It might have been called a microcosm of a show house, except for the expansive vision that was accomplished. The 2015 Designer Showcase this past spring unfolded not in a sprawling country estate — the more familiar scenario — but in Kim and Bryan Rosenberg’s second floor loft on Main Street in Hendersonville. Seven interior designers, together with contractor Sam Creech of Creech Solutions for Construction, transformed every sunny centimeter of the 2,500-square-foot space.
“I was delighted to have the opportunity to be involved in such a worthy team effort,” says Creech, who not only names the seven designers involved, but also those who helped with the meticulous restoration of the 100-plus-year-old building. These included Jerry Stewart of Flooring America (Hendersonville), John Motes of Stone Connection, and Don Caldwell, whose expertise as a historic masonry contractor was needed to deal with a tricky structural wall.
“Special effort was made to research and incorporate proper restoration methods and materials,” notes Creech. “I have never seen so much combined talent under one roof.”
The event (held April 18-May 2) was a fundraiser and an awareness-raiser for Hendersonville’s Downtown Façade Grant Program, an ongoing restoration project that injects vitality into the transitioning Main Streets of America’s picturesque small cities. As Downtown Development Director Lew Holloway told Carolina Home + Garden, “There’s a whole other dimension of Hendersonville we want to highlight — the creative residential side.”
“Bryan and I are thrilled with the final result,” says Kim Rosenberg. “We were impressed with how well everyone collaborated on the project. Even with seven different designers, we have a beautiful new space that has continuity and flows very well. It really is a testament to our general contractor, the designers, and the vendors, who all worked so well together.”
The living is large in this vibrant twofold space. In the library, designer Warren Fluharty punched up a smooth palette with artwork that is bold, complementary, and meant to fire-start conversations — including a resplendent piece by Asheville painter S. Tucker Cooke.
In the living room, on the other hand, it was three restrained giclée prints that inspired the rest of the scheme. “The beautiful original brick wall needed silver and white canvases to set it off,” explains Fluharty, “and also gray and white to float on the antique floors.” In fact, the whole concept of “floating” informed the living room: this effect, says the designer, makes the space a “backdrop for guests and entertainment.” Zebra-print chairs (custom designed by Bernhardt Furniture Co., who also did the room’s minimalist cocktail table) flank a 10-foot banquette-style Italian sofa, covered by Fluharty in a deep, grounding gray.
The table’s Shagreen (untanned leather) surface rides well with the swath of rawhide beneath it; the inventive rug, stenciled with more zebra, “added just the splash I wanted for that area,” says Fluharty. Back in the library, stout leather club chairs by John-Richard, a Lillian August cocktail table, and a textured gray rug outline the scene. Lalique crystal sparkles on the shelves, uniting hardcover design books with leather-bound classics. Ultimately, though, two Fluharty-centric accent pieces — a large globe and a fantastically fun spherical chandelier — top off the vibe, adding a blaze of world-expo glamour.
With all the brick, hardwoods, and pipes in the loft’s wide-open floor plan, a flinty-chic palette would be the tempting default. But Cheryl Smith Associates buried that notion in a flood of real color and deeply inspired creative elements. Smith and her crew designed what she calls “asymmetrical stylized lambrequins” in a printed teal fabric.
The brilliant valances are edgy but friendly: a burst of artful optimism. Near the windows, a handmade tableau is framed by scavenged barn wood and features silverware from Village Antiques arranged on ceramic tiles (donated by Artistic Tile). A pastoral oil painting by Ed Fadool complements the hues of the lambrequins, and a contemporary burl-wood table is surrounded by woven-seat chairs and crowned by a custom glass chandelier from Splurge by Robert Nicholas. (Smith reveals that the chandelier’s C-shaped pendants were originally used at the Trump Towers.)
In fact, must-have pieces one-up each other all over the space, overriding the initial vibe of skilled restraint. Blacksmith Todd R. Miller of Screaming Hot Iron designed the console tables using more than 6,000 cat’s-eye marbles. “They’re backlit to add drama,” notes Smith (as though theatricality wasn’t already the high note here). The tables’ Calacatta Borghini granite tops were provided by Mountain Marble, and the organic Turkish-wool rug came from Togar Rugs. Perhaps mindful of how central the dining hub has become in contemporary home design, the firm made an eating space yummy enough to live in.
Proving the crucial alliance between contractor and designer, Sam Creech of Creech Solutions for Construction reveals that the 1,200-pound granite-slab island top (from Stone Connection) had to be crane-lifted into the kitchen, after the entryway proved too small.
“It’s huge,” acknowledges designer Ashley Smith of Benson & Babb Interiors, who created the kitchen with his business partner Lynn Brookshire. He says they envisioned the geometric island as “an anchor, a centerpiece. It’s a place where the owners can be in the kitchen but still have plenty of guests gathered around.”
The all-important space features rustic-birch cabinetry from Aristokraft that picks up the darker colors in the exposed-brick back walls. That choice is further enhanced with a farmhouse sink and insets of reclaimed barn wood on the island, which also features a wine refrigerator (the Fisher & Paykel appliances came from Blue Ridge Appliance & Hearth; fixtures and plumbing are by Hajoca).
By nature, kitchens have to be practical. But Smith and Brookshire paid homage to the loft’s vintage-industrial milieu in unexpected accents, including a gutsy chandelier (Curry & Co.) and weathered-look stools from Stanley Furniture (all sourced through Benson & Babb).
Referring to the home’s former ’70s-style kitchen, Smith says, “I don’t need to tell you it was past time to make a change.” The new, post-contemporary look was enough to render viewers temporarily speechless.
Master Suite #1
Dawn Driskill (ASID, IFDA) of Decor8 admits that transforming the all-important street-front master suite was “a challenge.” The bedroom space was worn, the bathroom “long and awkward.” But ultimately, she says, the journey was a “wonderful experience.”
Working with Creech Solutions for Construction, Driskill and her business partner Barbara Biron had the doorway and walls moved to enlarge the bath. “This allowed us to add a large shower with a barrel ceiling,” she explains. A majestic vanity with his-and-her sinks, a clawfoot tub, and a subway-tile floor make a sophisticated flourish against the brick walls.
The newly open area made the bedroom that much smaller, but by getting rid of old shutters and needless upper cabinetry, Driskill and her team were able to free that space, as well, incorporating an element of upscale rusticity in keeping with the building’s period and style.
Important accents include luxurious but understated drapery, a soft viscose rug, and an elegant chandelier in the bedroom — plus woven shades in both rooms. A custom upholstered headboard and matching chair exude sophistication in taupe. The bedroom neutrals are reserved and handsome against the brick wall and the wood floor, allowing the panorama of Main Street to take center stage.
Master Suite #2
Harrietta “Harry” Deaton of Harry Deaton Interiors, Inc., carried an ace in the pocket when transforming her complex triplet of rooms (the rear master suite, encompassing bedroom, dressing room, and small bath): the Rosenbergs are already her clients — “so I had a feel and knowledge of their taste,” she explains. For all their customers, though, the Deatons’ stamp is their posh library of fabrics (Husband Joe is the artisan who makes the firm’s custom work).
Set against the home’s rustic, exposed brick walls, Harry imposed a scheme of soft grays and silvers, including Deaton-designed turquoise drapery, bed skirt, and houndstooth throw pillows. The lushness is a perfect sensory match with French Country-esque, medallion-draped chandeliers and a variety of Thibaut wall coverings in the chosen palette, including a silver-leopard pattern in the dressing room. (The chosen carpeting is a slightly earthier gray-and-cream pattern.) Harry conjured some oversized magic for the challenging small bathroom, a couple unique splashes of grandeur: an ornate mirror of Venetian glass above the vanity and a section of 19th-century iron fencing that culturally deepens the wall. “To make the space feel larger,” she reveals, “I used sea-glass-and-pebble flooring … and the 8 by 16 high-gloss wall tiles complete the elegant look.” (All tile and flooring came from Flooring America; the smart, streamlined fixtures are from Hajoca.)
The dressing room, says the designer, “was a first for me.” The romantic niche swims in efficient tiers of sophisticated comfort, down to a silver fabric chair and a small mirrored table, a lamp with a hand-painted shade, a floor-length mirror leaning against the brick, and closet shelves filled with purses, shoes, and scarves.
Back in the boudoir, a neutral, plush duvet cover on the understated iron bed plays nice with a furry hoofed ottoman (all of Deaton’s “wow” pieces tend to display such playful vibrancy). Even the drawers of the leather dresser are curved, capping the sweet hush.
No matter how grand the square footage or how high the ceilings, a loft apartment is essentially one “room” — and thus tricking out the available niches becomes an exercise in imaginative diversity. Taking nothing for granted, multidiscipline artist/designer/builder Scott Keels (Scott Keels Design) turned what he calls a “very dark and worn” entryway and stair hall into a tranquil welcome area.
“This space serves both the office and residential levels,” explains Keels, “so I tried to unify it with similar colors and materials, and used more durable flooring than [what was there] before” (his choices included tile and striped-neutral carpeting, both from Flooring America). The designer made a brilliant move of repurposed chic, using a maple countertop from the loft’s old kitchen to create both a geometric sculptural installation and a bench. “The installation gives visual interest to this space, and helps enlarge it by the use of random inset mirrors. The bench caps and helps minimize the building foundation.”
Paintings from Art Mob, and by Keels himself, reference the outdoors — a maneuver meant to open an area he describes as having “minimal natural light.” The blue-ribbon showpiece is an über-contemporary railing by blacksmith Todd R. Miller. Wavy iron strips of different lengths soften the space’s industrial geometry, creating further flow.
The loft doesn’t have a balcony, so bringing the outdoors in required an unusually ambitious vision. A skylit solarium centralizes the home in sun-drenched radiance.
“The concept was to have the sense of a fun, relaxing patio/backyard space indoors,” explains the room’s designer, Mary Jane Grigsby (FASID, NCIDQ, LEED AP) of Adesso Interior Design. For the room’s top attraction, Grigsby chose a dramatic, fluid porch swing of Honduran mahogany from the outdoor collection of furniture maker Brian Boggs, an Asheville-based designer of world renown. (A bench and an outdoor game table are also from the Boggs line.)
Sharp whimsy is everywhere, including a hot-air-balloon piece, a duo of sly painted owls roosting in an overhead beam, and some memorable metal garden sculpture: a troop of oversized garden ants powering across the “deck” floor, and a kinetic Wild Birds Unlimited fountain featuring a pair of insatiably thirsty crows. A painting on the exposed-brick wall gives the impression of a tile mosaic, but not all is sleight-of-hand: live, lush plants from Raymond’s Nursery ground the “outdoor” room in the earthy here-and-now.
“In essence,” says Grigsby, “the space fools the senses into thinking you are outdoors. How nice to go out to the patio and read the morning paper … or have a glass of wine in the evening and watch the sun go down.” (Without mosquitoes: bonus!)