When Kathleen Jeschke of The Purple Door first saw the sunny alcove off the living room, she knew it needed a piano. From there, she envisioned the spacious living room around it as a casually elegant space where the homeowners could entertain not only guests, but themselves. “The house didn’t have a family room on the main floor,” she says. “And I wanted them to have a room they could use every day, a place to read, play games, or watch TV.

Starting with a pretty Carolyn Ray wallpaper for the alcove, a free-form nature motif set in orderly rectangles, Jeschke gave her spacious living room a soothing palette with berry walls and accents of plum and lime green. An iron and crystal chandelier added a formal touch and enhanced the play of sunlight through the space. Framing the doorway into the alcove were six line drawings of women in 19th century styles. “I thought, these could be the women ancestors of the house; they lent a sense of history,” says the designer.

For one of the two seating areas of the living room, Jeschke mixed tradition with some surprises, starting with rattan wing chairs. Pieces from Lane’s Excursion collection, the chairs pleased both the traditionalist and the nonconformist. Continuing the West Indies look, a game table and chairs from Bauer were made of leather textured to resemble wicker.

On the other side of the room, an exotic coffee table Jeschke designed from an Asian lotus boat was the focal point of a seating group that included a Pearson sofa covered in a matelasse fabric. “I liked the shape of that sofa and its scale, which worked well in the high-ceilinged space,” says Jeschke. Matching rattan armoires could be bars or entertainment centers with music or TV.

The designer used family friendly fabrics on upholstery-cottons, linens and ultrasuedes that could wipe clean. At the windows, which already had functional shutters, she added elegant panels of striped silk from Beacon Hill. Lampshades added more visual interest and texture, especially ones fashioned from a burned-out silk velvet.

“The best comments I got on the room were from the people who said the room looked real, and that I made it look effortless,” says Jeschke.

Kathleen Jeschke, The Purple Door Design, Ellicott City, 410-461-1983.

Designer Roselind Cronin of Sulin Interiors in Ellicott City, was one of the many designers who bid on the room Missy Connolly ended up with. The design committee asked her to consider moving her idea of a sitting room/study across the hall to a small bedroom. She obliged and created a serene study that mixed traditional elements such as Oriental antiques from the Pacific Collection in Roland Park, and tailored window treatments with contemporary pieces such as the clean-lined built-ins and pendulum lighting fixtures. “I wanted a quiet study with a strong but controlled personality,” says Cronin.

Decorative painter Linda Carter gave walls three layers of glazing using rust, gold and red tones for a soft, glowing look with the texture of moiré silk. Cabinets are made of a heavily grained ash stained in a taupe shade, with a darker stain on horizontal edges “to ground the room and give it stability,” says Cronin. The windows are dressed in the same fabrics that cover the daybed and its pillows: chenille and silk. “It helps create a sense of everything being in harmony,” says the designer. At the window, both the sheers and the chenille side panels hang from the same rod, and the sheers are adorned with painted grommets and beads.

The pendulum fixtures over the desk are hand-blown Murano glass from Dominion Electric in Laurel.

Rosalind Cronin, Sulin Design, Oella, 410-418-9660.

For the small library at Foxhall Manor, designer Anne Markstein upgraded existing moldings and covered the walls above the wainscoting with ultrasuede-covered panels, a la Mondrian, in tones of tan, grey, brown and beige. Furnishings with simple lines and a flat-screen monitor connected to a DVD player added to the serene, modern ambience. Markstein designed the room’s carpet and a glass end table. Her husband, Dennis Falcetti, made the oval library table from reclaimed chestnut, copying a 1903 Arts & Crafts design. Next to it was a cast-resin chair from Mexico with a faux goatskin finish.

Boxy armchairs covered in a tweedy chenille from Stroheim & Romann provided a comfortable reading corner. Sculptural lamps included one with a coconut-wood base and leather shade (by Chista) and another with a hammered metal base and silk shade (by Curry). A wall of shelves showcased works by artisans Markstein met at the ACC Crafts Show, mostly pieces with interesting shape and texture in blown glass, ceramics or wood.

During the showhouse hours, Markstein treated guests to the movie “Out of Africa,” whose landscapes coordinated beautifully with her room’s earthy palette. “I wanted to make this room workable and real,” she says. “I thought it would be a nice place to relax with a good book or a good movie.”

Anne Markstein Interiors, Millers, Md., 410-343-1330.

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