Diary of a Show House Designer: The Preview
I've been itching to write a follow-up to my post on the upcoming Junior League of Boston Show House, debuting in October. I previewed the site, a stately Mansard Roof Victorian, in the beginning of June, submitted room proposals on June 27th, and have been anxiously awaiting word on which room, if any, I'll be chosen to design. I now know which room I'll be doing. BUT I can't reveal it until all of the participating designers have been notified. You'll just have to tune in later to find out. Today, I'll start to clue you in on which rooms tempted me.
When I previewed the site, I was overwhelmed. There were 42 potential spaces up for grabs. Some as grand as the Living Room and Dining Room; others as diminutive as a closet. As I said earlier, my mantra for participating in the Show House is Go Big or Go Home, so I was unprepared for the design challenges some of the big rooms posed. For example, the Dining Room has original dark wood wainscoting and tapestry to the ceiling. All of which has to be preserved. The Living Room is a chapel owing to the site's former life as a convent. I have to say, it was hard for me to see past the altar. Certain restrictions on what we could do to the site--like having to preserve the natural woodwork, stained glass windows, fireplaces, and tile floors--limited my options and vision. I continued my walk-through, waiting for the right space to speak to me.
Then I saw it. It was a three-season porch at the rear of the house. Wall-to-wall 8-over-12 windows. Original glazing on the ceiling that slid open to the sky. Radiating ceiling beams. Gorgeous vintage pendants. I was smitten.
But dollar signs clouded my view. The woodwork was not in great shape. Refinishing would be a fortune; a sunk cost that would only showcase the original architecture, not my design. My vision: tent the ceiling. If I shrouded the room in fabric, I wouldn't have to refinish the wood. Now the fabric. I had a preppy palette in mind. The tiled floors and outdoor views had me thinking primaries--red, yellow, blue--and kelly green for that touch of prep. For the ceiling, I had to find a fabric with an airy, open pattern. A concentrated repeat wouldn't work. I found the perfect fabric: Schumacher's Khantau Tree. All of my primaries and a huge repeat.
As I started working on the design, my enthusiasm waned. All that fabric ($$$$$). And how could I cover that ceiling? Also, not a lot of options for furniture plans. And the furniture I was leaning to just didn't reflect my style. I realized I was drawn to the room for its architecture, and that would dwarf any design I imposed. I needed more of a blank canvas and this just wasn't the right choice.
Next up: My Proposals.