An Interview with Paula Daher, Designer of the “Home for the Holidays” Versailles Room

The “Home for the Holidays” exhibit—sponsored by Cumar Marble & Granite, the Over My Shoulder Foundation, Neiman Marcus, Boston Design Week, and New England Home magazine—features three gorgeous, unique living spaces decorated for the season and inspired by a royal residence. “Home for the Holidays” is the vision of Cumar’s own Dawn Carroll, who also serves as the Executive Director of the Over My Shoulder Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes mentorship in design. Each of the participating designers—Paula Daher, Eric Roseff, and Gerald Pomeroy—worked closely with a mentee on the project.

Recently, Cumar had the chance to chat with Paula Daher, founder and principle of Daher Interior Design. Since 1995 she and her team have designed elegant, stylish living spaces in Greater Boston and beyond. For “Home for the Holidays,” Daher teamed up with mentee Virginia Sherrer-Thoss to produce the stunning Versailles Room (pictured), on display at Neiman Marcus, Copley Place, through the new year.

 

How would you describe your personal design philosophy?

Scale and proportion are the foundation of any space I work on. Proportion and scale have everything to do with how a room is viewed and how it functions. Fabrics, colors, and textures play strongly into the scale of the room by helping to balance the overall field of vision. My personal aesthetic is that of simple elegance, uncluttered, with forms, shapes, and color harmoniously integrated.

 

What was the first design element you chose for your “Home for the Holidays” room?

Ah, the two antique chairs and settee were the first elements. My overall feel for the room was to have a modern interpretation of what Versailles would look like if created today. The shape of the two antique chairs with their round backs and simple tight-back interiors feels modern, yet the carved-wood detailing echoes the past. My inner visual was always to approach the room with the back of the chair, upholstered in an interesting way, framed by sumptuous curtains.

The Versailles Room fireplace by Cumar

 

Which is your favorite design element in the room? Why? 

The fireplace, with stone and fabrication by Cumar, is the most dramatic and awe-inspiring element in the room! The way the stone has been bonded into a mass, yet has softly curved lines and polished edges, allows it to visually carry the weight of being the center and star of the room!

 

Which do you think is the most unique element?

The beautiful painting by Luc Leestemaker brings vibrancy and personality to the room. The artist was so adept at bringing the viewer into his painting with color, blending, and abstract imagery. Each viewer sees something different, something personal.

 

What were the biggest challenges to this project?

An eight week timeframe from sketchpad to opening party was the greatest challenge. The build-out of a complete room—flooring, electrical, furnishings, all custom, all posing a great degree of technical difficulty—was an extraordinary feet. All of the artisans involved worked diligently, with many long nights and weekends, to make this room the success it is.

 

Tell us about the experience of working closely with a mentee.

How fun to be able to work on a complete project, in a short amount of time, and be able to show all of the tenets of interior design at the same time. The opportunity to show our mentee how hard work, collaboration, scheduling, flexibility—the ability to change a design plan if something either did not work or was unavailable—showed the true picture of what it takes to be successful in the world of interior design. Our mentee, Virginia Sherrer-Thoss, proved herself a valuable team member that was an integral part of the success of this project.

 

Photographs courtesy of Michael Lee.