The name Decorators' Show House is generally associated with a fund-raising project for a charity organization where a house is donated (acquired, borrowed, offered), redecorated and open to the public for viewing. The organization's committee selects numerous designers to participate in the redesign of the rooms in that house. Often the interior designers are required to conform to the architecture of the house and respect the time period, while other committees give the designers carte blanche for design. After a short period of time, the interior designers have transformed a slightly "loved" house into a showcase. That showcase is open to the public to make money for the charity.

Interior designers and decorators are the primary participants in the show house. The occasional landscape architect is also invited as well. Depending on the prestige and geography of the show house, the list of participants can read like a Who's Who of the design industry. Generally many designers vie for the opportunity to be chosen to participate. Room selection is often given to the biggest names in design. Once the designers solidify the concept, they pull in all of their top resources. Because of the extreme cost to the designer and their firm, they often showcase (and reveal) their best vendors, craftsmen, and resources who participate at a reduced or nominal cost. (It is for charity!) However, the exposure is enormous for the designers, and the press coverage is high. Many potential clients walk through these show houses to get an idea of which of the designers might fit their needs. (I once saw Oprah canvassing Kips Bay for ideas and a designer.)

These events are held around the country. Check our calendar continuously for updates. The most prominent events are in the bigger cities like New York, Washington, San Francisco, Atlanta, Philadelphia, etc.However,Pasadena has one of the best, and prestigious communities like Greenwich and Darien, Connecticut, put together some pretty spectacular events. Some of the show houses like Kips Bay in New York and the NSO in Washington, D.C. are more than 25 years old and very worth marking on your calendar as must-do events.

The show houses are generally presented in the spring. However, clever fund-raising committees are now staggering these events throughout the year. The annual events are scheduled in the same general time frame (look at our calendar of last year's events to make travel plans for next year). The show houses are generally open for about one month. Once the show house closes, the charity organization immediately begins the search for the next year's property.

These Decorators' Show Houses arefundraising events but are also a prestigious way for the local and often national design community to show off their latest visions and trends in interior design. Designers spend tremendous amounts of their own money and time to create a finished space that exudes their talent and capabilities. With such compressed time schedules and great expense, it is really an undertaking for any designer to pull off remarkable results. Oh, but they do!

Once the location is chosen, the charity committeeinvites designers to visit the house and submit a request for a room and a concept for that room. Through a private (and often very political) selection process, a designer is assigned a room. Once the rooms are assigned, the designers go to work. Generally the designers have about six weeks from selection time to the opening to the public. The houses are then opened up for house tours to the public, for a fee. Additionally, there are often auctions of the contents of some of the rooms, preview galas, raffles, great programs, and business cards galore to pick up. The proceeds go to the charity, usually with great results.


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