Designed by Inspiration

Sometimes the hardest part of a room makeover is finding where to start. We asked nine designers to take us along on the design process, from inspiration to the final touch. The project was eight rooms in the 2007 Old York Designer Show House — a Shingle-style home near the sea.

Above: Anne Cowenhoven of Accent and Design created a master suite in the soft blues reflected by the sea. She knew blue would be the perfect color and when she found the blue bedspread with white hydrangeas she found the start of her palette. The finished room is filled with small touches that tie everything together. A modern painting on one wall picks up the hydrangeas of the bedspread and the hand-painted birds on the lampshade. An abstract painting over the fireplace echoes the brown tones of the brick. The curtain pattern was copied by artist Judy Dibble of Brookwood Designs and painstakingly recreated by hand on the hallway walls that lead into the bedroom. In the bathroom the blues and what Cowenhoven calls “bluesy grays” are picked up in a foggy shore scene hand-painted on the walls. With everything coming together the result is a soothing and calming suite perfect for a seaside home.

Left: Yvonne Ramirez Steffenberg of YRS Interiors designed Ella’s Room around ideas inspired by her own 13-year-old daughter, Gabriella. The room design started around making the smaller, nearly square room as functional as possible. Steffenberg wanted to create a space that would fit the social and practical needs of a teenage girl’s life. The room can easily be both a place to study or host a sleepover. The daybed, trundle and desk were custom made by Aaron Linn of Small Barn Woodworks, and though each is a fairly large piece, they are cleverly designed to leave plenty of space in the middle of the room. Once the space was planned out, Steffenberg and her daughter chose the palette of greens, purple and blue with ginkgo green and mixed berry purple wall colors. The colors, says Steffenberg, both reflect the nearby ocean and a teenager’s tastes.

Left: For Marie Caswell of Redefine Designs, the inspiration for what she calls “baby land” came from a very personal place. With her daughter expecting Caswell’s first grandchild, Addison, the idea for a nursery was born. Caswell initially found herself drawn to the third floor room because of its interesting angles. After using Baby-Go-Round of Hampton Falls for everything from curtains to furniture, it all fell into place. When she spied the three rabbit prints now hung over the crib, the rest of the room came together. The wall color, potpourri green, came from the prints’ background. From there, says Caswell, she knew she wanted to add pink, a color scheme that would become her starting point. “I incorporated more lavender and yellow than I originally thought,” says Caswell. “The room started to take on a personality of its own.” The result is a soft and serene room that is truly the perfect baby land.

Left: The Master Sitting Room by Marcye Philbrook of Marcye Philbrook Design Studio is an undersea haven. When she opened a sample of the fabric that would become the drapes, the room suddenly began to form, says Philbrook. The fabric, with scenes of life under the sea, was unlike any ocean fabric she had ever seen. Instead of bright, tropical scenes, the soft colors inspired the palette and theme for the rest of the sitting room. Everything in the room, says Philbrook, reminds her of the calm, flowing world beneath the sea or of the nearby coastal salt marshes. The banding and trim around the edges of the curtains and chair reminds her of seaweed, and the textured wallpaper is much like salt marsh hay. Thinking in textures and ocean life helped make this room a perfect beach home retreat.

Left: Lori Eberhardt-Rahill of Lori Eberhardt-Rahill Designs, who painted the beautiful walls, teamed up with Dawn Dube of Audacity by Design and OPUS Designs to create a guest bedroom with matching bathroom. The inspiration for the pink and salmon colors, says Eberhardt-Rahil, came from a vision of a “peachy pink sunset on the beach” she’s wanted to design for some time. When she stumbled onto the fabrics, she was inspired yet again. “That fabric just jumped out at me,” says Eberhardt-Rahill. “I had to have it.” After that, everything seemed to fall into place. The antique-style bed, which was in the window of OPUS Designs, fit in perfectly once Eberhardt-Rahill painted the head and footboard ovals to match the walls.

Left: Cindy Francis of CF Interiors took this room made of nooks and turned it into an Au Pair’s retreat. After spying a picture of a young woman eating ice cream with friends in a Vera Bradley catalog, the fictional resident of her room was created. The inspiration, says Francis, came from imagining a college-age girl. The pinks and greens, she adds, reminded her of preppy college colors. The wall color, celadon green, goes perfectly with the Maine Cottage Furniture colors of “pickle” and “shrimp.” She also wanted to keep the colors in harmony with the gorgeous view her au pair is treated to out her third-story window. The coral colors, says Francis, bring to mind the colors of the sunset. The room also reflects the airy beach feel of the rest of the house while maintaining a level of sophistication. The room, defined by its dramatic eaves, cleverly uses the resulting nooks to create a vanity area, lounging space, a spot for a small refrigerator and even a wall-turned-giant calendar thanks to magnetic paint.

Left: The idea for a color palette that includes the new hot color orange came from the framed letters that spell out Andrew’s name along the wall. Andrew’s room, designed by Nancy Twomey of Finnian’s Moon, has creamy walls that create a neutral background for a palette that includes blue and gray with splashes of the bright orange. The room is a mix of classic and modern elements, such as the traditional Shaker-style bed with added moon and star finials. While the room is ideal for a young boy, the uncluttered space and simple but creative style can easily grow up with its occupant.

Left: Walking into the bathroom designed by Amy M. Thompson of Standard of New England is like taking a step back in time. Inspired by memories of grandma’s house, the old-fashioned claw tub sits on top of a gray marble slab, complementing the soft blues and creams of the walls, artwork and accessories. This simple, but lovely bathroom brings back memories of childhood and brings in a little history to the newly renovated house.

Master Suite

Anne Cowenhoven
Accent and Design Inc.
York, Maine
(207) 363-7949

Finish Painting
Judy Dibble
Brookwood Designs LLC.
(603) 520-4844

Old World Weavers

Lee Jofa


Cranberry Hill Lighting
1280 Route 1
Cape Neddick, Maine
(207) 363-5178

Ella’s Room

Yvonne Ramirez
YRS Interiors
39 Mallard Dr.
York, Maine
(207) 451-0072

Custom Furniture
Aaron Linn
Small Barn Woodworks
York, Maine
(207) 363-0782

Addison’s nursery

Marie Caswell
Redefine Designs
Kennebunkport, Maine
(603) 969-3088

Furniture, furnishings, fabrics, window treatments and crib ensemble
105 Lafayette Rd.
Hampton Falls
(603) 926-2255

Master Sitting Room

Marcye Philbrook
Marcye Philbrook Design Studio
38 Love Ln.
Kittery, Maine
(207) 439-8484

Fabrics and Trims

Cranberry Hill Lighting
1280 Route 1
Cape Neddick, Maine
(207) 363-5178

The Willow
183 Water St.
(603) 773-9666

Paper and Painting
Loranger Painting
South Berwick, Maine

Guest Bedroom and Bath

Lori Eberhardt-Rahill Designs
749 Corning Rd.
(603) 644-2396

Dawn M. Dube
OPUS Designs
194 South Main St.
(603) 645-6787

Provided by Queen City Paints
(603) 668-4155

All other designs and materials are available through Lori Eberhardt-Rahill and Dawn M. Dube.

Au Pair Retreat

Cindy Francis
CF Interiors
78 Long Sands Rd.
York, Maine
(207) 363-3969

Furniture Dressing Table and Seat
Maine Cottage Furniture
Lower Falls Landing
106 Lafayette St.
Yarmouth, Maine
(207) 846-3699

Chair, ottoman, rug and other accessories
Daisy Trading Company
388 Route 1
York, Maine
(207) 363-7941

CF Interiors
York, Maine
(207) 363-3969

Andrew’s Room and Bath

Nancy Twomey
Finnian’s Moon Children’s Furniture
and Custom Interiors
1257 Washington Rd.
(603) 964-7441

All furnishing and accessories are available through Finnian’s Moon.

Small bathroom

Amy M. Thompson
The Kitchen and Bath Showroom at
Standard of New England
100 West Rd.
(603) 436-1400

Paint and Wallcoverings
A&M Paint & Wallpaper
(603) 436-5366