Yes, I admit it. I have a love-hate relationship with designer show houses. I love the idea of being able to stroll through grand houses decorated by a dozen different designers, but I'm often left disappointed with their efforts. So, this past June, I stood outside of an impressive Greenwich house and took a deep breath. It was press day at the Merrywood Show House and the start of a full season of gawking for me. For the next few weeks my days would be spent strolling through show houses, kitchen tours and gardens in hopes of discovering new talent and being inspired by their interpretation of design.
Over the years I have visited hundreds of these show houses, some of them brilliant and some a snore. Most are a mix of moments of genius amidst a great deal of the ordinary. Part of the problem is that design is personal, and this is never more apparent than in a designer show house. Some designers create formula rooms that will guarantee future business, but I find that boring. Fortunately, others experiment and push their talents (and you can see some stellar examples in this issue). The only client here is the designer and the dialogue he or she creates with the space.
Years ago, working as a stylist, I was asked to participate in a show house. It was an exhausting yet exhilarating experience.