All design involves the art of compromise. At 4,500 square feet, the 1930s Colonial Revival Tandy home is smaller than the usual 5,000-square-foot minimum for a Tulsa Designer Showcase home. That said, it offers just as much bang for your buck as any. The objective of how to showcase the creativity and talent of 27 designers within the square footage is in and of itself a challenge for Designer Coordinator Michael Beard and Showcase Coordinator Paula Dellavedova.
"We send out invitations to local designers and invite them to look at the house, and then they bid on the room they want," Dellavedova said. "We ask them for their top three choices of the rooms they'd like to do, and then we assign them. There's a lot of logistics. Then they furnish and paint, and we open it up, and that's how we raise money for the Foundation for Tulsa Schools."
Further complicating the logistics of who gets to decorate which room is the challenge of striking a balance between housing the unique vision of each designer under one roof and still allowing for a harmonious blend of spaces that work together to create a cohesive single home as opposed to a multitude of designer "booths." A designer showcase isn't just a showcase of local designers, home resources and suppliers, it is a lesson in problem solving, innovation, cooperation and compromise. No space is wasted nor overlooked. Every corner and nook is maximized to its full potential.
Designer Erin Harp found the challenge of maximizing a nook and thus, a design opportunity when designing the first impression of the home: the entry, vestibule and staircase.
"At one point in time, the entry was where someone would sit and wait for a guest to arrive or to be picked up for a date," she said. "I wanted to recreate that feeling of an inviting gathering place for anticipating and greeting an arrival. It has lovely windows that let the outside in, so I wanted to maximize that aesthetic with pretty outdoor-inspired wallpaper and then a bold, fun color for the staircase wall. I'd describe the entry as 'happy, happy, happy,' and that's a nice emotion to experience when walking into a home."
Designer Pam Scott shared Harp's preference for color in her concept for the utility room deemed the "Hub of the House."
"I wanted to give a personality to a room that is otherwise a very ordinary and utilitarian room. I played off of the established foundational gray palette of the home by painting the existing cabinetry gray but utilizing the wall covering and fabrics to add that pop of exciting color," Scott said. This space is off the kitchen so why not make it a multi-functional space? By eliminating the refrigerator, I was able to extend the counter and create a desk in that space instead. Now the room not only serves as extra kitchen storage and laundry space, it can be used as an office as well."
Pam Cooper of Designing Woman found opportunity for something unique and yet still functional in a tucked-away attic space on the second floor. A room that might otherwise be used for storage has been transformed into a comforting hideaway under Cooper's touch.
"I like to try to find a unique room that poses some challenges," the designer said. "The attic is a small space with unusual proportions, but I think that lends itself to a cozy and relaxing space to play a game or simply sit and read and enjoy a glass of wine."
Designer Barbara Henk found her own share of imperfections when evaluating the second floor pullman bath. Named for the small bathrooms found in train cars in the 1920s and 1930s, the pullman bath in the showcase home makes up in streamlined sophistication what it lacks in floor space. A Chicago native herself, Henk welcomed the opportunity to design a period appropriate space.
"I really like to do sleek and modern design because of my Chicago heritage. The room had some design challenges," she said. "The white tile on the walls is original, so I worked with the varying shades by painting the walls gray to provide some contrast and work with the grout.
Another challenge she faced involved visible plumbing under the sink.
"I was able to camouflage those by adding a small, round, white-and-chrome stool in front of the sink. Little solutions like that make a big impact on the overall look of the room," Henk said.
She shared a couple of secrets for a maximum effect in an otherwise very functional space.
"I decided to go with a historic theme that matched the architecture of the house. The concept can be exhibited down to the very last detail, for instance the hand towels that I chose for the space. The shapes on the towels mimic the squares of the floor and wall tile and the linear pattern picks up the vertical lines in the cabinet fronts," she said.
In the small bathroom, she chose to leave the window uncovered in order to maximize light.
"In this space, I maximized the window by floating a round mirror with a nickel and chrome frame. This allowed me to incorporate the circle pattern and metal finishes used elsewhere in the room and provide some privacy without covering the window and compromising the natural light. The use of the mirror has created also served to create a dramatic focal point," Henk said.
This year's showcase home offers many ideas and inspirations and a multitude of design lessons can be found, all under one roof. As you take your personal tour of each room, don't forget to take note of the details.
The 40th Annual Designer Showcase is located at 2723 S. Birmingham Place. The home is open Thursday, May 16 from 10am-4pm and 5-8pm, Friday and Saturday from 10am-4pm, and its last day Sunday, May 19 from 12-4pm. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Advance tickets can be purchased at various Tulsa stores, including, Williams Sonoma, Windsor Market, and others. A full list, as well as more information on the event as a whole, can be found at tulsadesignershowcase.com. Ticket sales go to benefit the Foundation for Tulsa Schools.
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