Design New England

New England Designers Help Raise Money for Breast Cancer Research

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A 1921 mansion on Manhattan’s Upper East Side was the setting for Holiday House NYC, where Newport, Rhode Island, designer Ally Coulter created “A Roman Holiday” theme in the living room, which features a barrel-vaulted ceiling, paneled walls, and a stone fireplace. Coulter brought in sumptuous furnishings and evocative paintings. Photo: Alan Barry Photography.

By Jill Connors

The numbers are in and the 2014 year-end show house in New York City known as Holiday House NYC — with rooms decorated by top designers, including two New England firms — raised more than $200,000 for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. “Not only did we have a glamorous setting, but we were able to help with this great cause,” says Ally Coulter of Ally Coulter Designs in Newport, Rhode Island, who designed the living room for the fundraiser.


The setting was The Academy Mansion on East 63rd Street, a four-story, 1921 limestone building across from Central Park on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Breast cancer survivor Iris Dankner, a New York interior designer, founded Holiday House Design Show in 2008, as a “celebration of life, with each designer selecting a holiday or a special moment in life as an inspiration for their design.”

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A mirrored coffee table in Ally Coulter’s “A Roman Holiday” room reflects the ceiling and mantel. Robert Farber’s photograph, “Dreaming” rests atop the mantel, and a gilt-framed Baroque painting leans against the paneled wall. Photo: Alan Barry Photography.

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An antique marble-topped console table serves as an elegant bar in Ally Coulter’s “A Roman Holiday” room. Books and a gilt-framed painting adorn a console table on an adjacent wall. Photo: Alan Barry Photography.
Coulter, who has designed rooms for the Holiday House for several years, created “A Roman Holiday” in the mansion’s living room, inspired by the expansive and curvaceous space, which features a barrel-vaulted plaster ceiling with gilded ornamentation, paneled walls, and a carved stone fireplace. Inspired by the quote, “Nothing happens unless first a dream,” from a Carl Sandberg poem written a year after the mansion was built, Coulter injected her own brand of exuberant decoration, bringing in sumptuous Italian Baroque paintings, black leather sofas, a zebra-print throw, a grand piano, and even a shiny red Vespa ready to scoot out the glass door to the courtyard. Above the stone mantel, she hung an evocative contemporary photograph called “Dreaming,” by Robert Farber . “I love the scale and architecture of this room,” says Coulter, “and wanted to evoke the passion of the Italian Baroque era.” She brought in works from FENDI Casa, Newel Antiques, and Dakota Jackson.
Boston designer Gary McBournie created a “Caribbean Island Holiday,” turning his showhouse room into a buoyantly colored tent. “The overall inspiration was to evoke a tropical holiday a la Princess Margaret in Mustique, or a fabulous cabana on the beach,” says Bill Richards, chief marketing officer for Gary McBournie Inc. The room was literally tented using hundreds of yards of McBournie’s exclusive “Tides Stripe” cotton in “Lagoon” colorway for Antilles Designs. Adding to the island look were a jute rug by Merida and Gary McBournie Home sofas upholstered in white Glant fabric.

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Striped fabric installed as a tent creates a vibrant beach cabana look in “Caribbean Island Holiday,” a room by Boston designer Gary McBournie at Holiday House NYC. A jute rug by Merida and bamboo etageres from S. Julian add to the island theme. Photo: Alan Barry Photography.

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A teak sideboard anchors a wall of Gary McBournie’s room, where a brilliant focal point is the abstract painting by Michael Rich entitled “Of Song and Blossom.” Photo: Alan Barry Photography.
The story behind the Antilles Designs fabric is a colorful one. The inspiration for the fabric line came from McBournie’s senior designer Lee Harrington, whose father lived on Antigua and designed island-inspired clothing in the 1960s. The line of fabric was introduced last year, and Richards reports that they will be adding outdoor fabric to the line as soon as this spring.

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Sofas by Gary McBournie Home are covered in crisp white fabric with vivid accent pillows; all lampshades are from Blanche Field of Boston. Photo: Alan Barry Photography.

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The Gary McBournie for Antilles Designs collection of Antigua-inspired fabrics will soon be available in outdoor fabric.
Speaking of spring (and who doesn’t want to, given this wretched winter?), the Breast Cancer Research Foundation’s Boston Hot Pink Party is set for May 14 at 6 p.m. at the Seaport World Trade Center. This is the 10th anniversary of Boston’s Hot Pink Party, and event leaders include Dee and Tommy Hilfiger. The fundraiser includes the presentation of the annual Humanitarian Award. According to the foundation, more than $53 million in grants have been awarded to New England scientists since the first round of grants in 1994.
Great design is always at your fingertips! Read Design New England‘s January/February 2015 issue online!

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