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DC Design House 2016: Heavens Above

September 29, 2016

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DECORATOR SHOW HOUSES are generally a mish-mash of visual ideas. Sometimes the decorated rooms play nicely with one another, sometimes not. And often there’s what I’ve come to call a Rosemary’s Baby Room; the original, in a DC show house decades ago, featured a bassinet topped with a fussy purple fluffed and beribboned canopy and more than a hint of something sinister. But the Rosemary’s Baby Room can be any room that contains something that just makes you stop, stare and think, Why?

I’m happy to report that DC Design House 2016 harbors no such horrors. But the 21 spaces did give off a few messages that suggested some telepathy at work:

  • Look up! The ceiling is likely to be painted with an interesting color or finish, or covered with wallpaper to bring a hint of pattern to the room below. And in a house with very high ceilings, the paint or paper helps to bring the room down to human proportions.
  • Grab a drink! Half a dozen of the rooms contained a bar cart, or a drinks table, or a liquor setup inside a closet. It makes sense in a house that was clearly constructed to throw parties and lots of ’em.
  • And someone please communicate with the departed Italian artist Piero Fornasetti! Sir, your “Theme and Variations” decorative wall plates—the black-and-white line drawing of a woman’s face, wearing eyeglasses or with her eyes crossed or tongue sticking out—kept popping up, including Variation No. 181, the woman enclosed in a diver’s helmet.

LittleBird Kathy and I had fun cruising the 11,000-plus-square-foot manse on Foxhall Road NW, chatting with some of the designers and meeting up with former colleagues (hi, Jura Koncius of the Washington Post!)

In all, we had a nice time of it, and you can too. The house opens for general admission ($35) on Sunday, October 2, 2016, and runs through October 30. Hours are Tuesday through Friday 10am to 3pm, Saturday and Sunday noon to 5pm. In addition to the rooms, where virtually every item is for sale(!), there will be boutiques featuring clothing as well as home goods. The October 1 preview of the house costs $60 and includes refreshments, noon to 4pm.

Ticket sales and a portion of boutique revenue benefit Children’s National Health System. Go to the DC Design House site for more information.

—Nancy McKeon

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