional in order to achieve the best, most individual results.
Designer Milford Cushman of Cushman Design Group in Stowe, Vermont, acknowledged that sometimes (as was the case when he designed his own house) it takes multiple redesigns to get things just right. From a hand-forged stove vent made to resemble a maple sugar cooking vat, to a children’s bathroom in which the sinks were milk buckets installed at different heights to accommodate kids of all ages, he showed how he brought his clients’ individuality into the design schemes he created.
Doug Hanna of S+H Construction in Cambridge, Massachusetts, took us to Iceland (kind of) with a case study of a home renovation in Cambridge. The house was completely transformed from a traditional saltbox design to what I can only describe with illustrious awe as a space ship. Hanna worked with his client to bring the sleek, modern, and totally non-New England elements from his homeland, Iceland, into every aspect of the design. No question, his personal style was front and center in polished motifs and a black and white color scheme.



Eric Roth

S+H Construction’s Icelandic abode includes this seriously sleek bath (see Design New England‘s Quoting Style January/February 2008).

It could not have been more different from the home of interior designer Judy O’Neil-Labins of Shafer O’Neil Interior Design in Wellesley, Massachusetts. In her not-so-big house, brightly colored painted floors (think Kelly green), open kitchen shelves for an ever-changing array of the pretty, the practical, and the whimsical, and a custom mural on a bedroom wall of a castle in a faraway time and place, her upbeat and romantic personality pervades every corner of her home. Still, she demonstrated with photos of a client’s home how a good designer creates spaces that reflect the personality of its occupant, who, in this case, wanted a more tailored look done in a palette of soft neutral tones.
Our gracious host, Mahmud Jafri of Dover Rug & Home delved into the fascinating stories revealed in the designs of his handcrafted rugs. With his years of experience and knowledge of the history and evolution of the rug industry, he offered insight into using their designs to convey a personal message.


From left, Robert and Mary Rose, the winners of the salon’s giveaway, one of Dover’s 100% wool, hand-knotted rugs, stand with host Mahmud Jafri.

All the presenters emphasized the value of teamwork among professionals and Jafri made an excellent point in answer to a question from the audience. Not matter what the scope of your project or budget, have a master plan. Start with what you love or need or can afford, but know that each piece you add will add to your vision of your ideal individual space. From architecture to building to interiors to rugs, there is nothing more personal than the lived-in home.
Next up, Lucia Lighting & Design Tuesday October 16. Register here:

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