Enalee Bounds, owner of Ellicott Interiors in Ellicott City, filled her room at her 20th decorator show house with antique and reproduction furniture, sewing implements, cooking utensils and children's toys to create a "keeping room" in the style of the late 1700s.
Three stories above, Jane Duvall and Stacia Smith - who started their Ellicott City company, The Designing Divas, three months ago - decorated a teenage girl's bedroom with black-and-white polka dot accents, a picture of the ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz and funky lamps, tables and knick knacks.
As Historic Ellicott City Inc. holds its 20th show house Sunday through Oct. 31, visitors will see traditional and modern approaches to home decor in 15 rooms throughout Font Hill Manor in Ellicott City.
The house, which has sections that were built in the 1700s, 1800s and 1900s, was offered to the show house organizers when renovations on their original choice in Ilchester could not be completed in time.
Fortunately, Font Hill was in very good condition, allowing the house to be prepared in less than three months, said Janet Kusterer, executive director of Historic Ellicott City Inc. "It's really beautiful. It's full of history. It's been on our wish list for years."
The owners, Tim and Sue Welsh, moved most of their belongings out of the house so the decorating teams could take over. They plan to sell the house after the event.
Designers will sell or reclaim anything that can be easily moved, but the more permanent fixtures, such as paint, wallpaper and a new gutter system, will remain.
As visitors tour the home, they will see "many rooms have held with the traditional theme of the house," said Susan R. Haug, the show house chairwoman. "But each room takes on a little different feel."
The dining room, for example, is a formal space designed to keep with the history of the house. Sue Welsh, who is a designer, and Frederike Hecht, owner of Frederike's Designs in Columbia, made use of a few pieces that were in the house, including a large oval walnut dining table and a three-door walnut bookcase, both from the late 19th century.
A gold-framed mirror, gold-trimmed vintage china and gold window shades with red flowers and green vines add to the atmosphere.
The drawing room, however, "is a mix of contemporary and traditional," said designer Rick Weinkam, of Sebastian's Home Decor in Glenelg. It has chocolate-colored walls, a large silver-colored mirror over the fireplace and a suede couch with silver accents on the pillows alongside less modern items such as a grand piano, a curio cabinet and a large oil landscape painting.
Historic Ellicott City Inc. began 30 years ago after flooding from Tropical Storm Agnes inspired community members to try to save local historic structures.
Today, the organization oversees the B&O Railroad Station museum, a heritage orientation center and several other structures. It also puts up interpretive signs in Ellicott City.
In 1984, after years of raising funds through country fairs and auctions, group members realized they needed a better way to make money, said Bounds, one of the organization's past presidents.
"I got the idea of a show house because we have a lot of historic homes in Ellicott City," she said.
Recent show houses have drawn more than 6,000 visitors and raised about $60,000, said Kusterer. In addition to the tours, the houses have offered catered meals for sale, shopping boutiques and a chance to buy pieces on display in the rooms.
Bounds said that when the event was new, she called upon antiques dealers like herself to participate. "It worked out very well, because they really are period-conscious," Bounds said.
Today, she said, a committee approves designs during the application process. Some participants still focus on history, while others take the opportunity to show visitors what is new and modern.
People "want to see the latest and greatest in the show house," said Patricia D. Filas, a kitchen designer with Revisions Remodeling Showroom in Ellicott City. She supervised improvements to the show house's kitchen, including a new cream-and-green backsplash and a multicolored marble countertop.
Michele Drury, of Drury Lane Interiors in Woodstock, worked with Filas to create the kitchen's English tavern look. Pewter mugs and plates fill a small bar area in one corner, and a life-sized picture of an English Bulldog - similar to Drury's departed pet Winston - decorates the refrigerator.
The show house "keeps us in the public's eye," Drury said. "We're able to show how we deal with our challenges and to introduce new products and looks."
The decorator show house is at 9900 Timberknoll Lane in Ellicott City. Tours cost $15 at the door or $12 in advance. The house is not handicapped accessible, is not open to children ages 10 and younger and is closed Mondays. For hours and information: 410-461-6908, or www.hecinc.org.