Notes from the Field: The Berkshire Designer Showcase at Ventfort Hall

By Karin Lidbeck Brent
How do some of the best Berkshires interior designers reinvent the grand spaces of what was once a magnificent Gilded age mansion?

I had a great time finding out when I went to the opening reception of the Ventfort Hall Designer Showcase in Lenox, Massachusetts, on June 4. The mansion, still in the throes of restoration, has been reinterpreted in fantastic ways with much imagination, frivolity and style.

The opening event, a festive cocktail reception, was a visual feast of designed rooms, antiques vendors, artisans and artists. The show house–fourteen rooms done by fifteen designers–will remain open to the public for the next six months and money raised will help fund future restoration projects of Ventfort Hall.

This was an inspiring event for me and a wonderful opportunity to meet an extremely talented group of designers. Each room functions differently with individual themes and realities, all highly spirited, playful, sophisticated and full of surprises.

I don’t want to spoil the fun by sharing all of the design experiences created there–I suggest you go see for yourself–but I will give you a sneak peek of two rooms.

I was struck with delight when I entered the room of Eric Hilton, who created a fantastic room all about color, patterns and playful inventiveness.

It’s a happy room full of surprises. One can get lost in this space while discovering many fun, unexpected details. I fell in love with his custom rug made of wool and Astroturf patches.

The retro-style lampshades he designed for the whimsical mid-century lamps add fun and frivolity, while the colorful watercolors provided by local artist Barbara Swanson Sherman grab your eye.

In contrast, Karen Beckwith‘s meditation room was soothing and quiet, a space designed for spiritual exploration.

I fell in love with Karen’s own signature mediation chair; the room is inspired by nature and brings the outside in. Karen’s creative energy is evident everywhere and in each and every detail.

One example is her beautifully designed willow leaf fabric, which covers the walls and custom-designed furniture.

The artist/ writer’s desk is beautifully thought out and designed as well.

This show house is definitely worth a visit, and there are plenty of more beautiful rooms to discover!

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