Palo Alto Weekly

Real Estate - April 27, 2012

A fresh look

Decorator showcase home tours: a mixed blessing

by Kit Davey

The designer showcase season is approaching. I have mixed feelings whenever I go on one of these tours. As I traipse through each stunningly appointed room, feelings of inspiration and awe mingle with those of irritation and incredulity.

First, the inspiration ...

Ideas you can use in your own home — The transformation by designers, contractors and suppliers is amazing. Visitors admire and critique the creative efforts while providing thousands for worthy causes. The $30 you spend is worth it if you come away with at least one idea or the name of a product or service provider you can use.

I always take a sketch pad on my visits to capture creative ideas I can use in my own home (photography is usually not permitted). I look for clever, inexpensive and easy-to-implement ideas. Some of my favorites from the past:

* In the bath, a Zen-like arrangement of river pebbles placed on the top of the commode and vanity

* In the bedroom, a simple window treatment employing a thick bamboo pole as a curtain rod and yards of cheesecloth wrapped and draped around it as a soft valance

* In the entry, a huge, bushy flower arrangement in a large, clear glass vase filled with fresh lemons, a few with green leaves still attached. The lemons anchor the flower stems and add a blast of yellow.

* In a hallway, a row of equal-sized color photographs, all matted and framed in white. My eye went to the beauty of each image, rather than to the frame, and their regularity gave the hall a peaceful, gallery-like look.

Let me tell you about irritating ... I love touring a showcased home, but there are a few things I find, well, ummm, irritating:

* An average home is rarely showcased: It's usually a huge estate in a ritzy neighborhood. Ninety-eight percent of us couldn't afford to buy such a home, much less furnish it. How about a tour of three-bedroom, two-bath homes, fully furnished and decorated for $10,000 or less? I think people would stampede to see frugally, yet creatively decorated ordinary homes.

* Most of the living rooms are filled with over-scaled furnishings, upholstered in white. The people who live in these homes must not have children or a dog. Some of the couches are so big, they wouldn't fit into my living room with a shoe horn. Most end tables and coffee tables are so crowded with delicate-looking knick-knacks that there's no place to put a coffee cup.

* The window treatments, the window treatments! Big, voluminous, fancy-dancy. Scarlet O'Hara would love to make a dress out of some of these window treatments.

* I think I'd get bad dreams if I had to live in a room with all four walls and the ceiling painted bright red, or dark pink, or orange yellow.

* Some of the exotic flower arrangements are so large they require a room of their own. My estimate of the cost of one particularly stunning display was $250.

* I wish I had a whole room set aside to use as a closet. Wouldn't it be nice?

What: San Francisco Decorator Showcase 2012

Where: 2020 Jackson St., San Francisco

When: April 28-May 28 (closed Mondays)

Tickets: $30 ($25 for seniors, 60 and older); benefits Financial Aid Program of San Francisco University High School

Info: www.decoratorshowcase.org or call 415-447-5830

Kit Davey, Allied Member, ASID, specializes in re-design, staging, design consulting and professional organizing. Email her at KitDavey@aol.com, call her at 650-367-7370, or visit her website at www.AFreshLook.net.

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