It’s fitting that the Columbus Museum of Arts Women’s Board Decorators’ Show House is returning to Bexley this year.
Bexley was home to the first Decorators’ Show House in 1975, and 2013 marks the 20th Show House since the fundraiser’s inception, says Show House Chairwoman Subha Lembach.
The biennial Decorator’s Show House is the Women’s Board’s signature event and brings about two dozen of central Ohio’s best designers together, each redecorating a room or space within the home.
“(It) allows them to showcase their abilities by transforming a home, and the homes are usually these really amazing historic homes throughout central Ohio,” Lembach says.
Show organizers seek a home that has a good “flow” for visitors to wander through – two staircases is ideal, Lembach says. New Albany Realty helped the organizers locate a house that fit the bill.
This year’s house, located at 21 S. Parkview Ave. in Bexley, was built in 1922 and is more than 7,200 square feet in size. A variety of prominent central Ohio residents have lived in the home over the years – including Robert H. Schottenstein, president of M/I Homes and chairman of The Ohio State University Board of Trustees. Schottenstein and his family commissioned a major renovation of the home in the late 1990s.
The front door opens into an entryway with steps leading up to a hall, off of which is the study. The study walls are covered with built-in bookshelves of dark wood, so designer Rick Sherman of German Village-based R. Sherman Design Ltd. was limited to making minor changes.
“It had a dark feeling with the wood walls and floor. It was such a stark juxtaposition (with the white ceiling),” Sherman says. “All you saw was brown and white. You couldn’t see the richness of the wood.”
To warm up the room, Sherman painted the ceiling red, which brought out the warmth in the wood. A red, woven, sumac-style rug with gold trees echoes the color of the ceiling.
“I’m working with the bookshelves with accessories and bringing in art,” Sherman says.
A large oil painting in bright, cheerful tones by local artist Carol Stewart now hangs over the fireplace, and the room is accented by art glass from Hawk Galleries.
Up the home’s main staircase is a large bedroom suite decorated by John Wilson of Italian Village-based Creations CRI Interiors.
“My idea was to create a modern-day English bedroom, incorporating a lot of luxury items,” Wilson says.
A standout feature is the gold-painted ceiling with an antiqued finish. The room also includes many different textures – imported English wool on a wall and a desk, stainless steel furniture, and metallic, crocodile-embossed leather on a chair.
“We’re creating a room with a modern-day collector in mind,” Wilson says. “There’s a lot of photography and a lot of twists on traditional accessories like a lucite antler. The idea is to create a really luxurious space and to give a nod to the European influence that the house has.”
Photos of Georgia O’Keeffe are tacked casually in an alcove next to a chair, and a large print of Wilson’s dogs by Al Laus of photography company Poindexter hangs over the fireplace in the corner.
The adjacent bathroom is decorated in parlor style, the walls plastered with items designed to look like family mementoes.
“(They’re) things that speak to the owner of years of travel,” Wilson says.
As soon as she saw the master closet, Kellie Toole of Gahanna-based Kellie Toole Interior Design Ltd. knew it was the room she wanted to design.
“I turned the corner and saw the master closet, and the clouds parted and the angels started signing,” Toole says. “It was love at first sight.”
The closet, which is large enough to be a bedroom, has ample storage – both hanging and drawers – along the walls, but also featured a massive island in the center of the room. Toole temporarily removed the island with the help of Custom Classic Renovations. Inspired by a novel she was reading for her book club, she decided to transform the room into a sort of vintage clothing shop – a “closet slash sewing room,” she says. A 9’ by 12’ hand-knotted, vegetable-dyed rug on the floor from Nica's Rugs and Decor sets the colors for the room.
“For the color palette, I’ve kept it pretty light and feminine: yellows, coral tones and also some grey,” Toole says.
A mannequin displays an elegant, vintage wedding gown. Both that and the clothes in the closet are pieces from The Alley, a vintage clothing shop in the Dublin area.
Outside, each of the three patio areas was furnished by Fortin Ironworks, located in the Grandview Heights area, and this is the first year in several years that owner Bob Fortin himself has been involved with selecting the items to showcase, with help from Fortin’s in-house interior designer, Janet Axene.
A semi-enclosed sitting area is outfitted with several fountains, and the large reflecting pond outside the dining room features a metal masterpiece – a mermaid sculpture surrounded by floating glass balls.
The company also crafted two large trellises and installed two 8-foot lava flame heaters.
“They have 8-foot-tall flames enclosed within these heaters that will be flanking each side of the gazebo, which will have a large swing inside,” Fortin says.
The outdoor furniture will be Summer Classics brand, a designer outdoor line that’s popular in the South, Fortin says.
“Summer Classics allows the consumer to pick and choose the colors and the trim and the embroidery,” he says. “You can create some amazing combinations of fabrics.”
The Decorators’ Show House kicks off with a preview party from 6-9 p.m. April 20. Tours are held April 23-May 12, from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Fridays through Sundays. Tour tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door.
“Over the years, the Show House has raised well over $3.5 million for the Columbus Museum of Art,” Lembach says.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.columbusmuseum.org/dsh.