Carolyn Thornton

Thornton Designs

Pittsburgh Tribune Review - February 28, 2004
Interior Designers to Offer Their
Expertise in Free Sessions at Show

By Candy Williams

It's hard to believe that many people will trust their doctors, lawyers and tax accountants with personal business, but they're afraid to talk to an interior designer.

But it's true, says John DeSantis, executive director of the Pittsburgh Home & Garden Show. Despite growing interest in home remodeling and redecorating, "we have discovered that many people who are interested in doing projects in their homes are intimidated by the thought of contacting people in the design field," he says.

In an attempt to help people with decorating questions and concerns, members of the American Society of Interior Designers will again offer daily "Ask a Professional Designer" consultations at the show. DeSantis says the program was extremely popular last year.

Karolyn Spagnolo, a Gibsonia designer and chairwoman of the society's Home & Garden Show committee, says visitors are invited to bring floor plans, fabric swatches, photos or other tools to help design experts solve their decorating problems in free 15-minute sessions.

Color concerns are typically "our No. 1 question," says Spagnolo, "along with 'What can I do with a long rectangular room?'"

At the organization's Design Showcase, designers will display before and after home transformations. Photographs will show actual completed projects and the changes made to the appearance of a room or area of a home.

"Our intention is to show ideas that are real to Western Pennsylvania homes," Spagnolo says. "Our designers deliberately chose projects that are typical in this part of the country."

Also, eight designers have been invited to create room vignettes featuring new decorating ideas and products. Spagnolo is designing a neoclassical residential bar in her 4-foot-deep by 8-foot-wide by 10-foot-high space. She says it will contain three flat-screen TVs stacked vertically, so the imaginary homeowner can keep an eye on his stocks, a sporting event and another favorite program simultaneously.

A lot of families are including first-floor master suites in their new home plans. "People who are building their dream homes in their 30s and 40s are thinking ahead to when they are older," she says. "Most new homes also have two to three furnaces and air conditioners" so an unused portion of a house can be left unheated to save money on heating and cooling bills.

Besides Spagnolo, local design firms creating room vignettes include Barclay Langston Interiors, Fox Chapel; Angela Nolfi & Co., Mars; Carolyn Thornton Interior Design, North Hills; Astorino, Downtown; Pavilack Designs LLC, Wheeling, W.Va.; and Hue Marlatt, Morgantown, W.Va.

Copyright 2005 - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review