This is where charm meets change.
The Gaffney house, one of the architectural grand dames of northwest Akron, has undergone a modern-day makeover as the site of Designer ShowHouse 2013. Professional decorators have revamped a six-bedroom Tudor Revival home for the Junior League of Akron fundraiser, which opens for public tours starting today.
The gracious character of the 1933 home has been left untouched, but the house has a new vibrancy and, in some cases, updated functionality. From the basement wine bar to the second-floor media room, it’s a house designed to accommodate both elegant entertaining and casual family life.
The house had been the home since 1995 of Dorothy Gaffney and her late husband, Ed, owner of the air handling equipment manufacturer Air Enterprises Inc. Dorothy Gaffney has moved out and put the house on the market, but for the time being it’s in the hands of the Junior League of Akron.
The organization contracted with individual designers or design teams, each of which made over a room or other space in the house. The result is an eclectic mix, yet the spaces complement one another.
“They’re all on trend,” event co-chair Janis Worley said of the designers, noting that elements such as metallics and pops of orange showed up in many of their rooms. “So it all ends up working.”
Visitors are greeted by the work of artist and decorator Bruce Stebner, who designed the foyer, staircase and second-floor landing. Stebner said he aimed for “an ancestral sort of look,” painting faux pediments over the doorways and furnishing the spaces with pieces he had painted and distressed.
His paintings line the walls, mostly scenes of France but also local spots such as Fairlawn Heights and the Cuyahoga River. He turned a window on the landing into a focal point by topping it with a wood bonnet salvaged from an old cupboard and draping it with a linen widow treatment tied with plain rope.
To one side of the foyer is the living room, which Amy Douglass and Katie Heinz of Interior Design Studio in Medina decorated with elements from the showrooms in Beachwood’s Ohio Design Centre. The designers divided the long room into two seating areas, separated by an ornate library table.
On one end, a sofa and armchairs are pulled close to the fireplace, to which the designers drew attention by covering the fireplace wall with a cork wallpaper with metallic accents. Brushed stainless steel planters filled with curly branches are positioned in front of the windows flanking, taking the place of window treatments.
At the other end of the room, another sofa and a divan face each other, providing a place for chatting or reading — or napping, Douglass joked. A pale blue-gray covers the walls, and drapery panels between the sections of the bay window provide softness without blocking light.
On the opposite side of the foyer, the dining room was given sparkle by designer Robin Brechbuhler. She added bling with gold accents and lots or crystals, which she hung from a fireplace screen and incorporated in a chandelier that gets an updated look from its elongated shape and translucent shade. The dining table is set with place mats molded into a ruffled form, layered with crystal chargers and gold-banded dinnerware for added dazzle.
In the library, Jones Group Interiors transformed a masculine space into a feminine retreat. A sofa and soft chairs gather around a mirrored coffee table topped with glass accents, which glitter in the light of an overhead chandelier made from bare, vintage-looking light bulbs suspended from cords. A round table set for tea tops an artificial turf rug in a bay window, and original oil paintings by Frederick McDuff hang on the wall near a photo of former first lady Nancy Reagan with her own McDuff painting.
Near the library is a dressing room that Denise Liszka and Sal Messina of Kolour Kraft Painting of Ohio decked out with the glamour of old Hollywood.
They covered the walls in a striated paint treatment that looks like wallpaper and accented them with oversized damask designs borrowed from the framed fabric panels lining the bathtub walls. Liszka’s handiwork decorates the space in the form of a fainting couch she reupholstered in mock-crocodile velvet and a faux stained glass panel she created by backing a piece of wrought-iron screen with glass and decorating it with paint, crystals, beads and bits of broken, colored glass.
Designer Dan West lightened up the heavy woodwork of the family room with a touch of midcentury modern design, covering a Chesterfield sofa in purple velvet and painting the fireplace a punchy orange. Draperies that had closed in the space made way for tall screens upholstered in white linen, which West said are intended to keep the room light and fresh.
He divided the room into two zones, setting up one for TV viewing and positioning a spacious Jacobean desk and contemporary bench in the other. A collection of mirrors is propped on the mantel, reflecting the light from an updated version of a medieval chandelier.
Designer Linda Russell gave a cheerful, romantic look to the breakfast room, decorating it in garden motifs that relate to the patio it overlooks. She dressed a round table in vivid colors, surrounded it with chairs with chunky rattan backs and hung a lipstick-red carousel lantern overhead. She even made space for a pet by creating a covered dog bed in one corner, decorated with a picture of her own Sheltie, Spencer.
The basement got a contemporary update from the designers at Garth Andrew Co., who used a wine theme for the space. They created a tasting area out of an alcove, complete with a bar made from a slab of walnut and a mural of a winery, and they disguised waterproofing on a wall in the seating area by hanging a decorative curtain over its entire length. Wine bottles holding taper candles fill the fireplace opening, and a grouping of glass balls hung on a wall create the look of bubbles.
On the second floor, designer Cynthia Whitford turned what was once the home’s master bedroom into a media room designed for comfort and ease of use. Wireless technology allows the lights, the wall-mounted TV, the Blu-ray player and even a wall-hung electric fireplace to be controlled from an iPad.
Whitford covered the sectional sofa in a sturdy, commercial-grade fabric that can stand up to a family’s demands and painted the walls in a flat taupe paint that cuts down on glare. The walls are decorated with movie posters and photos from popular films, and the fireplace wall is covered with a Venetian plaster with a marble-like gleam.
Another bedroom was turned into a teen girl’s retreat by Elaine Woods and Karen Carpenter of Chez-Del. The two aimed for a whimsical look without excessive expense, choosing neutral furniture that could grow with the occupant and using inexpensive accents to bring in color and playfulness.
Three wall-hung pin boards are covered with playful fabrics, and colorful throw pillows decorate the bed. The ceiling was painted in a bronzy paint that glows at night, and the oak floor was given a gray wash that neutralized its orangy color while still letting the wood grain show through.
The room’s gotta-have-it feature is a 6-foot tall jewelry case that’s more like a jewelry closet. Closed, it looks like a full-length mirror; opened, it has space for all the jewelry a teenager could amass.
Even the tiniest rooms got designers’ attention. Designer John Antro played up the vintage features of a small first-floor bathroom by skirting the original sink in a men’s suiting material to disguise the metal supports, restoring the old medicine cabinet and creating a vignette on a deep windowsill, which he highlighted with a new halogen spotlight. Allison Perley-Harter of Perley Gates Art & Design decorated a tiny guest bath in a Moroccan theme, complete with beaded window treatments and a deep purple, metallic plaster on the walls.
Perhaps the ShowHouse’s most unusual room is the bedroom decorated by Goodwill Industries. Heather Hydel, manager of the Medina Goodwill store, led a decorating team that transformed the room with items gathered from the organization’s retail stores.
Using the homeowners’ existing armoire as a starting point “because we really didn’t want to move it,” Hydel and her team created a room with the feel of old Havana. They asked all the stores to submit photos of items that might fit the theme, then pulled together vintage furniture and appropriate accessories, right down to the cigar boxes on the lower shelf of an accent table.
They called on their creativity, too, recovering a bench with a fabric shower curtain and creating window treatments from king-size pillowcases.
Even the candles came from a Goodwill store, Hydel said. “You just never know what you’re going to find.”
Other areas decorated in the house were a wet bar outfitted by Reeder Architects, a master-suite bathroom and hallway decorated by Hazel Tree Interiors and the Final Coat, a second-floor bath decorated by Suzanne M. Harvey Designs and a bedroom created by Cottage Draperies and Interiors. Instead of remodeling the kitchen, Freedom Design Kitchen & Bath created a concept for the room and displayed drawings and sample materials.
Outdoors, the brick patio was decorated with multiple seating areas and tall fiberglass planters with the look of zinc by Donzell’s Flower and Garden Center. Zach Goebelt of Complete Outdoor Installation created a stacked-rock fountain in the backyard and a low stone wall in the front that plays off the sun-ray design over the front door.
The show house is open on designated days through May 19 at 657 Ridgecrest Road, Akron.
Mary Beth Breckenridge can be reached at 330-996-3756 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also become a fan on Facebook at http://tinyurl.com/mbbreck, follow her on Twitter @MBBreckenridge and read her blog at www.ohio.com/blogs/mary-beth.