Serenbe show homes open doors for voyeuristic glimpses, design inspiration

Through Oct. 22, you can visit two homes as part of this year’s Serenbe Designer Showhouse in metro Atlanta.

Credit: Dave Vitkus

Credit: Dave Vitkus

Walking through show homes is like stepping into the pages of a magazine like House Beautiful, Elle Decor or Architectural Digest.

A visit can inspire you to turn an interior design idea into a reality or kickstart a long-delayed renovation project.

Through Oct. 22, you can tour two side-by-side homes totaling 4,865 square feet in the Serenbe community 25 miles southwest of the Atlanta airport as part of the annual Serenbe Designer Showhouse, presented by Atlanta Homes & Lifestyle magazine. This is an opportunity to see what 15 interior designers with styles from urban chic to curated luxe have done with the rooms in these two-story homes in the Mado neighborhood.

Credit: Felicia Feaster

Credit: Felicia Feaster

In addition to the practical benefits of revealing the source of design ideas and products, show homes offer a voyeuristic peek into what a beautiful home can look like in the hands of top designers working with high-end materials. It’s the kind of world that few average homeowners will ever occupy — but can at least admire up close.

If you are lucky enough to see a show house in its last hours of preparation, it is something akin to the frenzy before a high-end wedding. Designers, builders, contractors, painters, photographers and assistants scurry around to fluff pillows, paint walls, fill fruit bowls, take photos and otherwise primp the space to the very last minute before guests arrive.

Credit: Felicia Feaster

Credit: Felicia Feaster

The interior designers selected to decorate each room use materials, fixtures and furniture they have in stock, are on loan or are supplied by sponsors to highlight their brands. The tour’s admission price goes toward a decorative arts fellowship through the Art Farm at Serenbe.

Pamela Stakemann of South Haven Builders designed the kitchen in one of the two homes, highlighting a current interest in statement lighting and in veined, uniquely patterned marble and quartzite countertops. She said the general trend in her design practice has been away from modern farmhouse style and toward a more diverse mix of design styles that still feel warm and homey.

Interior designer Calvin Watt of C’vion Company, who created a primary bedroom and bath, is seeing clients embrace a less neutral aesthetic. And Buffy Ferguson of Elizabeth Ferguson Design, who designed another primary bedroom and bath, said that “color has come back,” especially earthy jewel tones.

Show homes are also a chance to take in the trends that designers, who are generally on the cutting edge of such things, have on their radar. Show homes are ideal spaces for designers to experiment and try out ideas — many of them all at once — that they might not pursue in clients’ homes. That means you are likely to see fresh, surprising elements in any show home you visit, which makes them pretty addictive for design fans.

Credit: Felicia Feaster

Credit: Felicia Feaster

Here are the design trends that stand out at this year’s Serenbe Designer Showhouse:

1980s-inspired interiors

Designer Beth Kooby created a bedroom at Serenbe with bold garnet jewel tones and a dramatically undulating headboard, blending 1980s influences with a hint of art deco. Kooby also used horizontal bands of color in subtle shades of green on the walls.

Credit: Felicia Feaster

Credit: Felicia Feaster

Natural materials and texture

Beautiful wood grains, fur, leather, mohair, boucle and an array of organic textures are found everywhere in the show houses. Sheepskin-draped chairs and animal-hide pillow covers convey earthy luxury.

The new dining room

Gone are the days of formal dining rooms separate from the rest of a home’s public areas. An elegant but inviting dining room created by Hope Austin features a mix of seating with peacock-blue upholstered stools, a plush banquette with matching ottoman and an oval, burled wood table.

Statement lighting

Designers put oversized, high-impact pendant lighting front and center, as dramatic as an Elsa Schiaparelli brooch on a beautiful jacket.

Credit: Dave Vitkus

Credit: Dave Vitkus

Curated areas

Homeowners want to show off their personalities, travels and collections, said Watt, whose primary bedroom was filled with artwork, mementos, idiosyncratic accessories, sculpture, gold surfaces and the thoughtful details you’d find in a high-end boutique hotel.

Sculptural range hoods

As with bold light fixtures, designers continue to emphasize statement range hoods in materials like brass and plaster.

Felicia Feaster is a longtime lifestyle and design editor who spent 11 years covering gardening, interior design, trends and wellness for Felicia is a contributor to and has been interviewed as a design expert by The New York Times, Forbes and the Associated Press.


Serenbe Designer Showhouse

Through Oct. 22, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday-Sunday. Starting at $35. 1176 Lupo Loop, Chattahoochee Hills.

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