In a different type of year, this fall’s HOMEARAMA® rose to the occasion for inspiration.
Yes, hand sanitizers, masks and social distancing made a strong statement at this year’s HOMEARAMA®, but they could not compete with the spectacular views that were the clear focus for show attendees. All of the four-story homes on display were topped with rooftop open-air gathering spaces capitalizing on sweeping views of the Ohio River, the hills of Northern Kentucky and the downtown Cincinnati skyline.
There was a decidedly more urban feel to this year’s entries that was fitting in with their location within the City of Cincinnati’s East End, nestled between Columbia Parkway and the Ohio River. Builders, designers and landscapers worked together to complement rather than rival the views.
Bright idea: Give yourself breathing room
All of the homes took full advantage of the views off the rear-facing rooms of all three floors. In most of the homes, glass walls or screens disappeared into recesses in the walls allowing for a spectacular panoramic view. Gathering areas grew considerably when these walls of windows were opened up for an easy flow between interior and exterior spaces. All of the homes reserved a major portion of their top floors for entertaining with indoor bars and outdoor lounging and dining areas. In The Conductor by Redknot Homes, windows fold away to open up service for two guests who may choose to belly up to the bar.
The view of the river and skyline draws guests to the rooftop in The Millard Fillmore by Wieland Builders.
In all of the floorplans, homeowners, and guests, had elevators serving the lower level, first, second and third floors—where the rooftop patios preside.
Bright idea: Ditch the traditional dining room
Without interior walls separating them from the kitchen and great room areas, dining spaces held center stage allowing diners to feel included in, rather than excluded from the activity surrounding them. Show attendee Robbin Holliday commented that she loved how family dining was just steps away from the stove, adding that “Dinners could be casual or formal depending on how you set the table.”
Bright idea: Go with the glow
Each year, light fixtures are eye-catching standouts at the show and this year was definitely no exception. All of the homes added statements of their own with carefully selected light pendants, chandeliers and sconces. In The Silverthorne, by JNB Custom Homes a “wall of light,” a fixture drops gracefully alongside the three-story staircase and was hand-made in the Ukraine. “The inspiration for this piece was to connect the three floors with a unified form that reveals itself throughout the space,” says interior designer, Renan Menninger.
Bright idea: Let stairs make a statement
Inside each of the homes, elegant staircases led visitors graciously between floors. An unexpected twist: in about half of the homes the first floors were reserved for a master suite and guest bedrooms, with the more public rooms—kitchen, dining area, and family room–on the second floor where they were perched for a slightly higher view. The others featured the flip of that–with the upper position reserved for the master suite.
Bright idea: Take lessons from history
While the majority of the homes leaned contemporary, two had a decidedly more traditional look. The Royal Blue, from Redknot Homes, with its painted lady revival style had an exterior that stood out from the crowd, but its interior also stepped away from the norm, as it was furnished with vintage pieces that the designers collected from area antique stores. Aubrie Welsh, the interior designer of this home suggests, “Buy things that you truly love. Invest in quality pieces even if that means they were pre-loved.” Her associate, Lara Roller adds, “People are mixing in antiques and vintage pieces. There’s an appreciation of the story.”
Next door, in The Millard Fillmore, by Wieland Builders, there’s a definite minimalistic feel to the furnishings, but intricate layers of architectural elements are fitting for this home’s owner who is a history buff, with a particular focus on U.S. presidents. Pay attention to the details and the woodwork and you won’t need to rely of accessories to create a classic, traditional look,” says Kelly Shiels, the home’s interior designer. “The goal in this home was sophistication—not charm.”
Bright idea: Choose to add hues
It was not a year to be afraid of color. Especially in the aptly named home, The Royal Blue, where designers went bold with paint colors on the walls and layers of greens in their great room, including the Rookwood Tile fireplace surround. “We’re glad to see that people want color again. Blue is classic, but we are also seeing a lot of green signifying life and energy.” Says Lara Roller, one of the home’s interior designers.
In the Bella Vista, by Sterling Homes, guest rooms have dramatic walls of color including a rich navy and vibrant red. In the kitchen and great room theirs a more subtle pop of color in the bar stools, club chairs and throw pillows. “Accents of saffron are big right now,” says interior designer Amy Holt. “We used this soft shade of gold as an accent in pillows and chairs.”
Bright idea: Play with Patterns
In both entries from Sterling Homes, layers of patterns where mixed into the furnishings as well as the architecture. The powder rooms in both homes had walls that popped with wallpaper. And the X shape was worked into ceiling treatments, windows and a wall in the kitchen in Bella Vista. “X’s are in!” says Amy Holt, Interior Designer, Designs on Madison.
In a similar fashion, colors and patterns, textures were layered throughout the homes and were noticeable in the woven rugs found in most of the houses, along with leather accent pieces, granite and marble countertops and fireplace surrounds. “We took our cues from the dramatic lighting in the home, then added a bit of warmth with natural textures,” says Lisa Mellott, design director with Design to Market, the team that staged The Silverthorne. The effect is a subtle but didn’t go unnoticed by show attendee Jenny Mottier who liked “The play of texture and light,” in all the homes.
A guest room in The Silverthorne, staged by Design to Market, features a lush area rug and, natural wood furnishings, and a leather bed pillow positioned in front of two shiny silk pillows.
Builders and Interior Designers for HOMEARAMA® 2020
Photography by Greg Grupenhof and Connie Kimsey