The interior decorations of Elizabeth Hall, done by Mrs. McKean, was described for a magazine as follows:
A fountain splashes in the entrance way to Elizabeth Hall, the new women's dormitory. The water pours from three mammoth clam shells (from the Philippine Islands) into an Italian mosaic basin. Nearby are Chinese chairs (from Hong Kong) standing on Oriental rugs (from Persia).
One corner of the entrance way is decorated with a tapestry done in 1744 (a gift to the College from the Sullivan Foundation of New York City). Near the tapestry is a screen of bamboo out from the campus of the College and installed under the supervision of the President.
A small parlor, both shimmering and fragile, leading off the entrance hall is as unlike the usual dormitory parlor as Jeannette Genius McKean could imagine. Against a wall of Kappa-Shell (mother-of-pearl type shell from the Philippine Islands) stand two lamps of turquoise colored rock quartz. One of these lamps is supported by three gold leaf covered geese. Between the lamps and against the shell wall is a Louis XVI settee. On the opposite wall is a baroque double seated chair from a 17th century Venetian palace. A contemporary commode made by Heritage and a handsome roccoco mirror, Mrs. McKean found in a College cellar and had refinished, complete the furniture for the little parlor.
A light fixture for such a parlor might present a problem to the "traditional interior decorator." Mrs. McKean resolved it by having a chandelier designed by a Hollywood artist, Mike Ferrante who has designed lamp fixtures for many of the movie greats. His lamp for Elizabeth Hall is a circle of light held up by a flying golden cupid. All of this loveliness rests on a floor of gardenia colored Amtico marble tile!
The main lounge of Elizabeth Hall has a modern glass wall overlooking Lake Virginia. This feature might discourage the traditional decorator from attempting to give it a Spanish effect. Jeannette McKean "resurrected" an enormous rosewood settee with rolling baroque lines and had it covered in a yellow textile threaded with gold. It is reminiscent of a Spanish palace.
Balancing this massive piece is another one of almost the same proportions with 19th century classic columns for arms. This piece, too, was more or less of an eyesore in another part of the campus, but refinished and recovered in a fabric reminiscent of the glories of Spain the whole effect is one of "noninstitutional" magnificence.
What has Mrs. McKean combined with these resurrected pieces? Authentic Spanish tables given in years past to the College, beautiful Gothic pieces, also given to the College in years past. Along one wall is a massive Spanish refectory table from a 16th century Spanish monastery. On these tables stand some of the most beautiful of contemporary lamps, one in gold leaf covered leather, several in pale greens and russet browns.
What are the basic colors in these rooms? In the entrance hall the walls are blue-green with a pale green ceiling. In the large lounge leading off the entrance way the walls are blue-green and the ceiling is lime. If this color scheme may sound a little familiar to those studying contemporary decorating, it is the highly touted fall "discovery" of the professional decorators. Mrs. McKean worked out her color scheme last spring!
What would the average decorator do with a paint can, five glass insulators from a telephone pole, the trunk of a cocus plumosa, some two-inch oak planking from an old building, and a Japanese lantern or two? The McKeans (and in these decisions Mr. McKean's opinion was predominant) made a light fixture out of the paint can and the insulators. They made a massive divider out of the three sections of the tree trunk. (One of the English teachers on the faculty remarked that the divider looked as though it would be here in the next civilization.) Mr. McKean designed a card table out of the planking. They used the Japanese lanterns for light fixtures, and the result is a playroom of undeniable charm decorated for a total not exceeding $75.