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.
Inside the Showhouse with Judy King
aspire: How much time did you have to complete this room, start to finish?
Judy King: During the time of COVID, we had plenty of time to complete this project. These were uncertain times. We started the process in March 2020 and finished in October 2020 since there were several setbacks and delays. We are locally based, so having our office right around the corner from the showhouse made it easy for us to pop in and out whenever we had the chance.
aspire: What was your biggest challenge?
Judy: I would say the uncertain timeline was the biggest challenge.
Seeking Inspiration and Finding Cohesiveness
aspire: What was your inspiration for this room?
Judy: We felt that the owner of the house was very involved and had expectations for each space early on in the process. That being said, we decided to go with a very zen Asian theme for the primary bedroom and bathroom as the homeowner is from mainland China. Our first inspiration was definitely the new Phillip Jeffries Asian mural that was selected for the feature wall of the bedroom.
aspire: Did you step out of your comfort zone for this project, and if so, why?
Judy: Yes, we typically do not work much with Asian-inspired furniture, decor and aesthetics. We researched this design thoroughly before finalizing our layout and final pieces for the space. It was interesting to learn about the style as we worked through this project.
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?
Judy: We actually did not collaborate with any of the other designers. It just happened to be that the spaces all flowed beautifully and cohesively throughout the home. Rare for a showhouse!
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?
Judy: I prefer large spaces simply because you have more square footage to incorporate pieces that might be restricted in a smaller space.
aspire: Describe the town of Princeton in one sentence.
Judy: Princeton is a wonderful town full of diversity, knowledge and sophistication with a deep history in arts and culture.
“This or That” with Judy King
aspire: Paint or wallpaper?
aspire: Hardwood or rug?
aspire: Beach or Mountains?
aspire: Saturated color or black and white?
Judy: Saturated colors.
aspire: Brunch or Dinner?
aspire: Midcentury or 18th Century?
Judy: 18th Century.
aspire: Draperies, shades, or nothing?
Judy: Depends on the view! Nothing or drapery.
aspire: 2001: A Space Odyssey or The English Patient?
Judy: The English Patient.
aspire: Week at the spa or week of Broadway shows?
Judy: Broadway shows.
Want More Good Design?
Click Here to view more interviews with the designers of Aspire House Princeton.
Photography by Mike Van Tassell.
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