Behind the Scenes of a Holiday Designer Showhouse

Happy New Year everyone!
This will not become a habit of posting twice in a week, but I totally forgot to tell you about my room at the 2013 Christmas at Callanwolde Designer Showhouse in Atlanta. I have a few hours in between watching college football bowl games and preparing my oldest son, Michael, his birthday dinner of Veal Parmesan and Chocolate Lava cake. (Yes, I have a New Years day baby but also a Christmas day baby too. This is a very busy holiday season in my house.)

How do designers get involved with designer showhouses across the country?

We are invited by a committee by invitation only to preview the showhouse at least 6 months prior to the opening day of the showhouse.  Which can be difficult for area interior designers if  the committee doesn’t know you or the committee has a seniority list of designers who have previously done the show house.
Seniority list of A- list designers can really put a damper on all the local designers. A showhouse is done for a charity and as with all charity’s, they want to make money from the showhouse, so A-list designers are invited first, (sometimes its a phone call or schmoozing that gets the designer to do a room) and then its the pecking order(seniority) for the rest of the interior designers.
What happens after you preview the showhouse?
For some showhouses, we have to submit design boards for at least 3 different rooms because the committee will decide which design and designer get to do certain rooms. Or seniority (A-list) determines who is doing what room. (For all the non seniority designers invited, just be happy to do a closet, show houses are good for your resume and reputation!)
If you are notified to do the show house (which in a designer’s world is like getting accepted to Harvard) just realize you will be spending a lot of money doing the room, but this should be part of your marketing budget.
Then you start talking to all the showrooms and get them involved with your room. Some will give furnishings on consignment, some will make you pay for the furnishings. (Showrooms who lend you the furniture are your new best friends.)
One- three months prior to the opening:
The committee will need your bio, your list of furniture to be sold, furniture not for sale, your insurance, and your deposit to do the room (didn’t I say it would cost you money).
Also figure in the cost to be included in the directory or ad journal, (money),any electrical, installations, deliveries, carpentry, painting, or plumbing to be done at your expense (mo’ money) and finally you get to load in day (move in day).
Below-My room before: The room was the music room for the Howard Candler family 1920-1959. (Coca-Cola family) It is currently used as a conference room for the Callanwolde fine arts center during the year.
Music Room
Load in Day: As seen below, the room is empty and ready for my furnishings.
I invited 7 design students from the Art Institute of Atlanta: (Ellen Le, Kristin Geeter, Brittanie Davis, Natoya Bowen, Maribeth Bell, Stephanie Clautier, and Erika Ellis) to assist me with my room.
I also invited 2 interior designers as part of my team:
Lindsey Maxwell of Maximum Designs and Kimberly Cater Hogan of Red Key Interior Designs.
They were  all incredible!
After shot of my room courtesy of Nicole Goodness of Goodness Studio.
My room’s theme was “Dazzling Blue Christmas.” My colors were pulled from the 1980’s hand painted silk toile wallpaper. The walls were left bare because the wallpaper and the architectural detail in the room were my focal points, therefore no art. I am known for my Sophisticated Simplicity Designs, “less is more” design approach. I do not believe in over decorating a room,  just creating quiet elegance to fit my client’s lifestyle.

Sweet story behind the artificial LED trees and the LED lights in the photo:
A gentleman had brought his 88 year old mother in-law to the designer showhouse but she has macular degeneration in her eyes and cannot see regular lights on trees until she walked into my room. She was amazed she could enjoy my trees and the big tree. The man was so happy for her that he purchased the little LED tree as a surprise gift for her. Designers; take note, this is Universal Design decorating for the Holidays 101. 

More photos that I took (my New Year’s Resolution-learn to take quality photos!) and the secrets in the photo:

Secret #1: The console above is actually a bed tray table on wheels. See below. Just thought it was a fun piece and added a little “bling” to my room.

Bed tray table at the foot of the bed

Secret #2 Which is also a DIY tip: For the fireplace mantle I used the cheap artificial evergreen garland as my anchor for real evergreens and berries. The wiry branches were wrapped around the real branches to hold everything on. One lady who visited my room wished she hadn’t sold her artificial swags at her garage sale! All the live greenery came from the Callanwolde estate which needs to be pointed out.
Poinsettias grouped together fill up the fire box.

Callanwolde is open during the year for weddings and other events. On one Saturday afternoon during the showhouse, a wedding was going to be held at Callanwolde. I invited the groomsmen into my room because I loved the whole Scottish kilt look. Don’t you?


Preview Party left to right- Lindsey Maxwell of Capel Rugs, Kimberly Cater Hogan, and Cassie Maleski of Pasha Home Fashions

See you at my next designer showhouse!!


I hope you’re living your best life now and that age is just a number to you too! I would love to hear from you!
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