12 Reasons We Love Show Houses

And why this one is really special

Show houses are great, just ask anyone on our staff. You’ll often see us roaming the halls of stately homes (even during non-work hours!) enthralled by the rooms on display. Still, these events do present a singular collection of contradictions.

First, a show house happens at an actual residence that is (or once was, or will be) inhabited by real people; so it needs to bear some resemblance to practical, livable space. At the same time, a show house exists literally to put on a show — to give visitors who’ve contributed hard-earned cash something special in return.

Our latest outing, to Grace’s House in Plainfield, showed us once again the power of the design community coming together. Here’s why we’re fans.

1. Because it’s a tough thing to pull off:

Imagine dozens of designers with their assorted teams of builders, painters, buyers, artists, tile setters, bricklayers and other professionals descending on the house at once, each group with a different design plan. That’s what the weeks leading up these events are like. To see the efficient organization and professional courtesy on display is reassuring in an often-unkind world.

The design of the kitchen, by Swati Goorha Interior Design, involved painstakingly cutting the floor tile, then laying it in random forms. The cabinet color required several coats of paint and varnish. [Photo:  Wing Wong]

2. Because it’s a kick to see designers’ imaginations run wild:

Grace has a particular fondness for butterflies.

The team at Liepold Design Group helped handpaint the butterflies that were then hung on the sunroom ceiling. [Photo: Wing Wong]

3. Because it’s fun to see drama in play:

Who doesn’t need ostrich feathers in their bathroom?

CD Interiors adorned a second-floor bathroom with all manner of animal imagery. [Photo: Wing Wong]

4. Because there are always takeaways we can use in our own homes:

The designer for this space is Deborah Burk, Grace’s great aunt. She packed a small space with style and included the practical touch of towel storage in a basket.

DB Interiors is located in Edison [Photo: Wing Wong]

5. Because it’s nice to see the latest trends well executed:

My colleague Meg Fox, first noticed this trend — chairs that float in a room to show off beautifully designed backs and cutouts — at the High Point Market.

The designers at Global Home NY paired new furnishings with antique and vintage pieces in the second-floor study. [Photo: Wing Wong]

6. Because it’s interesting to see old favorites used in new ways:

This intriguing fireplace wall was created with carved wood.

JAB Design Group embellished one of the home’s original fireplaces. [Photo: Wing Wong]

7. Because they fuel our organizational fantasies:

Bucket-list item: a gorgeous closet. (And the high-end fashion to put in it!)

I did not want to leave California Closets’ space. [Photo: Wing Wong]

8. Because we often discover solutions to decorative dilemmas:

Sometimes, it’s not immediately obvious where the bed should go.

AK Design Group made an asymmetrical room work, beautifully. [Photo: Wing Wong]

9. Because it’s fun to watch designers have fun:

Vivid pink and a wild forest pattern make for a striking space.

B. Garcia Designs adorned the wall in the third floor landing with images of influential icons, including Oprah, Wonder Woman and Miss Piggy. [Photo: Wing Wong]

10. Because we get to check in with old friends …

The designers, regulars at show houses and house tours, told me the ceiling was hand painted, á la Michaelangelo.

Mimi & Hill took a large dining room and upped the cozy quotient by using two round tables rather than one long table. [Photo: Wing Wong]

11. … and meet new ones

This charming tea party setting was created by Liz Reichard, Grace’s grandmother. I had a chance to meet her at the house. Her husband, Dan, the impetus behind this whole event, told me this was his favorite space. (#couplegoals)

Traditional afternoon tea is served at the show house on Saturdays and Sundays. Grace’s Tea Garden is sponsored by Jeanne and Alain Barbet. [Photo: Wing Wong]

12. Because it’s a really good cause.

It’s not just because we’ve come to know Grace and her family, and because we realize how very special they are. It’s because this — all of this (the striking rooms, the collaboration among professionals, even the swanky parties) — came about from a worried grandpa’s sincere desire to help not just his own family, but others facing the same horrendous circumstances.

I’m not crying. You’re crying. [Photo: Kate Eckert]

Grace’s House: Building a Better Future for The Valerie Fund Kids, is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays until May 19. Tickets can be purchased in person at Grace’s House at 950 Hillside Avenue in Plainfield. For questions, call The Valerie Fund office at 973-761-0422.