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Step inside the bar at the Junior League Show House in Newton

How two designers teamed up to create a room that mixes tradition with a dash of edge.

keller + keller photography
keller + keller photography

The Greek Revival manse that serves as this year’s Junior League of Boston Decorators’ Show House, Newton’s 1854 Nathaniel Allen House, has a small room at the rear of the imposing central hall. There, Hingham’s Cecilia Walker and Tracy Foley of Medfield have transformed what was originally a pass-through between the living room and the library into a bar that is all about celebrating historic architectural elements, mixing old with new and introducing pops of color and pattern. Accents of black, white, gold, and green give the room’s traditional sensibility an unexpected edge. The designers have incorporated some of their favorite things, including Walker’s wallpaper and hand-printed screened fabric and Foley’s curated furnishings. Close friends as well as collaborators, they credit their careers to their mothers — Foley’s collected antiques and Walker’s worked as a designer. “We are great at bouncing ideas off each other,” Walker says. The result, says Foley, is “a small room with a lot of moments.”


1. To bring life into the room, the designers used easy-to-care-for green plants in simple, neutral containers.

2. For maximum natural light, a floor-to-ceiling three-window bay was minimally treated with plain linen panels trimmed with Walker’s “Bradley Road” and “Halfpipe” patterns.

3. Foley covered a small 1970s settee with linen and lifted it out of the ordinary with a bold brass zipper. Walker’s fabrics form the welting and cover the pillows.

4. A large drum-shaped brass chandelier, of industrial origin, hovers above the seating area. Like the brass zipper, it adds an edgy vibe to traditional forms.

5. The large-scale proportions of Walker’s “Calisole” pattern wallpaper, printed in dark green on white, make for drama on the ceiling as well as the walls.

6. The built-in cabinetry, door and window trim, moldings and baseboards get a jolt of saturated color via Farrow & Ball’s new “Inchyra Blue” paint in high gloss.


7. Sisal indoor-outdoor carpeting puts an easy-care base layer on the floor.

8. “Liaison Doheny” by Kelly Wearstler, produced by Ann Sacks Tile, lines the wall at the center of the built-in cabinets. Its contemporary, graphic design is a happy counterpart to the 19th-century architecture.

9. White ironstone vessels, a ceramic elephant, and a piece of coral provide pops of white against a dark background.

10. A new mahogany countertop speaks of the room’s traditional roots.

11. Mid-century barware trimmed with horse’s heads, brass and glass tumblers, dishes of matches, and a vintage cut-glass ashtray are traditional accoutrements of a bar.

The 45th anniversary show house is open to the public through June 5. For information, visit jlboston.org/show-house.