"It's sometimes an exercise in the worst excesses of over-the-top tastes," confides a local designer who no longer participates but demands anonymity out of respect for friends who do. Veteran designer Bob Trapp doesn't mince words. "We don't get involved anymore because the organizers allow too many unprofessional people to do rooms, people who don't understand what design is all about. That's insanity," he says.
Put on your straitjackets, because Designer Showhouse XXXIII opens this Saturday, showing off the work of more than forty interior designers, architects and artisans in a 1929 English Tudor mansionette just west of Ward Parkway. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, this year's Showhouse has something to both delight and offend everyone. By the standards of past Showhouses -- every available inch of which have been gilded, swaged, faux-marbled and geegawed -- this home is subdued. Of course, the shiny gold-leaf dome at the top of the black walnut staircase is a shade too Hollywood, and the "teen retreat" (courtesy of interior-design students at Johnson County Community College) seems to be created for a 1950s teen rather than a modern pubescent. Even more confusing: What's with the religious icons on the walls of what was once the servants' staircase? Does it lead to the pantry or the cloisters?