Philanthropist Lois Pope in her newly renovated kitchen in Manalapan
From drab to fab, philanthropist Lois Pope takes her kitchen reno to a new shade of fun.
Known as the nation’s foremost advocate for disabled veterans, local philanthropist Lois Pope has dedicated her life to serving others and improving the lives of the vulnerable in our society by designing initiatives to not only meet their needs but also to bring joy. So when she decided to renovate her kitchen at her Manalapan home, she took a similar approach by designing a space with such a distinct pop of color that her guests couldn’t help but exude happiness during her weekly game nights. “When I bought this house a decade ago, I re-designed all the rooms except one: the kitchen. Th is was fine because, truthfully, I spent very little time there,” says Pope, adding that she began hosting a weekly game night for her friends aft er the pandemic. “It was so much fun that it’s became a regular event, and still is to this day, so that’s what inspired me to redo my kitchen. It was drab and mundane. I wanted the room where we were having so much fun to reflect that feeling of happiness.”
Lois Pope chose bright colors in her kitchen to inspire her guests to find joy
“I WANTED IT TO POP FOR MY FRIENDS AND FOR THEM TO IMMEDIATELY KNOW THAT THIS KITCHEN IS WHERE FUN HAPPENS!” –LOIS POPE
Pope had a head start when she began the project because she knew she wanted to incorporate floors from her friend Karen Fleming, who she describes as her “right-hand for nearly 30 years with a terrific eye.” Her priorities were fairly straightforward, so she took the lead as a designer on the project based on her extensive experience with design and color. She had designed numerous covers and pages as an art director for her late husband’s publication, the National Enquirer, so she knew what would set the scene and grab attention. “I wanted it to pop for my friends and for them to immediately know that this kitchen is where fun happens!” says Pope. “So, my priorities were fairly simple. First, I wanted to make a useful, lively room so that when my friends gathered for game night, they could make their drinks and get something to eat from the center island buffet before sitting down and playing. Equally important, I wanted it to be colorful.”
As guests enter the kitchen, they are greeted by a stunning mosaic door depicting the king of diamonds and the queen of hearts. Then the colors of lemon yellow, radish red, and mint green playfully adorn the ceiling, doors and accent walls. Pope finished the room with artwork that she purchased in Santa Fe. She spends each summer at her home in Snowmass, Colo., so she was able to draw in some of those Western vibes. “I loved this project, and the team had just as much fun working on it. I think they came in and left smiling each and every day,” says Pope. “The entire make-over was so rewarding. Just watching my vision become a reality; I couldn’t ask for anything more. It is as beautiful and as happy a space as I envisioned.”
Bringing joy to others is Pope’s lifelong calling. From lobbying Congress to create a national day of support and gratitude to disabled American veterans to establishing the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial in Washington, DC and countless other initiatives like funding documentaries that support veterans, championing numerous programs that honor military service dogs, and establishing an incredible list of foundations that have provided medical research, humanitarian relief, scholarships for children, support for the performing arts and so much more, Pope has a heart for those in need. “Although I grew up post- Depression, and come from very humble beginnings, I’ve been very fortunate in my life. I’m blessed with a terrific family, fabulous friends, a bevy of dogs and cats, and financial success,” says Pope. “All this is wonderful. But what makes my life even more meaningful is that I can share my time, energy, and resources with those less fortunate, to give voice to the voiceless, strength to the most vulnerable through my philanthropy.”
Whether it’s through her work in service to others or opening her home to her friends for a weekly dose of fun, Pope is always thinking about how to inspire those around her.
Photography by: PHOTOGRAPHED BY CAPEHART