Mark Your Calendar for The Baltimore Symphony Associates Decorator's Show House / by Paula Henry

If you are one of the thousands of locals who look forward to the Baltimore Symphony Associates Decorator Show House, mark your calendar for the Grand Opening on April 30th!  This year marks the 40th Anniversary of the show house and it will not disappoint.

Touring the show house is an opportunity to enjoy interior design splendor up close and personal rather than from the pages of a magazine or a computer screen.  Designers try to “man their rooms” as much as possible so they can share tid-bits and answer questions about their designs.  It is the questions I have been asked by so many guests over the years that inspired me to write this article. 

Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions and answers:

Q:  Who owns the house?

A:  It varies from year to year, but most are private individuals.  Lots of scouting is done to secure a house which is leased for the duration of the show house.

Q:  Who determines which designers will participate and which rooms they will design?

A:  A Design Committee does a blind selection based on their review of Design Boards.  After touring the house, designers are required to submit a Design Board with floor plans, photos of furniture and samples of fabrics, wall treatments and other goodies.  The designer ID is hidden on the back of the board to ensure a blind selection.

Q:  Are items in the house for sale?

A:  Yes!  There is a binder in each room with a sale sheet.  Simply identify the item you are interested in buying by the numbered tag, and look it up on the sales sheet.  You can pay for your purchase at the Decorator Sales table and pick it up on designated dates after the show house has closed.

Q:  Do the homeowners get to keep anything?

A:  The homeowners enjoy the repairs and updates that are made such as wall repairs and wall finishes.  Just as guests can purchase items from each room, so may the homeowners.

Q:  Who pays for all this?

A:  The entire expense of designing a room is borne by each designer.   This includes everything from wall repair and painting to furnishing the room.  Many of us rely of our vendors to donate time and materials as well as furniture but we are ultimately responsible for all costs. 

Q:  Are you (the designer) for hire:

A:  Yes!  Participating in a show house is a major expense and for many of us, it is where we spend a large part of our marketing budget.  Aside from being a part of a wonderful fund raising event, it puts us in front of potential clients and we would like nothing more than to be hired for design projects.

Q:  What kind of time-lines do you work with?

A:  Here is an example of this year’s schedule:

o   January 30, 31 & February 6 & 7:  Designer Walk Throughs

o   February 21:  Design Boards due. 

o   February 23:  Designers notified if their designs and room requests are awarded.

o   March 7:  Dirty work (repairs, paint, paper hanging, etc.) begins

o   April 17:  Move in week and room inventories due

o   April 23:  Private parties begin

o   April 30:  Grand Opening

o   May 21:  Closing Day

o   May 22:  Move Out week (includes bagging & tagging sold merchandise)

Putting on a show house truly takes a village.  It is a symphony of moving parts and dedicated volunteers who come together for a common cause.  For the BSA Decorator’s Show House, the children’s program is the beneficiary of this fund raiser.  As a designer, my ultimate reward is being hired by visitors for help in their own homes! 

I have been selected to design the Living Room and am honored to be part of the village.  I hope you will love the transformation.  Be sure to say hello when you visit.

The Show House is located in Lutherville, Md.  21093.  To purchase advance tickets, please visit