Monday Oct 02, 2023

Where the art of home decor lives

How many times have you looked around the rooms in your house, apartment, or condo and thought how bored you were with how they look? The paint, the furniture, the artsy pieces … boring! 

What to do? Visit the friendly, experienced and creative interior designers at COVE by Knickerbocker Group, at 8 Builder’s Way, Boothbay. Now the company cannot only design your home based on your needs and build it, but can also help design the interiors top to bottom.

Angela “Angie” Ballard is a senior licensed interior designer. She works independently, and at COVE. The Boothbay studio/showroom has been around nearly three years. A Portland studio opened this spring. Both locations are pairing art and furnishings; in Portland, work is from Portland Art Gallery and Brad Betts/Down East Gallery in Edgecomb.

The idea of pairing art and home furnishings in the studio stemmed from a need from the interior designers.

“We sell furniture to our interior design clients and it was always a challenge to not have art for them to look at, or try out in person,” Ballard said. “Art is so useful in creating settings so people can see how the pieces interact with each other. We pair art and furnishings at home, so why not do it here? I think it’s elevated our studios, just as it does at home.”

When the Boothbay studio opened, art was selected from work at Portland Art Gallery. Ballard and Jen DeRose, senior brand and content manager for COVE, began looking to local art galleries for pairings. A large painting from Gleason Fine Art had recently been bought for Paul’s Steak House at Boothbay Harbor Country Club, so Ballard and DeRose decided to see what other artworks were in the Gleason gallery.

In early August, COVE held an open house to unveil the art pairings – about 20 pieces by Henry Isaacs, Jessica Ives, Roger Dale Brown, Andrea Peters and Peter Sculthorpe and sculptors Jeff Barrett, Mark Herrington and Roger Majorowicz.

Ballard said the art pairing has generated some excitement among clients as well as COVE’s interior designers who can switch things up by moving a painting or sculpture here and different pillows there.

“Here, clients and potential clients can picture art in a room,” Ballard said. “I like to bring color into a space. People are often wary of color, but I try to push their boundaries, just a little, but still keeping to the very popular Maine coastal look. Blues and greens are most popular, too.”

COVE Studio has three dining rooms, two living rooms, two bedrooms, a snug or den, and a sitting area for a bedroom. The furnishings are designed by COVE, where 12 interior designers work individually and in collaboration.

What comes first, the art or the furnishings? That depends on whether a potential client is completely changing a room, including the furniture, or looking to add art and then use colors from the painting to accent the existing furnishings.

Two examples of the art being the focal point: The colors in the very large Isaacs painting in one of the living room sets from which colors, including greens, blues, white, yellow, browns, and coral reds, popped out of the frame and into the room: Two pale green chairs, a vase of sunflowers, throw pillows with blues, browns and a few other neutral colors in patterns; a deep brown sofa, a ship model and black sculpture of a tall bird brought out the whites and bit of black in the painting.

Another living room featured a large painting by East Boothbay artist Andrea Peters, whose work is always rich in vibrant color. This painting is of a local scene with the focus on the fauna rather than the sea, which is also there, you just don’t notice it at first. COVE’s designers chose a large deep green console cabinet below the painting, coral red patterned throw pillows; the greens in the painting are reflected in a decorative platter adorned with painted green leaves.

“What we love about Andrea’s work is the way she pulls the colors and composition together,” Ballard said. “Jeff Barrett’s 3D seagull sculpture on the table (five sit on a piece of driftwood) brings a playfulness to the dining room.”

“Seeing the art in a living setting is more cohesive,” Dennis Gleason said. “It’s more organic.”

“We can customize everything from fabrics, cushions, tile, wall treatments,” said Ballard. “It’s about doing our research to find fun, creative ways to feature everything from the art to the lighting fixtures. We use local furniture makers and furniture is made in North Carolina, each to fit each client’s preferences.”

Ballard noted most clients walking in are looking for living room ideas, particularly upholstered furniture. To be sure they get the kind of cushion they want for their sofas, loveseats and chairs, there is a sofa in the studio suited to trying out different pillow/cushion fillings.

Business has increased since COVE has added art pairing into the decorating mix, and it has helped get COVE’s name out to different people, Ballard said, beyond Knickerbocker clients – and that’s nationwide.

Ives worked for the Gleasons when she was in college in the early 2000s at the gallery in Camden. “Through the years I’ve always been impressed at their consistent effort to bring the work of their artists to new markets, whether in downtown Camden or Portland, to notable art fairs, using online platforms, or creating installations in public spaces. And they’ve done it all while maintaining an anchor of solid business in Boothbay Harbor,” Ives said. “Collaborating with Knickerbocker to bring the work of their artists to COVE is a true expression of the spirit of curiosity and creativity that has made them so successful for so many years. As an artist I really appreciate that they’re always looking to present my work in a new way!”

Peters was delighted to hear some of her work had been chosen for COVE’s art concept. “It’s a beautiful idea and it shows off the art at its best advantage: In a home setting. I’m really pleased they did it.”



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