10 Genius Showhouse Ideas

The 2016 Southeastern Designer Showhouse and Gardens is a DIY design-idea bonanza.

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Showhouses are an inspiration wonderland, and when the designers are on hand to break down their ideas and tips so you can try some DIY design projects at home, it's even better. Made+Remade toured the drop-dead gorgeous 22,000 square foot English manor-style Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles 2016 Southeastern Designer Showhouse and Gardens and picked up some great designer pointers you can apply in your own space. In Atlanta and want to see the showhouse up close and personal?  This weekend is your last chance, so grab those tickets stat!

Creative Console

Creative Console

Brian Watford's lounge showed the beauty of a well-edited console with just a few striking objects. Geometric objects in metal and other materials are a recurring theme in many designers' rooms. Shop your own house to find clever objects to create a striking console or coffee table tableau.

Photo by: Laura Negri

Laura Negri

Brian Watford's lounge showed the beauty of a well-edited console with just a few striking objects. Geometric objects in metal and other materials are a recurring theme in many designers' rooms. Shop your own house to find clever objects to create a striking console or coffee table tableau.

1. Edit

Ceramic Birds

Ceramic Birds

Designer Barbara Westbrook incorporated these quirky, one-of-a-kind clay birds into her Great Room design for a wonderful touch of personality. "I would rather have a flea market find than everything new" says Westbrook of her mix of objects like these unique artist-made birds that look wonderful when grouped together.

Designer Barbara Westbrook incorporated these quirky, one-of-a-kind clay birds into her Great Room design for a wonderful touch of personality. "I would rather have a flea market find than everything new" says Westbrook of her mix of objects like these unique artist-made birds that look wonderful when grouped together.

Designer Barbara Westbrook is a big fan of paring back your space to highlight beautiful found objects, both old and new. Give your space added style and personality, she advises, by incorporating antiques and one-of-a-kind objects you love. Westbrook's Great Room was a striking blend of clean design and quirky objects, like a set of ceramic birds she found at an Atlanta gallery. It's like the old adage about dressing for a night out: put on all your jewelry and then take one piece off. Less is more.

2. Go With a Simple Palette 

Black and White Palette

Black and White Palette

Designer Barbara Westbrook stuck with a clean and simple color palette in her Great Room design. Westbrook advises keeping your coffee table pared back "but make sure everything on it is special." Shop your own home for unique objects to group together. Westbrook painted this simple oak tray black for drama and to better highlight the white objects featured. If a favorite object is past its prime or just needs a refresh, spray paint is a great, cheap tool. It can also bring continuity to a room design, as with this black and white room.

Designer Barbara Westbrook stuck with a clean and simple color palette in her Great Room design. Westbrook advises keeping your coffee table pared back "but make sure everything on it is special." Shop your own home for unique objects to group together. Westbrook painted this simple oak tray black for drama and to better highlight the white objects featured. If a favorite object is past its prime or just needs a refresh, spray paint is a great, cheap tool. It can also bring continuity to a room design, as with this black and white room.

Use plain linen-upholstered furniture as the backdrop and build from there advises Westbrook. She loves washable (or dry-cleanable) white linen covers for chairs that you can add colorful, modestly priced pillows to to add interest.

3. Think Outside the Houseplant Box

Preserved Boxwood

Preserved Boxwood

Designer Jonathan Savage incorporated no-maintenance preserved boxwood on striking pedestals to add elegance—and a low-cost touch of greenery—to his bedroom design.

Designer Jonathan Savage incorporated no-maintenance preserved boxwood on striking pedestals to add elegance—and a low-cost touch of greenery—to his bedroom design.

Houseplants don't have to be high-maintenance. Designer Jonathan Savage used preserved boxwood in urns set on pedestals in his very sleek and feminine bedroom to frame a window. More and more designers are using bowls of moss and other low to no-maintenance plant material to bring natural touches inside.

4. Pewter Is Hot

Pewter Objects

Pewter Objects

Silver matte pewter objects lend iconic, unique style to designer Lauren DeLoach's showhouse kitchen and they don't cost a fortune. Group pewter objects of different sizes together for more impact.

Silver matte pewter objects lend iconic, unique style to designer Lauren DeLoach's showhouse kitchen and they don't cost a fortune. Group pewter objects of different sizes together for more impact.

Could pewter be the new brass? Kitchen designer Lauren DeLoach used a variety of Williamsburg-evocative pewter bowls, pitchers and plates to beautifully complement the mix of woods in her custom kitchen. I use my grandmother's pewter in my own home and loved DeLoach's chic validation of this Colonial look.

5. Rethink Vintage

Colorful Lampshades

Colorful Lampshades

This retro gold light fixture gets a fabulous update and burst of color with the addition of these fun lampshades in the Parker Kennedy Living designed bedroom and bath. Think about colorful lampshades as a quick, colorful and inexpensive way to update a room, especially when paired with gold fixtures and lamps.

This retro gold light fixture gets a fabulous update and burst of color with the addition of these fun lampshades in the Parker Kennedy Living designed bedroom and bath. Think about colorful lampshades as a quick, colorful and inexpensive way to update a room, especially when paired with gold fixtures and lamps.

The design firm of Parker Kennedy Living brought serious fun to their color-rich bedroom and bath by incorporating tons of vintage (or spirit of vintage) finds. A retro light fixture got a very contemporary update with the addition of teal lampshades, turning the whole piece into a visual confection.

6. Overthink the Details

Custom Drapes

Custom Drapes

These beautiful curtains in Lauren DeLoach's kitchen have a distinctive scalloped edging that adds a unique—relatively low cost—touch to a pared-back kitchen.

These beautiful curtains in Lauren DeLoach's kitchen have a distinctive scalloped edging that adds a unique—relatively low cost—touch to a pared-back kitchen.

Lauren DeLoach added style to her sophisticated kitchen with the gorgeous scalloped edges of the room's curtains. A clean and simple design scheme gets a fresh take with such elegant details.

7. Reconceptualized Canopies

Bed Curtains

Bed Curtains

A more updated spin on the canopy, these cheerful, luxurious curtains add warmth and style to the bed in design firm Parker Kennedy Living's bedroom.

Want an easy and quick weekend project that adds a dose of cozy to your bedroom space? Jonathan Savage, Parker Kennedy Living and a number of other showhouse designers used curtains to add comfort and luxury to their bed designs.

Curtains on Bed

Curtains on Bed

Designer Jonathan Savage added warmth to his sophisticated bedroom by adding curtains to this bed, also a relatively inexpensive way to add texture and dimension to your bedroom.

Designer Jonathan Savage added warmth to his sophisticated bedroom by adding curtains to this bed, also a relatively inexpensive way to add texture and dimension to your bedroom.

Contemporary Foyer

Contemporary Foyer

Designer Melanie Turner's Grand Foyer design combines artsy details with old Hollywood elegance. Designers like Barbara Westbrook like to use a clean, minimalist color palette in upholstery, using the same white linen on all the upholstered furniture in a room. She then adds interest with throws and pillows to add texture. Less inexpensive pillows and throws also protect the upholstery underneath and can be taken to the dry cleaner when the need arises.

Photo by: David Christensen

David Christensen

Designer Melanie Turner's Grand Foyer design combines artsy details with old Hollywood elegance. Designers like Barbara Westbrook like to use a clean, minimalist color palette in upholstery, using the same white linen on all the upholstered furniture in a room. She then adds interest with throws and pillows to add texture. Less inexpensive pillows and throws also protect the upholstery underneath and can be taken to the dry cleaner when the need arises.

8. Books Are Your Best Accessory

Books As Side Table

Books As Side Table

Designer Melanie Turner used a stack of books as a side table in her Grand Foyer, just the kind of inspired, slightly artsy touch that gives an entrance character while also functioning as a budget-friendly table using objects you may already have at home.

Designer Melanie Turner used a stack of books as a side table in her Grand Foyer, just the kind of inspired, slightly artsy touch that gives an entrance character while also functioning as a budget-friendly table using objects you may already have at home.

Use them as a side table, as designer Melanie Turner did in her Grand Foyer design, or just use a stack of well-edited art and design books to lend dimension to a console table or coffee table. Place objects on top of books stacked at various heights.

9. Tables, Tables Everywhere

Table at Foot of Bed

Table at Foot of Bed

Parker Kennedy Living created a super-functional design with great attitude by placing a table stacked with books at the foot of the bed, a detail that establishes instant comfort and makes you want to snuggle with a great book. It's also a great way to upcycle an old coffee table you don't want to make a living room focal point, but think would add a quirky detail to a guest or master bedroom.

Parker Kennedy Living created a super-functional design with great attitude by placing a table stacked with books at the foot of the bed, a detail that establishes instant comfort and makes you want to snuggle with a great book. It's also a great way to upcycle an old coffee table you don't want to make a living room focal point, but think would add a quirky detail to a guest or master bedroom.

Do you have a cavernous bedroom with lots of empty space? Head to your favorite thrift or vintage store and find an end or coffee table to add to the foot of your bed and pile it with books or fun objet d'art to lend coziness and style, as seen in the Parker Kennedy Living bedroom. 

10. Custom Painting 

Painted Wall

Painted Wall

Designer Andrew Brown created a gorgeous, exotic effect with this painted detail on the walls of the bedroom he designed for the 2016 Southeastern Designer Showhouse and Gardens. Unique painted details like this are relatively inexpensive to pull off, especially when making use of some extra paint you may already have on hand from another painting job.

Photo by: David Christensen

David Christensen

Designer Andrew Brown created a gorgeous, exotic effect with this painted detail on the walls of the bedroom he designed for the 2016 Southeastern Designer Showhouse and Gardens. Unique painted details like this are relatively inexpensive to pull off, especially when making use of some extra paint you may already have on hand from another painting job.

Have an artist friend, or artistic tendencies of your own? Unique painted details look expensive but don't cost a lot. Several designers including Andrew Brown at the 2016 Southeastern Designer Showhouse and Gardens used interesting techniques to lend richness to their rooms. Brown used a Middle Eastern motif to frame artwork in the bedroom he designed. And Lauren DeLoach offered the great money-saving tip that finding someone to paint a botanical design on wallpaper gives you the look of high-end wall coverings for far less money.

Painted Wallpaper

Painted Wallpaper

Designer Lauren DeLoach painted this botanical scene on wallpaper for a luxurious look for much less money. "It also gives it a more whimsical look" than plain grasscloth wallpaper says DeLoach.

Designer Lauren DeLoach painted this botanical scene on wallpaper for a luxurious look for much less money. "It also gives it a more whimsical look" than plain grasscloth wallpaper says DeLoach.

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