From The Birmingham News by Kathy Seale:
If you visited the Decorators ShowHouse in 1985, then you’ll be familiar with this year’s locale.
The 2009 ShowHouse is, as it was then, a 7,000-square-foot, French-style manor built in 1961 for the late Mrs. Morris Bush, who named her home Manoir Minette. The deja vu feeling will likely end, though, when you step inside the front door, because the interior of Manoir Minette Reviste — so-named to reflect its status as a second-time Showhouse — has been transformed to reflect today’s trends in decor. (With notable exceptions, including existing features such as the French stained-glass windows in the gallery and the South American wood paneling in the library.)
The ShowHouse, which begins April 24 and ends May 10 and includes 28 decorated areas on three levels, benefits the Alabama Symphony Orchestra. Michelle and Hubert Green, a former PGA golfer, most recently owned the home, which was designed by Birmingham architect Henry Sprott Long. Harold and Lois Bissell owned the home when it was the 1985 ShowHouse, and Tommy and Margaret Tucker bought it afterward.
The style of the updated living room, decorated by Pandy Agnew, leans more toward French country than French royalty. For example, she painted the walls, along with their heavily gilded moldings, a creamy white, then sanded the moldings with steel wool for a slightly distressed look. Cream linen sheers and other natural fabrics, including buttery leathers, raffia studded with nail heads and burlap, add to the room’s airy appeal.
“My whole thought was to tone it down, so real people could live here,” Agnew says.
A touch of blue adds color, and pale gold adds warmth, to the predominantly ivory tones in the elegant, but comfortable, master bedroom, which was decorated by Brackey Stewart. The furnishings include embroidered linen and silk window treatments, an iron console topped with travertine and a massive 18th-century French buffet, which serves as a chest.
“I wanted to show you can use a buffet somewhere besides the kitchen or dining room,” she says.
The focal point in the master bedroom is the mirror and scrolled-iron headboard, which Stewart created when she didn’t find a mirrored headboard to her liking.
“Finally, I just got four mirrors and hung them on the wall,” she says.
A hand-forged iron bed takes center stage in the cream and celadon-green guest suite, which was decorated by Mark Kennamer. A 300-year-old tortoise shell from the Galapagos Islands adorns the wall behind the bed, and an acid-washed mirror, framed with brass, hangs above an 1840 Italian chest. Other furnishings include a 19th-century English armoire.
The subtle color scheme continues in the sunroom, decorated by Doug Davis and Paige Schnell, where a pair of celadon-green chairs add color to the cream, taupe and brown palette. A circular carved wood cocktail table, an antique patchwork rug and a pair of intricate wood transoms, which hang on a wall, provide interest in this secluded retreat.
Lamps, outfitted with flickering candles, hang above the twin beds in the young lady’s fit-for-a-princess retreat, which was decorated by Denise Glenn and Ann Underwood. A window nook separates the beds, which are encased in Gothic wood frames. Other furnishings include a hand-painted lingerie chest, which echoes the floral design on the hand-made gold, cream, coral and green bed coverings, a 1930s dressing table, a late 1800s dressing mirror and a French neoclassical jewelry chest, which is tucked inside the closet.
The furnishings in the media room — decorated by Bill Aroosian in rich shades of charcoal, brown and taupe, with a touch of red — include supple leather chairs and ottomans, piles of pillows, a brindle cowhide rug and an Asian cabinet, replete with drawers that are just the right size for CDs and DVDs. The walls are upholstered with fabric, large stainless-steel lanterns flank the flat-screen TV, and a granite-topped cigarette table is home for the remote control.
The children’s playroom, decorated by students at Virginia College, is a woodland wonderland. The wooden stage, topped with an arbor, is trimmed with river rocks and features a chalkboard background “so they can change the scenery,” says instructor Ginny Aday. One corner of the playful, angular room features a hand-painted tree, trimmed with fairies, while another is outfitted with a custom-built banquette, which is upholstered with a brown-tweed fabric and topped with robin’s egg blue pillows.
“We call it the ‘bird’s nest,'” Aday says.
What: 2009 Decorators’ ShowHouse, Manoir Minette Revisite.
Where: 4132 Old Leeds Road, Mountain Brook. (No parking at the house. Shuttles available from parking lot at Colonial Brookwood Village.)
When: Friday through May 10. Mondays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays, 1 to 5 p.m.
Tickets: Through Thursday, $15. After Thursday, $20. (Groups of 20 or more, $15 each.) www.symphonyvolunteercouncil.org.