Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Showhouse Preferences? Pushing Boundaries or Playing it Safer

There have been alot of posts recently about showhouses in DC and other cities and it has me wondering about about the classic debate:

Should a showhouse be a cohesive presentation of beautiful but somewhat predictable design or should it push the boundaries and go for the wow factor, even if the rooms don't flow? When it comes to the wow factor, where do you draw the line between unique and innovative and too edgy and impractical?

Considering the expense, in today's economy it's understandable why designers may choose to create rooms that potential clients can relate to. In fact, some people prefer the showhouse that's not too far from what they could imagine in their own home. But, when is it that too conventional?

I think this 2009 Hamptons Designer Showhouse sitting room designed by Ellen Hamilton Design pushes the boundaries of safe in very successful and exciting way. The large scale Osborn and Little wallpaper by Suzy Hoodless is matched with the strong colors of the upholstery, carpet and drapes for a very exhuberant and committed look.
(First image via Emily Evans Eerdman, second and third image via The Smoking Nun, photographer unknown)
For me, this dining room designed by Marshall Watson, is pushed past beautiful to fascinating by the seagrass shades dripping with illuminated glass balls, the black outdoor lantern sconces, the oversized wire urns and the tobacco glazed and stenciled walls. Chair slipcovers are embroidered with guest names and even the uber-wide edging on the carpet strays from the trend for a narrow band.

So , if you were forced to make a choice between only two options, which one would you prefer:

(1) the wow factor, even if it means some impractical design and rooms that don't flow together
or
(2) beautiful design, even if it means more predicatable rooms with few surprises


If you fondly remember a designer showhouse room that achieved a great balance between the wow factor and relatable design, please mention it in your comment or leave a link. I'm curious to hear what you think...


For a complete virtual tour of the 2009 Hamptons Designer Showhouse by Edge MediaRE go here.

27 comments:

bluehydrangea said...

I want the wow factor!! Anybody can do safe, I think show houses should show creativity and imagination. I want to see rooms with personality!! Love the two rooms you posted!!

Kim@Chattafabulous said...

Wow factor. Show houses should raise the bar from what you see in everyday showrooms and catalogs. Enjoyed my visit - great photos!

pve design said...

I think Wow factor has me every time.
It is like falling in love or giving birth. No matter what, quirks and all, you know you are going to love it.
pve

Southern Aspirations said...

for a show house, I think wow factor too. Love to see the creativity and be able to pick up a few "wild" elements to use in my home.

That said, I always love to see a beautifully styled home and how a designer makes rooms flow together yet have their own personality. But I'm not sure that's easy to do in a show house.

Simply Luxurious said...

I would have to say, a classic look would be my choice. While I love a home that has shocking effect, some amazing ideas can be used to create a luxurious classic design.

Susie @ Maddie's Nest said...

I think I go for more classic with some unexpected "wow" added in. I know people often go to these showhouses with an eye for finding a designer they can imagine working with on their own home. But, just my opinion.

Scott Fazzini said...

I vote for the over-the-top "WOW" factor! It's so easy to see safe and beautiful designs. II feel that show houses should be a chance to experience new ideas, materials, applications, etc. Now, having said that I'll admit that I absolutely love seeing a gorgeously sedate show house too. ... guess I didn't really answer the question!

MzMannerz said...

I think a showhouse room should showcase whatever the designer does best. If that's edgy eclectic, then so be it... if it's muted elegance, that's fine, too. A showhouse should be about introducing the viewer to varying styles and different designers. I'd hope the organizers would select a mix of designers in this regard and not worry about rooms flowing, since it's a showhouse and not someone's home.

LindsB said...

If pushing the boundaries is what this is, then I love it!!! What talent it takes to put all those different colors, patterns and textures together- I love these rooms!

vicki archer said...

Wow factor every time because this is what will make me think and take note. It is the unusual that fires the creative side...even if it is only one small detail - that can inspire a new thought or direction. xv

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I adore the wallpaper here! I might have changed up some of the other elements in rooms, but I suppose you'd find me squarely in the WOW camp.

The Down East Dilettante said...

Wow factor or safe, what really matters is the quality of design. Wow for Wow's sake with nothing behind it isn't worth the effort.

That said, I still vote for Wow. Show houses definitely need more edge. They've gotten terribly about the cute, the expensive, or the already trendy in recent years. Open the windows and get a broom going.

Ellen Hamilton said...

Thanks all for your encouraging comments. I enjoyed doing this room as if it were for me and decided with a little help from my friends to go for it.

katiedid said...

Absolutely push that envelope!!!!!! We see "pretty" all the time. This is one opportunity to wake us up and get us thinking in new ways. This is a designer's chance to do things however they wish....I say go for it!

Debby Lee said...

Love the wow factor!

The Zhush said...

I like to see a flow in the house, I want to be able to picture it as a functioning home, and not just a series of showrooms...that said, ideally it would be a house full of wow that all flowed. As I recall, last year's Hamptons show house accomplished (for me) just that!

Reynolds Still said...

Talk about color! Wish I were brave enough to splash some of that around. As always, wonderful images and post MNH!

Best regards,
Reynolds Still

www.reynoldsstill.blogspot.com

Jeannine @ Small and Chic said...

Wow me, big time!

I still remember a room in a Kips Bay Show House back in 2005 because the color choice was so "out there" compared to the rest of the house and the art was larger than life.

I want inspiration. I'll figure out how to adapt the big ideas for my space and budget.

Suzanne said...

I'm definitely for the wow factor in showhouses. It's like runway shows in fashion--they are styled for impact, not for everyday. Save the safe design for your clients and pull out all you've got for the showhouses.

Jeanette {A Passion for Home} said...

I want both. :-) It is nice to see something on a realistic level but it is also fun to see spaces that go beyond that. More artistic freedom. It can be very inspiring too.

Leah Moss said...

Michele-I seriously just sat down to write a post about the same thing for Apartment Therapy!

I think the space itself plays a role. I've heard that this year's DC design house is supposed to be left in move in condition since it is on the market. AS a result the wall treatments and more permanent fixtures are more subdued. Many other DC showhouses (and I expect elsewhere too) have had similar restrictions which must influence the final product. A home on the market is supposed to be appealing in the livable sense, right?

In cases like this, showhouses are still nice b/c, like a designer's own home, it's a chance to witness the uninhibited vision of the designer since there is no paying client making the final calls.

Aesthetic Oiseau said...

I love to see the wow factor! It's fun to see design that pushes the limits with new and fresh thinking and then absorb bits and pieces to use for my own taste/home.

Lila said...

I think those were totally well designed rooms for a show house even though they did tend to push the boundaries. My style is definitely more safe and that's what I'm drawn to. However, those really were fascinating rooms!
Lila Ferraro
Queen Bedroom Sets

Renee Finberg said...

i want the wow factor every time.

i love the examples you have shown.
this was an excellent post.
thank you xx

VictoriaArt said...

I am so for pushing the envelope further and for some new and perhaps debatable design! Everything else has been done before and a showhouse should be exciting and ground breaking!
This and nothing else is what I hope to see!
LOve the first room, I am in love with the wallpaper!

XX
Victoria

My Notting Hill said...

Thanks for all these comments everyone. Looks like many people lean toward the wow factor. Leah - great point about certain showhouses that need to be in a good position to be sold afterwards.

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