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When Kevin Sharkey -- Martha Stewart Living's editorial director of decorating -- first laid eyes on the room, his instincts led him to his professional roots at Parish-Hadley, the venerable design house.
"I wanted to bring back a bit of the 1980s, when Sister Parish so brilliantly mixed wicker and painted furniture with more formal pieces, and then, of course, used pattern with abandon," Kevin says. He knew florals would play a major role, but he also intended to temper Parish's traditionalism. "I looked through the lens of a young person, which meant working with the scale and palette to bring a bit of modernity to it," he says. The approach, however, was no less exuberant. "This was a spirited exercise in decorating, and my intention was for the room to inspire good times."
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Kevin's Finished Room
Kevin chose his wallpaper first, opting for a gingham pattern by Schumacher. "The oversize checks are bold rather than sweet," he says. The more contemporary scale of the check allowed him to add florals without the room feeling fuddy-duddy. He decorated with an diverse group of furnishings, from Art Deco chairs to a Gustavian bench.
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"Sister Parish, the famed designer for whom I worked years ago, loved to include outdoor furniture in a room. It was one of her signature moves," Kevin says. He mixed garden pieces from Treillage, including wicker chairs and a ceramic stool, with more-formal furnishings, such as a George I hall table.
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Kevin gave stock bookcases from Gothic Cabinet Craft a boost by setting them on a 9 1/4-inch base and adding molding on top, bottom, and sides. "By doing just those simple things, I created cabinets that look like they were custom-built," he says.
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Giving the ceiling, or "fifth wall", as Kevin refers to it, due attention is one of his key decorating suggestions. "I've long been inspired by frescoed ceilings in churches and cathedrals," he says, "so why not inspire friends and family to look up?" Kevin covered the ceiling in the same Schumacher floral wallpaper he used on the screen -- "I initially wanted to continue the gingham there, but that would have been too maddening," he says -- and added a picture rail to the existing ceiling molding to give it more presence. "It frames the wallpaper beautifully."
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Timid accessories would not do in such an animated space, so Kevin added fringe, grosgrain, decorative trims, and piping to plain pillows to give them some verve. "Think of them as yet another opportunity to add pattern and color," he says.
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Layers of pattern show up everywhere, including on the floor. "I could get away with putting down a sisal rug from Safavieh because the floors are so beautifully dark," Kevin says. "It wouldn't look as smart on a mid-tone floor." He set a fringe-trimmed rug on top of it to provide a grounding for the furnishings.