Carolyn Thornton

Thornton Designs

By Candy Williams
Saturday, February 26, 2005

House hunters need answer only one question before they step into the Pittsburgh Home & Garden Show next week: Are they looking for a luxury dwelling, or are they footing the bill themselves for their new residence?
If it's the latter, they'll want to steer clear of the Dream Home and head to the Designer Show House, where reality is the keyword for the model home. The show opens on Friday at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center and runs through March 13. For the first time, two houses are being constructed on-site, says John DeSantis, executive director of the annual event.

"The new convention center has given us the space to grow," he says.

The additional space is apparent in each themed area. The Garden Pavilion alone has increased to 100,000 square feet -- or 2 1/2 acres -- compared to just 10,000 square feet four years ago, he says.

As in the past, the show will be divided into four categories of services and products: landscape and gardening, construction and remodeling, kitchen and cooking, and home interiors. Nearly 1,600 exhibitors representing 600 companies will display their products.

Local decorators from the American Society of Interior Designers will create the interior furnishings and decor of the Designer Show House, an affordable ranch home being built by 422 Homes of Indiana, Pa. "The Sterling," the modular home being installed at the home show, is valued at $169,000, says Bill Hughes, vice president and general manager of 422 Homes. The same model can be adapted to a Cape Cod with a second floor at an additional cost, he adds.

The Dream Home is "The Covington," from Heartland Homes' Charleston Collection, and has an estimated price of $350,000, says Marcie Wilson, spokeswoman for Heartland Homes.

"People come to see the Dream Home and love it of course, but most people in Western Pennsylvania don't live in a house like that," DeSantis says.


Tom Zwierzelewski, a designer for Levin Furniture based in Smithton, Pa., is furnishing and decorating the Dream Home, which is 3,400 square feet. He selected the Urban Views furniture collection from Broyhill in buttermilk and charcoal painted finishes, which he says "is made for today's casual lifestyle. It has Old World styling with contemporary accents." The collection combines cottage-style elements such as bun feet with more contemporary details.

The house features an open floor plan that has a gourmet kitchen as the hub surrounded by large dining and living room areas and a media room featuring a home theater and plasma television. Also featured are a large foyer, a master bedroom suite with two walk-in closets, a powder room, sun room and laundry room.

From its faux finish paints in suede and sandscape shades, to its black granite kitchen countertops and white metal lighting fixtures, the Dream Home showcases the latest decorating trends, Zwierzelewski says.

"We didn't cut any corners in this home," he says.

Seven local designers from the American Society of Interior Designers are working to furnish the Designer Show House, says Karolyn Spagnolo, home show chairwoman. They include Spagnolo of Spagnolo Designs, master suite; Carolyn Thornton, Carolyn Thornton Interiors, foyer and living room; Nancy Drew, Drew Designs Ltd., family room; Lynn Staab, Organized Spaces, laundry room; Chuck Honse, Ched Designs, kitchen and dining room; Pat Lynn Good, Multidimensional Designing Services Inc., home office, and Andrea Pohl, Andrea Pohl Interiors, teen-ager's suite.

Each designer is working with their own brands, in most cases local artisans and furniture craftsman to furnish the home, which is 2,400 square feet. Spagnolo says the designers will "work our magic" using affordable furnishings and stylish decorations.

"We don't have unlimited budgets," she says. "We're going to wow them with 'normal.'"

Members of the designers group also will be available for free 15-minute consultations with home show visitors planning their own design projects, she adds. The homeowners should bring fabric swatches, photos and other materials to help with the decorating advice.

DeSantis says areas have been expanded to include more exhibitors and more room for displays. In the kitchen area, for example, cooking classes for adults and children will be offered for the first time.

"The big difference with this year's show is that visitors will notice so much more in each category," DeSantis says. "With more than nine acres of exhibits, this really has become four shows in one."



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