Imagine stepping up to the front door of a historic little inn in the Berkshires. Its charming exterior hints at 18th and 19th century origins, and it sits on 4 acres of beautiful land, which — depending on the season — alternates between lush and green, blooming with wildflowers, glowing with fiery fall hues, or sparkling like a winter wonderland.
It’s love at first sight, and yet… there’s SO much more to the Cornell Inn than meets the eye.
Inside its colonial style front door, this historic gem is a kaleidoscope of color, culture, and style. Every room has a different look, a different story, and a different transformation awaiting the guests who appear to soak up its magic. It’s jaw-dropping, soul-soothing, and endlessly inspiring!
This, my friend, is the Kaleidoscope Project.
Meet the Kaleidoscope Project
Spoiler Alert: The Kaleidoscope Project isn’t your typical inn… as of May 16th, 2021, it’s also a designer showhouse! Every room — from the 18 bedrooms to the dining room to the bar — was created with care by a different interior designer with a unique vision, background, cultural roots, and creativity.
Unlike traditional showhouses, which get photographed and torn down months later (ahhhh, so wasteful, why!?!?), the Kaleidoscope Project is breaking the mold with their hospitality-based vision. The Cornell Inn and all the designers’ work will remain open for lucky guests to experience and enjoy for years to come!
That’s right, YOU can come experience the magic for yourself! (Sounds heavenly, doesn’t it?) Want to know the best part??
One of the rooms in this showhouse — right off the entrance, no less — will be designed by yours truly! I know, somebody pinch me!
I am so thrilled and honored to be one of the 21 designers of color (BIPOC) who were asked to participate in the Kaleidoscope Project Designer Showhouse. Their mission is not only to amplify diverse and underrepresented voices but also to showcase and celebrate their talents, too. Bravo!
As one of two Indian designers selected (and with contemporary, Indian-inspired design being rare in the U.S.), I feel personally responsible for weaving our rich culture into a modern-day experience, using color, textures, history, and emotion to create a relevant yet timeless narrative.
Which brings me to my room! It’s still getting its final touches in the next two weeks, but I can’t resist giving you a delicious sneak peek…
The Inspiration Behind My Guest Bedroom & Bathroom Design
So, where did the inspiration for this room start? First, I knew that I wanted my Indian and Kuwait background to play a role in the final design. Not just to celebrate my roots, but also to transport future guests to places they may never have been.
However, I also wanted to create spaces that would feel relatable, personal, and inspiring, no matter who will be staying there. To do this, I had to identify which aspects of my culture were ideal for sharing and find ways to blend old and new.
I think you’re going to love what I’ve come up with…
The Narrative: The Empress Within
As you know, I am a true believer in telling your narrative. I believe that every person is a living, breathing, walking story — and our homes are uniquely positioned for telling that story. The result is a space where you feel belonging, relaxation, inspiration, and even boldness!
This is exactly how I approach all the spaces we design, and this showhouse was no different. So, what story do I want to tell?
My room is called The Empress’s Quarters, and it’s where you go to find, embrace, and release “the empress within.” Yes, within you.
This bedroom and bathroom will be where luxury and pampering erase common worries from your mind. It’s where colors and textures inspire you to greatness. It’s where the spirits of royalty past (the Indian queens and Mughal princesses), meets royalty present (YOU, of course!), meets royalty future (yes, there will be a design nod to warrior-princesses Leia and Rey from Star Wars).
In this room, you are part of a narrative that transcends time, banishes boundaries, and frees the empress within!
A tiny peek at just one section of the custom, hand painted, Mughal-inspired wallpaper I’ll be using! By Gracie
The Color Story: Jewel-Tones, Luxurious Metals & a Hint of Spice
Once I had established my narrative, I was ready to create a color story. Although the Kaleidoscope Project leaders gave us free rein when designing our rooms, they did request that each designer choose from one of 3 colorways: neutrals (for rest), cool tones (for reflection), or warm tones (for rejuvenation).
What better way for an empress to enjoy luxury and do right by her subjects, than with luxurious reflection? My thoughts exactly.
Traditional Indian design is characterized by rich, saturated colors derived from earthy tones and precious gems. Palaces, like the Taj Mahal, are built from gorgeous natural stone (keep an eye out for Carrara marble in the guest bathroom!). Design details favor organic shapes, elaborate patterns and scenes, and luxurious, shimmering metals.
To keep the overall feeling “cool,” I decided to go with soothing greens, blues, and teals. Of course, for balance and a hint of “spice,” I’ll bring in tones like amber, turmeric, gold, and blush. It’s going to be spectacular! Go bold or go home, right?!
Here’s a moodboard or two to whet your appetite…
Between you and me, I also had another reason for going with this color palette. In my culture, green is considered an auspicious and regal color. Since this is my first BIG endeavor as an emerging designer, I picked it for good luck, too! You won’t tell anyone, right? 😉
A look at the fixtures and materials. And speaking of…
Bringing the Fantasy to Life: Materials & Generous Sponsors
I absolutely could not have created this room without the help of our generous sponsors, and I’m not saying that because they asked me to — I’m saying it because it is 100% true.
I am beyond grateful for the industry vendors who lined up to show their support by donating A LOT of their materials and products that will be used in this guest bedroom and bathroom: Benjamin Moore (painting the whole B&B), Kravet, Ellen DeGeneres Home Collections, Shade Store (doing ALL the drapes and blinds) for all rooms, Schumacher, Currey & Co (lighting), AKDO (tile), Ann Gish, Perennials, Blueprint Lighting, Circa Lighting, and Iconic Pineapple to name a few.
I had the opportunity to bring on any sponsors that I personally like or have good relationships with, so my room will exclusively have products from Theodore Alexander, Hudson Valley Lighting, Gracie Studio (wallpaper), Brizo and Ferguson.
P.S. JUST WAIT till you see the full Gracie Wallpaper scene! It’s to die for!
Wait… when is the Big Reveal?!
Great question, and believe me, I’m just as anxious and excited as you are!! The official unveiling is May 16th. It will take some time to get the professional photographs back from my photographer, so I’ll be sharing the full reveal in several installments right here on the R/terior Studio blog starting in June. I know, who can wait that long?!
If you’re as impatient as I am, you can follow me on Instagram for some on-the-ground footage mid-May! (You can also follow Elle Decor, who is the events media sponsor. I know, it’s a BIG DEAL!)
Until then, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for following along. I am obsessed with all the good and groundbreaking aspects of the Kaleidoscope Project, and I can’t wait to share my take on luxe, contemporary design through an Indian woman’s perspective. Stay tuned!