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Color Brings a Family-Friendly Show House to Life

Pittsburgh interior designer Alisha Gwen allowed her spirited persona to shine through in this show house in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania. Her mission was to highlight key features of the home while opening potential buyers' minds to the unabashed use of color. She stands by her belief that color is for everyone; people just have to find the right color for them.

Her love of vibrant, splashy hues and new combinations of fabric, furniture and styles pay homage to The Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia, designed by icon Dorothy Draper. This interpretation of neobaroque style isn't for the faint at heart but is reserved for and appreciated by those who also come alive at the sight of color.
One of the home's most unforgettable spaces is the great room, decked out in a flirty palette of salmon pink and apple green. The eclectic furniture ranges from showroom pieces to antique market finds.

"I favor mixing the old with the new to create spaces that are both modern and timeless," Gwen says. "I often strive to integrate both high-end and cost-effective furnishings to achieve a balance between comfort, function, affordability and style."

Except for the sofa, each piece of furniture received custom upholstery. The artwork was a DIY project Gwen created using paintable wallpaper and blank canvases.
Gwen's furniture plan offers a helpful lesson or two. For starters, she chose accent chairs with a lower back to keep from obstructing the view of the room’s focal point. She saved the higher-back chairs for the side of the room. The opposing sofa perfectly balances the scale of the oversize chairs.

The kitchen was without a doubt designed for merrymaking. Dual islands provide an inviting gathering place, whether for a few dinner guests or a packed house for the holidays.

With the islands providing the bulk of needed storage, Gwen took advantage of the opportunity to use open shelving. Subway tiles provide a clean and classic backdrop for a showcase of dishware, glasses and other objects of interest.
In the adjoining sunroom, a vaulted ceiling and an abundance of windows create the feeling of an outdoor dining experience. Sunny yellow paint is the quintessential solution for ushering sunshine into the kitchen, even on a cloudy day.

Sprightly drapery panels soften the hard lines of the windows.
When designing a space for a client with small children, Gwen recommends creating a playroom in lieu of a study. This one is among the bedrooms, so parents can keep an eye on children instead of segregating them in the basement.

The walls are scribbleworthy, thanks to chalkboard paint. The lime-green ceiling and Bubble Chair knockoff add whimsy to the kid-friendly environment.
This master bedroom is the textbook definition of Gwen's signature style. Playful and sophisticated, it combines color, clean lines, large-scale patterns and classic furniture styles.

The bold Thibaut wallpaper distinguishes this home and catapults it into show house status. "I chose the paper to surprise viewers and encourage them to take risks," Gwen says. "Actually, I selected bathroom tile first, and as fate would have it the blues matched perfectly. Most who are uncomfortable with such a bodacious wallpaper print warm to the idea when they view both spaces as a suite."
Green is a common thread throughout the house and makes a refreshing appearance in the master bedroom in the form of matching nightstands.
The oversize 15-foot shower is the focal point in this master bath and boasts an intricate design of tiles in a mix of colors and sizes. The pattern mimics a stripe motif traditionally seen in wallpaper or paint treatments.
In the same bath, homeowners can create their own spa experience in this modern freestanding tub. "The original floor plan called for a tub built on a deck. Current trends are leaning more towards this freestanding option," Gwen says.

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