Show and tell This year's Symphony Decorators' Show House features fantasy motifs and inexpensive solutions to decorating problems.

April 13, 1997|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,SUN STAFF

Although nobody talks about it much, established designers often don't take part in area show houses. Nobody is paying them to sponge paint those walls, lay down carpeting and create elaborate window treatments. If they don't need the advertising, why bother?

Of course, some "name" designers do undertake rooms in the Symphony Decorators' Show House -- because it's the area's premier show house, or because they like the creative freedom, or because they want to support the charity. But Wynddon Estate, this year's show house, which opens next Sunday, continues the trend of recent years: Many of the rooms have been decorated by relatively unknown designers, design students and artisans.

There is something to be said for this:

Visitors to the symphony show house who need a decorator may discover new talent.

In decorating their show-house rooms, less established designers look for solutions that don't involve spending enormous amounts of money on expensive fabrics and furnishings. And their solutions may therefore be more useful to those of us who don't have enormous amounts of money.

Their designs may simply be more fun. (Check out the boy's bathroom in this year's symphony show house. Wallcapers used the sloped roof line to create the illusion that the visitor is in a dollhouse with an enormous boy and a cat looking in.)

You may not find as many lush rooms laden with costly antiques in this year's house. But if you want to see a number of creative ways to hide an air-conditioning unit (the owner didn't want them removed from the windows), this is the place for you.

The place is an elegant stone mansion off Jarrettsville Pike, built almost 70 years ago for Mary and William G. Baker Jr. (of Ferris, Baker & Watts). The current owner is Richard Klotzman, the rock-concert promoter and convicted tax evader. According to publicity liaison Susan Button, Klotzman was going to sell the house after the event; but now, perhaps because of its new look, he's planning to move back in.

More rooms than usual

Visitors will get more house for the price of admission than usual. Wynddon Estate has more rooms than past symphony show houses, with 38 designed areas. (That includes halls and such.)

Many were empty or piled high with junk when designers first saw them. Where did they start?

"I find something first that gives me an idea," says Donna Foertsch of DLF Design Associates, who decorated the first-floor morning room. It's a small room, but with a ceiling 11 feet high, she felt it needed lots of color.

The "something" she started with was a designer wallpaper covered with fruit in jewel tones. The draperies are made of matching fabric, and the fruit motif is picked up in the pattern of the Williamsburg china. Two paintings, one of a patisserie and one of a cafe, continue the dining motif.

The most frequent problem decorators had to deal with was dark rooms. You'll find many different solutions. In the mother-in-law's room, for instance, Pearl Foy of Decorating & Design Services in Ellicott City painted the walls a pale green and filled the room with flowery fabrics and pastel colors.

Gilded radiator

Can't figure out what to do with unsightly radiators? One designer gilded a bathroom radiator, while another created trompe l'oeil chests to cover them.

Not everything in this year's symphony show house will instruct or delight. There are even more murals and trompe l'oeil windows and painted wall decorations than usual -- more than there should be, in fact. Some of them are charming, but visitors will probably be more interested in what designers are doing with fabrics and furnishings to create a wonderful room.

In spite of the lively spirit and practical ideas of many of the designed areas, every show house needs at least one elegant room that is simply for oohing and aahing over. In Wynddon Estate, the most obvious example is the grand salon.

Because of its large scale and marble fireplace, Joyce Griffith of Papier Interior & Design decided to create a very formal room for entertaining, with Aubusson rugs and three conversation areas. The furniture, a mix of Louis XV and 18th-century English, is upholstered in silks and brocades. The color palette is soothing and refined.

"It's a beautifully proportioned room that presented no real problems," says Griffith. "We decided to go all the way with it."

Symphony Decorators' Show House

Where: Wynddon Estate, Phoenix

When: April 20-May 18; Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.; closed Mondays

Admission: $10; $12 at the door

Information: There is no parking at the house. Shuttle buses will leave as necessary from the north end of the Caldor parking lot in the Ridgley Plaza (the ride takes 12 minutes). The house is not wheelchair accessible. Children under age 10 will not be admitted.

Call: 410-337-0629 or the show house, 410-308-2111

Pub Date: 4/13/97

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.