Diane Durocher Imagines A Young Explorer Bedroom For Curious Minds

In its storied history, the Ivy League town of Princeton, New Jersey has long been known for the best in education, the arts, and culture. It has also—since 1974—been known as a showhouse town. But in recent years that aspect of Princeton culture had ceased, until last year when aspire design and home launched Aspire House Princeton, in a contemporary home only a few minutes from the Gothic towers of Princeton University and its surrounding landmark mansions. A portion of the proceeds from the showhouse were set aside to benefit the education and careers of up-and-coming designers from underrepresented communities.

In our recently released aspire design and home Showhouse Issue, we sat down with Diane Durocher to learn more about her creative process in designing the Boy’s Bedroom for this project.

aspire design and home: How much time did you have to complete this room, start to finish?
Diane Durocher: We were awarded the room in December 2019 and immediately started to procure our furniture, fabric and wall covering, as well as enlisted our workroom, vendors and painting contractor. Many of the decisions and purchases for this room were made in January so we were very ready to install in October.

aspire: What did you and your team accomplish that you thought would not happen in time?
Diane: This room was very well planned out – our only worry was whether or not the showhouse would open because of COVID.

aspire: What was your inspiration for this room?
Diane: “Adventure, curiosity and exploration are what opens young minds to infinite possibilities!” My inspiration for the design of Julian’s bedroom was imagining a nine-year-old boy’s curiosity about world, travel and life. The palette and furniture were selected so that the masculine, modern and industrial decor will grow with him.

We created a timeless space for homework, reading and dreaming big dreams!

aspire: Did you step out of your comfort zone for this project, and if so, why?
Diane: My design aesthetic leans a little more traditional/transitional – designing this contemporary room was a wonderful opportunity to flex my creative muscles.

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?
Diane: I cannot speak for the designers, that might have had a more collaborative experience due to the openness of the floor plan, but bedrooms usually have their own personalities especially when you are designing a child’s room.

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?
Diane: I have been very honored to have participated in 18 showhouses. It’s my preference to design a room that is approximately 400 square feet, with good natural light and good architectural bones. Although that isn’t always the case – it’s our wish.

aspire: Describe the town of Princeton in one sentence.
Diane: Princeton is a beautiful historic town, it has the small-town vibe of a college town surrounded by stunning countryside.

This or That?

aspire: Paint or wallpaper?
Diane: Both, but wall covering adds texture and interest!
aspire: Saturated Color or Black & White?
Diane: Color, color and more color!
aspire: Hardwood or rug?
Diane: Hardwood with an area rug!!
aspire: Brunch or Dinner?
Diane: Sunday brunch Saturday night dinner!
aspire: Beach or Mountains?
Diane: I’m a Jersey Girl (old Jersey Girl) so absolutely the beach. But with that being said, the Ramapo mountains are within our sight here in Ramsey, and there isn’t anything quite as stunning as viewing the changing seasons with the mountains as a backdrop! So both!!
aspire: Midcentury or 18th Century?
Diane: Although I love the classic clean lines of midcentury, the timelessness of 18th century is my personal preference!
aspire: Draperies, shades or nothing?
Diane: Drapery!
aspire: 2001: A Space Odyssey or The English Patient?
Diane: English patient – classic, romantic, layers!!
aspire: Week at the spa or Week of Broadway shows?
Diane: If I have a week to relax I’m thinking spa!

Click Here to view more interviews with our Aspire House Princeton designers.

Photography by Mike Van Tassell.

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