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Ships that Pass in the Night

In the world of interior design, the tools of the professional are many, but perhaps none so vast, and equally subtle as well as powerful, as the options of fabric and the countless ways to utilize the capacity of textiles. Often a particular swatch is credited with being the inspiration of a room. So it was in this project. “It all started with the Cowtan and Tout fabric in the sitting room,” MacPhee recalls. A deft choice given the versatility of the shades and tones found in the pattern. The natural white background keeps things from being too stuffy and dusty—a perilous path to maneuver when attempting to provide old world charm—and the shades of sage green and hues of yellow goldenrod are the perfect tones for every season, neither too light nor too dark. Set against walls bathed in a green evocative of the historic celadon found in ancient Ming vases and grounded by a luxurious, subtly patterned, tone-on-tone neutral rug from Dover Rugs, the room feels welcoming, yet not too precious— just the right balance to entertain your guests and encourage a bit of cozy conversation.

Leveraging her toolbox again, MacPhee balanced the cooler greens with their complementary cousins on the color wheel by introducing shades of eggplant and amethyst into the space with texturally tactile pieces like soft throws and over-stuffed chenille throw pillows on a settee in front of a sunny bow window.

Needing to furnish the entire home and wanting to set the appropriate backdrop for this historical setting, MacPhee embarked on an odyssey to source a plethora of antique pieces. While most of the soft, upholstered pieces were sourced and crafted by furniture lines MacPhee trusts and relies upon, the search for the unusual and unique involved a dedication to adventure that MacPhee enthusiastically embraced.

“I go everywhere looking for things,” she explains. “It is funny because I have been buying things from so many dealers for so long, we are able to review generations of memories when we see each other. Most times, I may have an idea or two about what I am looking for, but often find things along the way that I pick up, not knowing if it will work or not. If it doesn’t, it will probably find a home in a future project.” Such was the case with a very special and unique item MacPhee added to this project: an antique foot warmer that sits below the settee. “People would put embers in the base of the foot warmer for their guests, and then, they would use it as a foot stool. It was such an ingenious, yet thoughtful, elegant way to welcome someone; I just loved it. That piece was hard to part with,” MacPhee says with a smile.

MacPhee also relies upon her own innovation to create the perfect solutions for her clients, like the custom-built bar, set in an antique-looking armoire she designed so the homeowners could easily mix spirits and aperitifs for their guests. In keeping with the unique and unexpected and at the request of the homeowner, MacPhee added the gilded finish to the interior of the piece that when closed, looks as though it could have been the backdrop to Longfellow as he gathered inspiration for his writings.

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