Friday, September 27, 2013

Decorating a show house is like being in labor...the mind forgets pain

This is why I say it's like being in labor; one forgets how much work there is then, when the hard work is done and the room is finished, we are happy that we did it. But it's that in between time...thank goodness the people who are part of it are so fun to work with. Yes there are arguments, hurt feelings, butting of heads, drama, and definitely glitches. This year I only had glitches to deal with; one big one, one long term but I'll take it. I'm really good (knock wood) at staying under the radar when it comes to drama-I steer way around it and run into the bushes at the first sign of it. 

Can you find Waldo here? Yeah, I'm near the bottom. My mom kept asking me about the LLC's. I finally engaged her about it telling her what it is, Limited Liability Corp., an extra $800 tax that Maryland charges to cover your hinnie in case of a lawsuit. Turns out she'd been concerned that I didn't have that after my business name because she thought it was a sign of design professional certification. She was much relieved that I wasn't lacking. That's Mom...big picture. 
This is the "before" of the house, the day Karen, Jody, and I went to look at the house. Funny how badly they wanted me to go with them then said no way would they wanted to do a room again but they'd happily support me. I was weak; I'd just had a huge project pulled out from under me and really needed a substitute one. And they were true to their words; they were great support.
And this is the grand lady, Mount Ida, last night at the private opening.
And here I am last night at the private gala opening. There is an expensive dinner that comes with a preview of the house and the decorators are in our rooms to greet guests, give information, and answer questions. We had several dignitaries including Maryland Senator and Mrs. Allen Kittleman who were very gracious and complimentary. We had an appearance by a governor and his wife a few years ago but the Senator and his wife actually looked at the rooms, asked questions, and spent some time with each decorator.
Okay, back to the beginning. The Governess Quarters. This is what the room looked like when I first saw it. I love toile so I was happy to work with what had been left at the last show house hosted there 25 years ago. There was some damage to the wallpaper near the windows but I had a great plan to work with it and save time and money by not having to remove it and paint. I spent the first couple of weeks after finding out that I'd gotten the room to decorate buying samples and curtains, and etc. to use in the room. I had a great plan.
Another view of the before.
Here's a good day; when the design chair okays the design board for the room. Not proud of this board; I have made some really beautiful ones in the past but I was lagging on the deadline. Here's a bad day; a couple of days after this photo was taken I got a very sheepish email from the co-chair saying there was a slight problem with my room. The workers who were repairing wall damage in the house accidentally removed the wallpaper from my walls. And, as the photos showed, they didn't take it all the way off of any one wall, they took a couple of strips off of all the walls; none could be saved. My first thought was game over. I was already feeling a bit overwhelmed; while this is the 7th show house I've been involved in this was my first on my own and was feeling the full weight of being completely responsible for this on my own (even though I had Jody and Karen helping and supporting me all the way). Jody, speaking in my language, told me right away to hold on to my saddle Cowgirl so I did. And the HEC (Historic Ellicott City) wanted to make it right for me by letting pick any paint color and getting help for me to paint the room so I decided to hang in there.
Having three sons and having lived with five males at the same time for a while made it easy to decide on a new color scheme. I've wanted to decorate a room in pink forever and here was my chance. Here are my color and fabric choices. Thankfully I had been looking around for ideas and merchandise when I was in NYC in July and had seen the curtains I got that are now discontinued. They ended up being the inspiration for the whole room. Okay, so there are many things that did go right.
This is one of my two show house work dresses. Yes, dresses. Dresses are much cooler to work in when there's no ac while doing the "dirty work"- painting, etc. It's a historic dress that I can look at and identify which color was which show house. I actually had my photo in the Baltimore newspaper in the other one one year, not on purpose, bad timing. Painting ceilings are no fun but good for upper body strength. I'm a painting beast; give me any room and I can knock it out in a day. Being a "low rent" decorator means I get to have fun with the "paid help" who can be a lot more fun than their employers...good, loud music and some clowning around.
This is what we call a "good sign". Ladder up against the wall-finished with the painting. Next up, hauling all the furniture up the stairs. Again, Jody and Karen to help, thankfully. A turned stairwell makes for, umm, challenging haulage.
 And now Voila!, the end result. Here's starting at the entrance and moving around the room. 
 Two wing back chairs flanking a mantle with a faux painted fire insert. In front is a table where the governess relaxes after a long day of taking care of the children of the home. She can entertain a friend with either tea or (shelf on the bottom of the table) wine. (She's young and fun and fictional.)

 You can click on any photo and see it larger but one of my favorite finds for the room is the blind in between the curtains. It has a great vintage-style graphic painted on it. I'm always the one who adds the funk to the show house. I'm considered way wacky in this conservative group. Happy to make it my job. 
I got many items from a favorite place to shop in my hometown of Bryan, Texas, Bryan Marketplace while there in July so I could bring them back in my truck. Others small things I made myself. 

 A view so you can see the side chair where I used the curtain fabric with a coordinating silk plaid.
 This is an original Doojie design that I first used at the first show house that Janine and I decorated many years ago-a clock as a chandelier medallion. I've gotten lots of compliments on it. And the stunning chandelier that Janine restored looks great in the room.
Better look at both sides of the side chair.
 This bookcase was offered for me to use by HEC. It was in the storage area and all I had to do was paint it and can you say merchandising? The deal is that the decorators purchase all the items to put in the rooms then all are for sale during the month that the house is open to the public. The house gets a percentage that goes to HEC for their foundation, the rest to the decorator. The thing I figured out while decorating the first one I did is that having a lot of small items, not just big ticket furniture items in the room makes it much easier to make money. Since this is my main paying gig for the year it's important to me. I'm more of a retail business owner and artist than a decorator as the others designers are.
This is my long term issue; my page in the show house program. The tiny problem here is they put someone else's credits on the bottom. Mine turned up nowhere in the book. Oops. They usually have us proof our pages but not this year. Had to apologize to the folks I had thanked in my credits but, after printing 8,000, HEC didn't think I was worthy of a complete reprint. Huh.
Another "before" area in the home...
...and the "after" last night. Saturday I start working in the sales office sharing shifts with one other woman during the month where all the merchandise sales are transacted.  I'm happy with how it turned out so far and honored to be part of this all in the realm of first world life.