40 Rooms for 40 Years of Bellarmine Show Houses

Contributing Writer

For its 40th Bellarmine Designer’s Show House, the University Women’s Council decided to divide this year’s 7,000 square feet of show house into 40 different spaces.

This year’s home is The Anchorage, a magnificent 145-year-old Gothic Revival mansion on 19 acres off of Evergreen Road. That meant gabled roofs, high ceilings, tall windows, beautiful woodwork and moldings, plank floors and interesting interior spaces that seem to go on forever.

But the home – whose tenants have included riverboat captain James Goslee, author George Madden Martin and Edward Dorsey Hobbs (for whom the city of Anchorage had originally been named, when it was Hobbs Station) – had been empty and in disrepair for some time.

So the designers also found walls damaged, floors cracked and ceilings stripped to the lathe. This wasn’t going to be easy.

Of course, visitors to the Show House during this month’s event will see none of this. Instead, they’ll see designers’ choices of lavish furniture and accessories, lamps and antiques, all coordinated by a 33-color palette from Porter Paints called the Kentucky Collection.

The house that visitors see will have come to life, a magnificent array of stately but inviting rooms that suggest not only the home’s 19th century origin but also with touches of the 20th and even 21st centuries.

“After all,” said designer Kristen Pawlak, owner of Decorating Den Interiors, who designed one of the home’s bathrooms and the laundry room, “if this were truly a period piece there would be no shower, no water closet and no indoor plumbing.”

Joan Whelan Waddell, of J. Waddell Interiors, took a similar approach to the private ladies parlour and adjoining bathroom on the other side of the second floor. She took an antique American Federal-style mahogany secretary with a drop-down desk from Schumann Antiques on Taylorsville Road and turned it into a modern bar.

“It’s not a museum,” Waddell said, echoing Pawlak. “I wanted a juxtaposition between historical and contemporary, to keep it up- to-date and fresh. Contemporary pieces keep it from looking staid and predictable.”

Like a lot of the designers, Waddell created a back story for her room. “There’s no denying this space is feminine,” the designer said. “I could have made it anything, but it’s important to understand the historical significance of this home and pay homage to the people who lived here, to create a set of characters to design around.”

Designer Cindy Alberding Druin of The French Pleat also took a feminine approach to her first floor sitting room, right off the front door, calling it the Madden Parlour after Mrs. Atwood Martin, an early 20th century writer who took the pen name George Madden Martin because writing wasn’t then considered a suitable pursuit for women.

“I chose to make it a music room for the ladies to do their lessons,” she said of the charming space with 11-foot ceilings and wood-paneled French doors. “I imagined Mrs. Martin would come in here to relax and think.”

Druen said that while she began with pieces from the early 19th century she went out into the first decade of the 20th century because “I wanted a collection of things. That’s how families furnish. They don’t buy everything at once, they furnish over a lifetime.”

Visitors will have plenty of chances to tour the home, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, at 804 Evergreen Road. The Show House, which benefits Bellarmine University student- aid, runs from September 7-22, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays; and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

Designers will be available in their rooms on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5-7 p.m.

The participating designers include: Bassett Home Furnishings; Burdorf’s; Carriage House Interiors; C.C. & Co. Interiors; C. Hall Interior Design; The Closet Factory; Clovene; Colonial Designs; Creative Interiors; The Curtain Exchange; Decorating Den; Digs Home & Garden; Dwellings; Ethan Allen; Expect the Unexpected; French Pleat; Finishing Effects; Interiors by Carrie; J. Waddell; Kimura Design; Leslie Lewis & Assoc.; Reflections of You, by Amy; Steinbock Interior Design Group; Summer Classics; Tassels; and Valerie Meyer Interior Design.

There is also a café on the premise, catered by Callahan’s, and a boutique featuring an array of local suppliers, many of whom provided pieces for the designers.

Ticket prices are $15 at the door or $10 if purchased at Bassett Home Furnishings, Colonial Design, Tassels and all branches of Commonwealth Bank & Trust Co.

Photos by CHRIS HUMPHREYS | The Voice-Tribune