From the October/November 2015 Issue:

The Cape May Designer Show House

Show houses provide major fund-raising power to charitable organizations and also give designers a chance to demonstrate their skills untethered—mostly—from the demands of a homeowner. Here we present examples from the Stately Homes by-the-Sea Designer Show House in Rumson, the Cape May Designer Show House and the Designer Show House of New Jersey.

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enlarge | Glittering light from a rewired antique chandelier invites visitors into the home’s original parlor. Features include a wing chair in the far corner, a hammered gold spoke table in front of the fireplace and small tables that Rowan covered with gold vinyl and trimmed with nail heads in the foreground.
The 9th Annual Cape May Designer Show House featured rooms designed around certain holidays. Proceeds from the show house, which attracted visitors from October 2014 through this June, benefit the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities ( We present two richly colored examples: “The Solstice Salon” designed by Viviane Rowan and “A Mother’s Day Has No End …” designed by Janis Schmidt of Dragonfly Interiors.

Formal Parlor

WRITER Janet Purcell
DESIGNER Viviane Rowan Design

It was the room’s original fireplace and tall windows that drew interior designer Viviane Rowan to what became The Solstice Salon. “It was a holiday show house and the idea of the winter solstice and the shorter, dark days inspired my color and fabric choices,” says Rowan, an allied member of the American Society of Interior Designers and owner of Viviane Rowan Design and the store White by Viviane Rowan Design in Cape May.

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enlarge | The reflected glow from the wallpapered ceiling falls on a maize wool rug. Aged bronze silk panels falling from English walnut rods and rings frame light streaming in through tall windows.
The result: deep cobalt walls, sparkling white moldings and a glistening gold textured paper to cover the ceiling so it would cast a warm glow during the dark days of winter. An antique chandelier found when Rowan redecorated Cape May’s historic Peter Shields Inn is the room’s sparkling centerpiece. “It was in sorry shape so I had it rewired and found matching crystals for the ones missing,” she says.

A mirror embedded in ruffled gold metal above the mantel reflects the light, and a glass-topped, aged-gold spoke table holding gold-trimmed vases continues the journey.

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enlarge | Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night inspired artist Marty Santry’s dramatic painting displayed above a custom console covered in gold on cream fabric, adding points of light against the cobalt walls.
Rowen commissioned artist Marty Santry to create a wide horizontal painting to hang above a sofa table that she had covered in fabric. “I gave Marty the fabrics, paint color and ceiling wallpaper and told him the theme of the room. We discussed Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night as a concept and specified a size. We also decided I would not see the finished painting until the day of installation. It’s perfect!”

In the show house brochure, Rowan encourages visitors to “Take a moment to wonder at the sea and the stars and the comforting dependability of the planet we inhabit.” She adds, “The Solstice Salon expounds on the feeling of peace in the place where time stands still for the moment before circling back.” The cobalt walls capture the sense of night while the touches of dancing light speak of the dependability of the planet.

SOURCES interior design, small tables and accessories, Viviane Rowan Design in Cape May; painting, Marty Santry in West Cape May; chandelier refurbishing, Olde Delights (now closed) in Cape May; wing chair, sofa table and ceiling wallpaper, Kravet in Bethpage, New York; mirror, Uttermost in Rocky Mount, Virginia; spoke table, Worlds Away in Memphis; ottomans, side table, rug and concrete vases, Global Views in Dallas; draperies, rods and rings, Dompierre’s Draperies & More in Marmora.

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enlarge | Designer Janis Schmidt chose a striking combination of purples and browns when creating a relaxing retreat to celebrate Mother’s Day.

WRITER Marirose Krall
DESIGNER Dragonfly Interiors

One thing women always express to me is that they love purple,” says Janis Schmidt, a member of the Interior Design Society, principal of Dragonfly Interiors in Cape May and designer of a bedroom saluting Mother’s Day for the show house. Even so, she notes, “they’re terrified of using it in a room.” Schmidt took that conundrum to heart when designing this space. “I thought I would show you don’t have to be afraid of purple.”

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enlarge | Three painted botanicals join the real thing, adding interest in a corner opposite the wing chair.
Working around the existing industrial-grade brown carpet, Schmidt added purple to create an aesthetically appealing space. She began by combing through textiles. Almost 100% o the time I take my inspiration from fabric, she says. A lavender and brown fabric just jumped out. That material plays a starring role in this space, hung from the ceiling and drawn back to reveal the bed and also bordering a complementary striped fabric used floor to ceiling as a headboard.

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enlarge | The show-stopping chandelier is set against walls hand painted to resemble grass cloth. The designer’s signature dragonflies make an appearance in the glass bowl displayed on the table.
The drama continues across the room with an amethyst-hued chandelier set in a cozy corner above a table and wing chair. “I thought it would be spectacular,” Schmidt says. The combination is feminine and exuberant as well as strong and stately. The scene is complemented by the “tree branch” legs of the table under the chandelier and the curved lamp bases on the bedside tables.

Schmidt credits her transcendent design of the room to attention to detail. “When you walk into a room and say, ‘This is beautiful’ but you’re not sure what you like about it, it’s all of the little components. Every little thing matters.”

SOURCES interior design, art and accessories, Dragonfly Interiors in Cape May; bedding, headboard, window treatments and throw pillows, designed by Dragonfly Interiors and fabricated by Custom Window by Robert A. Kline in West Berlin; walls, custom Benjamin Moore; decorative painting, Mary Dima of Daroo Designs in Bluebell, Pennsylvania; lamps and table under window, Uttermost in Rocky Mount, Virginia; bedside tables, Soft Surroundings; chandelier, Cyan Design/Bliss Home & Design in Costa Mesa, California.