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Diary of a Show House Designer: Hurry Up and Wait

It's August. That time of year when you want to relish whatever's left of summer. And that's what I've been trying to do. Up to a point.

You may have noticed that I haven't posted to the blog in a couple of weeks. (By the way, I'm grateful to whoever's been reading it because the numbers have been great!) I've been trying to balance enjoying sultry summer evenings and lazy weekends, while lining up my ducks for the Show House during marathon work days. It's a delicate balancing act.

Since I last posted in my Diary of a Show House Designer, here's what I've been up to. At the end of July, I focused on lining up my materials. Contacting suppliers, fabricators, installers and showroom managers, I verified the quantities I'll need of the materials I pitched in my Show House proposal, made sure there is stock, and then laid it on the line for some favorable pricing. Bless you, Schumacher. Because a lot of my materials are Schumacher's and recognizable as such, they are giving me fantastic pricing.

I've had several meetings with my contractor to go over built-in designs. The house is a Second Empire Victorian and my space is on the third floor. That means I have to contend with a dormer and odd roof angles due to the period-specific Mansard roof. My solution to this architectural quirkiness is to hide these odd angles with built-ins. My concept is all about creating a home hideaway for the woman of the house. It's all about achieving balance and equilibrium, so the odd angles have to go. I had a number in my head that I was willing to front for the built-ins. Unlike furniture that I can try to sell to recoup my upfront costs, the built-ins remain fixtures in the space. Hence, sunk costs. Brainstorming with my contractor, we came up with a plan that would keep the design intact but allow me to stay at or below my magic number. I can't reveal our plan now. Maybe later, say . . . after Show House.

What's keeping me up at night is the furniture in the space. I only have three pieces: a day bed, a desk and a desk chair. Simple, you'd think? NOT. My day bed can't be too big so that its proportions suit the intimate scale of my space. I found a perfectly-scaled piece that I pitched in my room proposal. Turns out it can't be fabricated in time. So I'm having it custom made. But my upholsterer, who vouched that he could turn the job around in time, is giving me cause to worry that that indeed may not be the case.

As for the desk, I found a great piece online, perfectly scaled and in stock. But when I saw a color sample, it wasn't right. Now I'm waiting to find out if the vendor can make it in another material in time to meet my deadline. And I'm still waiting.

I've scouted dozens of desk chairs. The chair really isn't an important statement in the design. In fact, it has to be rather understated given where it is situated compositionally. But the material and finish of the chair hinges on the finish of the desk, and until I know what the desk material is, I can't finalize the chair. So I wait some more.

My mother reminded me that after the last Show House I did, I said I wouldn't do another. I dismissed saying that. Now I think maybe I did. I hope my anxiety is quelled enough to allow me to write another entry in this diary. Stay tuned.