The BSA Decorator’s Show House is a WRAP! / by Paula Henry

For the past two months, I have written about this year’s Baltimore Symphony Associates Decorator’s Show House.  The house was open from April 30 through May 21 and toured by thousands of people.  Many enjoyed a nice afternoon with friends conspiring over the latest design trends; others shopped the house for home décor steals while some actively sought to hire a Designer.   The closing day was May 21, 2017 so it is officially a wrap.

There were scores of people, each one with a specific job to do, who worked behind the scenes to put on this show house.  Everyone worked tirelessly for the Grand Finale that was Mayfair, this year’s Symphony Decorator’s Show House.  For my part, I was one of the Designers selected to design a room and would like to share some reflections on what has been “my life” for the past four months.

When I toured Mayfair in February, I was hoping a room on the first floor would speak to me and one did.  Designers were required to submit a design board that painted a picture of what they envisioned.  Boards were to include a floor plan, sample fabrics, pictures of furniture, window treatment design and other components.  This in itself is a tremendous amount of work and my efforts paid off.  I was thrilled to have been selected over other talented designers, and was awarded the Living Room which I called “Noteworthy.”           



One of the first orders of business was to secure a Baby Grand Piano (hence the name of my room,) and the main furniture pieces, most of which were tentatively selected in conjunction with my design board preparation.  Jordan Kitt’s Music generously loaned me a beautiful player piano and Shofer’s Furniture stepped up, not only to loan me furniture, but worked with four other designers as well.  They delivered three full truckloads of furniture to the show house!  I also relied on several other vendors and trades to bring my vision to reality.

I designed an architectural detail for the ceiling and looked to Summerhill Cabinets to make custom moldings.  Newport Builder’s installed the moldings, creating an immediate “wow factor” even before JT Custom Painting put the first stroke of paint on it.  Ceilings are often overlooked but they can play an integral part in the design of a room.  This feature was a huge hit and what I call “the cherry on top.”

Thanks are also owed to Next Day Blinds for the motorized window shades, Alex Cooper Rugs who loaned me a beautiful rug and Renaissance Fine Art Gallery provided two key pieces of art.  Another piece of art was privately commissioned and custom made by Jeanne Petrowsky.  I had quite a team behind me but don’t let that minimize the commitment designing a show house room entails. The hours are countless, the work is hard (physically and emotionally,) the expenses add up quickly (not everything can be borrowed or donated,) and we have to overcome obstacles…fast.  After all, we are on a very strict deadline called Show House Opening Day!

Ironically, one of the first obstacles all of us had to deal with was a late winter/early spring snowfall.  We have a very short window of time to complete work (painting and such) that often involves scheduling of contractors, etc. so a three day snow delay is not part of the plan.

When furniture and other merchandise are being loaned to the designers, we understand that a sale trumps holding anything for our use in the show house.  This means sitting on pins and needles waiting for the call to tell us something has sold or is no longer available and we have to reselect.  My first heart stopping moment occurred when the piano I was going to borrow was sold and Jordan Kitt’s was scrambling at the 11th hour for a replacement.  I try not to shudder when I have to go to “plan B” but when you consider what a “key” element the piano was in my room, this was a BIG deal.  There were plenty other “plan B’s.”  My first choice rug sold as did the painting I had drooled over and planned as a feature piece above the fireplace.  This was less than a week before move-in day.  Off to the gallery I went.  I chose replacement artwork but the piece by Petrowski found it’s home over the fireplace.  My dream window treatment fabric was a budget buster but I was very happy with the “plan B” fabric until my workroom called a few days before scheduled delivery to tell me there was a flaw in the fabric.  Little else matters…now I have to drop everything to deal with this.  Fortunately, crisis averted and replacement fabric was overnighted and the window treatments arrived in time.

We “moved” into the house the week of April 17th and scurried to complete our merchandise inventories in time for the first private party on April 23rd.  After a bit over a month of greeting visitors and talking up our rooms, it was time to deconstruct our designs, pack up sold merchandise and move out the rest.  Needless to say, I think everyone involved was ready to relax on Memorial Weekend.

This endeavor is not for the faint of heart but it is for a good cause.  For the Baltimore Symphony Associates, the show house is their largest fund raiser and benefits their educational programs.  For the designers, there are many rewards including the appreciation for our effort and work, but most of all, being hired to help change lives by enhancing homes through design.

Watch out for a post about our SUPER SPECIAL POP UP SALE! It will be your last chance to purchase some of the great items I curated for the show house at SUPER SPECIAL POP UP SALE PRICING!