The Cville Design House: Pick the house

Some people do not like the idea of a design house. I think the committee behind the 2010 Charlottesville Design House encountered these people when they searched for last year's home. When the 2010 house sold by the end of the week (to a friend of mine, I might add) after languishing on the market for a year, I think people realized what a fantastic opportunity a design house is for the right home.

The 2011 Charlottesville Design House options were plentiful. In fact, they were so numerous that it took a little while to narrow down the options. I decided to share a few of the details to see what you'd pick if you were part of the committee.

*Note: The photos used here are not from Charlottesville. They are not homes considered. They have the same general feel of some of the homes that were on the list of possibilities.

1. New Construction Luxury Home

The first options were new construction homes on the outskirts of town. Some people had never heard of the neighborhoods where these homes were located, but were intrigued that these were large, expensive homes. The rooms were open and light filled. An added bonus was that these homes were empty, so designers could go in at any time and get to work. The draw back was that they were already on the market, something that hurt the famous Kips Bay Show House last year. The Kips Bay house was sold out from under the design house organizers and the event had to be postponed.

I personally thought a new construction home wouldn't be all that fun for the designers. Last year's home was a design challenge and the designers did a beautiful job making it feel less like a puzzle and more like a home. Would the big, square rooms of a new construction home just looked staged if it was the design house? Would it inspire creativity?

2. Established Home in a Gated Community

The older, stately homes in the exclusive, sometimes gated communities were outside of town. While visitors would have to drive a bit to get the Design House, curiosity about the neighborhoods might bring a crowd. The homes were older, with architectural interest. They were also pretty large and would allow for many designers to participate (each designer gets a room, so the more rooms, the better).

I liked the idea of the home in an older, established or gated community. I thought the designers would have fun and the size would allow for a lot of variety for the visitors. Logistics would be a bit of an issue, though. Visitors would have to park outside the communities and be driven by shuttle. The same was true for the 2010 design house.

3. The Farm

The farm homes were about 20 minutes outside of town, usually on quiet, sometimes private, roads. They were large and sometimes quirky. Some rooms were large and some small. There were no neighborhoods around these, so people might not know exactly where to find them without directions, but that also meant neighbors wouldn't be disturbed by visitor traffic.

I liked the idea of the farm house a lot. The different sizes of rooms would allow different sorts of designers to participate. Established designers could take larger rooms and "up and coming" designers could opt for smaller spaces to fit their resources. While there was no neighborhood to draw people in, the general area had a few shops/cafes/businesses (trying not to be too specific here) that might be good partners for the homes (visitors might being business to those spots and they, in turn, might send regulars to see the house).

What house would you pick?

Keep in mind that there were many more options than those I presented, but I've condensed the similar houses into groups. As I noted above, the photos are not from any real homes in the Charlottesville area.


  1. I'd be most interested to go if it were an older, more quirky, home like the farmhouse. But that's just me. It seems so many of these events happen in either new construction or something similar.

  2. I would chose the farm house. I'm a big fan of lodgy-log-farm kind of houses. I can imagine it being funished with big leather sofas, some turquoise thrown in there in form of paintings, pillows and vases. Sunflowers everywhere and a lot of wood. A snoring dog on the front porch. PErfect!

    That's the kind of house I want to have when I grow up. Or can afford it. Whatever comes first.

  3. I think a design showhouse needs to be conveniently located to encourage high visitation, and be a space challenging enough for those participating in the event to bring the house to its maximum potential without getting cornered into a particular style. I thought last year's house was a terrific choice!

  4. I'm not really familiar with the design house thing. Who goes to see it? Is it for anyone or is it more of a place for designers to showcase to buyers?

    Personally, for something I'd want to see for ideas and such, I'd choose the farm house. I think it would relate to my own house better. I think I'd be a little intimidated and probably less interested to go to see designers in the other two types of houses. The location (it being away from town) would me make it feel more relaxing and less congested. Plus, I agree with you on the different size rooms allowing for different types of designers.

  5. I would definitely opt for the older, established home. While I grew up on a farm, I guess I feel I've seen enough farmhouses. Those big, enchanting old homes in secluded neighbourhoods intrigue me much more!

    I had no idea what a Design House was when I started reading.. but I think I got it figured out. Do the Designers make an agreement with the homeowner or do they actually buy it for their showcase?

  6. Definitely the Established home in the gated community. Having been through numerous Designer Show Houses, the 2nd option seems to have the most space. More rooms, more designers! I love touring and volunteering as a docent at Show Houses. FUN! FUN! FUN!

  7. Being that I eventually want to live in one of the said farmhouses, I vote farm!

  8. the farm! take advantage of the gorgeous countryside around here!


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