My Last Show House

I parked my Jeep in the First Congregational Church parking lot in Kittery Point, Maine.  I walked across the road and took a picture to memorialize my visit.

Then I said to myself “this is the last BLEEP show house I’m going to visit.  Ever.”

There is a lot that goes on “behind the scenes” at decorator show houses and that’s probably one reason why I’m addicted to visiting them.  Watch me like a hawk in a show house because I’m that person who is looking very closely at the drapery detailing and turning over the edges of carpets to examine the knots.  Posting signs that say “do not touch” and “no photography” is a charming challenge to me; I must know how that window treatment is attached to the molding.  I may not “touch” the draperies, but I’ll get uncomfortably close to them.

If a volunteer is staffing a room, I’ll strike up a conversation with them until one of two things happens:

a)       The volunteer realizes they’ve neglected their staffing duties and they quickly excuse themselves from the room to attend to other visitors or,

b)      I tell them I’m a designer and “would you mind if I took a picture of that teeny tiny corner of the floor treatment?”

Not everyone likes show houses.  There is a subtle theatricality to them which reminds me that gallons of Farrow & Ball paint won’t cover up the dust and ugliness of living.  Stunning window treatments and piles of fluffy pillow don’t say much on lonely winter evenings, either.

Still, there is a lot that goes on at a decorator show house.  There is a lot that goes on “behind the scenes” at this blog, too.  One unseen feature is that I act as the “moderator” to the comments.  Some bloggers allow comments to post automatically.  This leads to spam showing up in the comments; some bloggers like spam comments because it creates an illusion of higher reader volume.  I prefer not to post faux comments from gel nail polish spam bots which say things like “highly energetic blog.  I enjoyed it a lot.  Will there be a part 2?”

Part 2?  La, this is part 22 of my show house habit.

After visiting the set of this summer’s Museums of Old York’s 24th Annual Decorator Show House, I’m once again inspired to examine my furniture, my window treatments, my wall hangings, and my show house addiction.  Can I kick the habit altogether or can I moderate my fascination with such inspirations of loveliness?  Will I finally make peace with my own shabby interiors?  Can some other type of house replace my voyeuristic desire to walk into a stage set for an hour or two once a summer?  If there is such a house, where is it and what does it look like?

I have a few thoughts.

The Museums of Old York’s Designer 24th Annual Show House runs from now until August 15, 2013 at 2 Lawrence Lane, Kittery Point, Maine.  The house is open every day except Tuesday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. On Sundays, the hours are from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. For more information, click here.  Tickets are (still) $20.

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7 Responses to My Last Show House

  1. Bill says:

    Excellent post! I can’t wait to see the conclusion.

  2. Barbie D. says:

    Fabulous! Those colors look wonderful!

  3. Mary Conant says:

    As usual you have a very well written post meaning two things; 1) your writing technique is wonderful and 2) your subject is quite interesting. I will take the subject first, “decorator show houses”, whereby these exhibits that you visit are staged and temporary, I assure you as a real estate agent these types of homes do exist in real life. Some homes are magnificently decorated so much so that they make you want to take up and live in them. Similar to a lovely photograph or painting that makes you want to be part of it for the surroundings as well as the solitude. Now for the quality of your writing, I am always wanting more not meaning that you haven’t finished but because I never want it to end. Keep up the good work. I see a book in the near future from you.

    • Mary,

      I’ll admit, I’m a little conflicted about the “staged” aspects of a show house, but many of the designers tell me they work diligently to create a room that is “real” and “ready for living.” Your comment confirms that such places exist outside of the designer’s imagination.

      Ha, ha, yes, there might be a book out there, somewhere over the rainbow, Aunty Em!

      Thanks for visiting!

  4. yblacker says:

    This post made me laugh, Julie-Ann! I was one of the Secret Cove designers for this year’s York Show House and can appreciate your need to “look behind the curtain” as they say. I was always that person, too! For me, a show house is an opportunity to be a bit more theatrical than typical design projects allow, which is why I chose a silver snakeskin leather floor for one room and designed a mermaid tail shower curtain for another. A show house is as much about quality craftsmanship as it is about sheer imagination. Anything is possible … even if we have to use double sided tape to get our design ideas to stick! Thanks for stopping by the show and for sharing your thoughts!

    • Hi Yvonne,

      I enjoyed your contributions to Secret Cove this year, especially the magic you worked in those little baths. The Farrow & Ball paper in the “Petite Powder Room” was charming and elegant. “Anything is possible…even if we have to use double sided tape to get our design ideas to stick!” Wonderful…I see you are “committed” the the Holiday Designer Showhouse in Danvers, December 1 – 15. Perhaps Secret Cove wasn’t my last Show House!

      Thank you for stopping by the blog and carry on in your journey of optimistic renovation and creating beauty. Someone has to do it!

      • yblacker says:

        Yes, please visit me in Danvers at Glen Magna Farms this December — I will let you look “up close” and even take pictures! The property – a wedding and event venue – is in great need of a new ball gown, and we designers are ready with our magic wands!

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