This Comfortable Porch Area By Cynthia Ferguson Is A Breath Of Fresh Air

The Dalton-Bell-Cameron house, built in 1914, was one of the most unique homes in High Point, North Carolina. Built in the Craftsman style, the house was quite different from its more traditional Victorian and Colonial neighbors. But the pioneering structure was stricken by two major fires—one in 1997 and the other in 2012—and by 2017 it was in such a forlorn state that the city ordered it be to be either repaired or demolished.

At that point, the High Point Preservation Society stepped in to save it, just prior to it being sold to Rick Lewis and his wife Margaret Bell Lewis, who had once lived there as a child. Following the purchase, the Society and the Junior League of High Point moved quickly to help with the goal of restoring the home. To assist the new owners with some of the restoration costs, they decided to raise funds by creating a showhouse in the historic home, enlisting a diverse group of 21 extraordinary designers to bring the interiors back to life.

In our recently released aspire design and home Showhouse Issue, we sat down with Cynthia Ferguson to learn more about her creative process in designing the Back Porch for this project.

aspire design and home: How much time did you have to complete this room, start to finish?
Cynthia Ferguson: As with most projects that are not for a client, it tends to take less time to design a space. I had three pieces that I wanted to use as soon as I learned I was creating an outdoor “living room” so it all fell into place quickly from there. Without many walls….or none at all….it was easy for me to design the side porch. I think I was done in a day or so!

aspire: What was your biggest challenge? Did you have a Eureka moment during the process?
Cynthia: My biggest challenge was logistics of course! Being in Canada and decorating a showhouse in North Carolina is always an exercise in logistics, networking and of course, a little bit of magic.

The other element that kept me up at night was fearing the weather! The last installation I did at High Point, at the same time of year, was met with Hurricane Michael blowing through….so I was really worried that my room would get soaked which definitely played into the pieces I chose!

aspire: What did you and your team accomplish that you thought would not happen in time?
Cynthia: I was really afraid of the logistics for my space! It is difficult enough to ship everything, especially to a consolidator I had never met before. When it finally came time for my boxes to arrive and be unpacked, I tend to hold my breath waiting to see if the right things were shipped and if they survived in their containers!

Being the room at the side of the house, with no walls – the landscapers were busy laying grass and washing off patio stones as I was trying to install drapery…the two do not go together!! The install team were my heroes and were able to pull it all together for me in an afternoon for which I was forever grateful!

aspire: What was your inspiration for this room?
Cynthia: My inspiration for the room was simple outdoor living. I wanted to take a room that felt cozy and warm and give it some fresh air! We don’t get a lot of time on our patios in Toronto so the idea that you could extend the outdoor living space in October and November, was so exciting to me! The striped drapery panels kept the hot daytime sun off and helped keep it warmer in the evenings.

aspire: Despite the fact that there were so many designers involved, there is an inherent cohesiveness to the home. Did you all converse/collaborate? Or was this a completely individual process?
Cynthia: This was the first showhouse I have been part of where the rooms really felt like they were actually created collaboratively! It was such a spectacular surprise to all of us I think! As my space was outside, I wasn’t as involved with the interior rooms so when I walked through towards the end of our set up time, I was really quite surprised as the cohesion. It was such a great team to be part of!

aspire: Is your preference for a showhouse a small space or a large space? Does one or the other provide a better opportunity to stretch your creativity?
Cynthia: Sometimes, bigger isn’t better. I prefer to tackle smaller, manageable spaces for showhouses out of my market area. They are easier to manage remotely and definitely easier to install!

However, when you want to stretch yourself creatively, it is nice to have a larger space to do so. Being that my firm is in a densely populated urban centre, our floor plans are smaller so you don’t always get the chance to really push your creativity. There are design elements I am dying to do but need the space to execute!

aspire: Describe the town of High Point in one sentence.
Cynthia: High Point is block after block of endless creative possibilities!

This or That?

aspire: Paint or wallpaper?
Cynthia: Wallpaper always, everywhere!
aspire: Hardwood or rug?
Cynthia: Hardwood – please.
aspire: Beach or Mountains?
Cynthia: Beach
aspire: Saturated Color or Black and White?
Cynthia: COLOR!!!!
aspire: Brunch or Dinner?
Cynthia: Dinner
aspire: Midcentury or 18th Century?
Cynthia: 18th Century
aspire: Draperies, shades, or nothing?
Cynthia: Drapery – the more drama the better!
aspire: 2001: A Space Odyssey or The English Patient?
Cynthia: English Patient
aspire: Week at the spa or Week of Broadway shows?
Cynthia: Spa but only 2 days….I can’t imagine sitting still that long!!

Click Here to view more interviews with our High Point designers.

Photography by Dustin Peck.

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