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Area Designers Help NSO Fund-Raiser

Local designers are participating in the National Symphony Orchestra Decorators Show House 2003 fund-raiser.

The Women’s Committee for the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) held its annual Bare Bones Days this past weekend, the first event of the annual NSO Decorators Show House fund-raiser.

The Show House is the principal fund-raiser of the Women's Committee and has raised more than $7 million for the NSO since the group’s inception in 1973.

“We sent invitations out to designers around the D.C. area,” said Teresa Paul, media consultant for the Women’s Committee. “They then come and take a walk-through and bid on the rooms they would like to renovate.”

This year’s selection for the Show House is the Susan F. Clark house, an 11,500-square-foot residence in the Sheridan-Kalorama district of Washington, D.C. The home, located at 2126 Wyoming Ave. N.W., was built in 1907 by Appleton P. Clark Jr., a well-known architect of the time. The Flemish-style home has 29 rooms, including seven fireplaces, and a carriage house. Since its construction, the home has been both privately owned and leased to various educational institutions.

During this past weekend’s Bare Bones Days, the public had the opportunity to tour the house and property and see design plans of the interior and landscape before the renovation phase begins.

With the Bare Bones Days over, the designers now have six weeks to transform their respective rooms. Three local designers are among those taking part in this year's event, James Hawes of McLean, Lois Kennedy of Vienna, and Leslie Dawley of McLean.

Hawes, president and owner of the McLean based Caldwell-Beebe Interiors, is in command of the home’s music room. Hawes has big plans for the small room, including installing a large, custom, eight-panel screen covering one wall and facing one of the home’s many fireplaces with mica bricks. The room will also house a baby grand piano during the Show House days.

One thing that surprised first-time participant Hawes was the lack of decorative chaos and clashing among the designers’ collective plans for the house.

“There wasn’t really any communication between [the designers and decorators],” Hawes said. “But we attended a reception recently and saw each other’s display boards, and it looked as though one person had designed it all. Everything flows extraordinarily well from room to room.”

Kitchen designer Kennedy of Portfolio Kitchens said the new plans will bear little resemblance to the original kitchen space.

“The house was of a Flemish style, which lends itself nicely to a kind of Spanish Mediterranean feel that I’m going for,” Kennedy said.

The completed interior of the house will be on display to the public from Sept. 30 through Nov. 2. During those Show House Days, the participating designers are also required to have items for sale to the public.

Kennedy plans to have kitchen accessories available, while Hawes plans on selling some unique pieces of furniture including ottomans and sofas as well as pieces of art.

“Just about everything that’s not screwed down will be on sale,” Kennedy said. “And there’s not much that’s bolted down.” The house itself will also be on sale during the Show House Days for $8 million.

According to Paul, everyone benefits from participating in the Show House.

“We have national design magazines that come cover the event,” she said. “Designers will really get their names out there.”

“For [designers], it’s great exposure to about 35,000 people that walk through the house,” Hawes said. “We really get to show an audience what we can do. It gives them a good sense of design resources in the community.”

“It helps give people ideas for their own home,” added Kennedy. “It also helps the NSO, which a lot of people don’t realize that it needs the money to support itself. It’s very prestigious in many ways to have been invited to do this.”