Historic home, custom visions

As the Decorator Show House, an 1818 manor displays the work of 25 designers.

September 23, 2005|By Sandy Alexander | Sandy Alexander,sun reporter

For several designers at Historic Ellicott City Inc.'s 21st Decorator Show House, inspiration began with one item and grew to encompass a room.

Carroll Frey and Todd Evans started designing their show house bedroom with a 1920s French bed.

Jessica Barwick and Elizabeth Choi began with beach-themed fabrics in the sun room.

Joan Paik first chose a Hepplewhite sofa from 1900 in a vibrant shade of American beauty red for the parlor.

This year, 25 designers set their imaginations loose at Longwood, a historic manor house in Glenwood, for Historic Ellicott City Inc.'s fundraiser. Furniture, art, window treatments, rugs and details, such as photographs, books and toys, were assembled in bedrooms, bathrooms, porches, foyers, landings and an attic garret.

The show house is open for tours tomorrow through Oct. 23.

Longwood, on Route 97, dates to 1818, when it was built by Dr. Gustavus Warfield, a prominent Howard County physician.

His office was in a small building beside the main house. Because patients sometimes stayed overnight there, it has been called the county's first hospital.

The Georgian stone house has been expanded and updated over the years. In 1997, it was sold by the Goldsmith family, who raised thoroughbred race horses on rolling pastures, to Al Smith, owner of Walnut Spring Nursery.

Smith's son, Burkeley Smith, who works in the family business, proposed to his wife, Kimberly, at the house. At the time, it was empty and in need of repair, but he filled it with candles and music from a portable stereo.

Burkeley Smith has led construction efforts for the past two months, and learned from experts how to plaster, install drywall and handle other construction tasks.

"Many repairs were made to the house," said Frey, an interior designer from Baltimore who is the event's design chairman.

The rooms are spacious and the ceilings are high, he said, so "it was a real joy to work [there]."

Burkeley and Kimberly Smith will move from their Ellicott City home to Longwood in November. Kimberly said, "It will be very much a family house ... for the whole family to enjoy."

As with previous show houses, the Smiths will keep the paint, wallpaper and other items that cannot be removed, and they have the first opportunity to buy any decorative items used.

Most other elements will be available for sale to visitors.

Because Historic Ellicott City focuses its show house event on historic homes in the county, the designs tend to be traditional with some eclectic notes, Frey said.

Compared with other show house events, the historic theme "is unique for HEC," he said. "I think that is a plus for us."

The master bedroom, which Frey designed with Deerfield Designs of Ellicott City, incorporates several modern paintings and sculpture with more antique-style furniture. He said it is as if the owner of the house were an art collector who had family furnishings from past generations.

The inspiration began with the bed: a wide, square, wooden structure that the designers faux-finished with an antique-looking white coating.

The room also uses soft, relaxing blues on the walls, white linen chairs and touches of terra cotta in the rug and pillows to add warmth.

A petite red brocade couch set the tone for the parlor, designed by Paik, of Gallery 44 in Ellicott City. Black chairs with gold polka dots and red cord trim also complement the color scheme, along with champagne-colored window treatments.

Oil, acrylic and watercolor paintings help enliven the room.

"I am a person who likes to work with color," Paik said.

A cabana-inspired striped fabric was the starting point for Barwick and Choi, of Barwick Interiors in Highland. The two also found a fabric for the pillows embroidered with flip-flops; sisal area rugs; woven wood shades and lounge chairs.

They chose the sun room as a manageable space for their first show house, Barwick said.

She added: "We were trying to capture the beach."

Not every room started with a single piece.

Sharon Tarlton, who specializes in custom wall designs as owner of Finishing Touches Etc., was thinking about what a boy in the 1800s would like when she decided on a theme of pirates and sailing ships.

Her boy's bedroom has a mural of a ship sailing on clouds over a moonlit sea. Half the room is decorated with pirate toys and an overflowing treasure chest; the other half has a neat blanket, maps and a sailor's foot locker.

Tarlton said she has been busy "extending the horizons a few miles" in people's homes by adding murals to the walls.

Designers from Roos Kitchens and Bath Designs Studio and Ellicott Interiors -- both in Ellicott City -- listened to the owners when they suggested yellow walls and the feeling of a sky in the two-story-tall kitchen.

The designers painted the ceiling and the top of the wall a pale aqua, added molding and carried the theme of birds through the space with art and bird cages on a shelf.

A granite-topped island, huge pendant lights and cabinets finished in white with chocolate-colored trim completed the look.

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