Designing a room with a white decor can be a challenge.
Just ask Kristin Chambers and Renee Houston Zemanski.
They spent a year looking for the perfect white furniture, adornments, fabrics and accent pieces.
"It was hard to find what we wanted," said Zemanski, an Annapolis resident. "We looked at antique shops and furniture stores. I have three boys and two dogs, so having an all-white room has always been a dream of mine. I wanted to create the perfect room."
On a recent afternoon, the women put the final touches on a room they named "White Christmas Ice Palace."
The room, a women's retreat, is one of about 20 rooms lavishly decorated for the 3rd annual Christmas House, a designers showcase to benefit the Springhill Center for Family Development. The Crownsville center offers programs for youth and families, marriage preparation and enrichment, and counseling.
Last year, more than $40,000 was raised during the event that will kick off with a cocktail party and a silent and live auction on Friday, Zemanski said. The items to be auctioned include jewelry, a trip and sports memorabilia, as well as items from each decorator. There also will be shops and vendors during the entire run show house.
The three-story house, called Springhill, was built in the 1850s by the Baldwin family and remained in the family for about 100 years. It was sold in 1949 to the Petty family for $12,000. The most recent family to live in the house was the Hatfields, who purchased Springhill in 1989 and then restored it. Springhill was purchased in 2002 and made into a center for family development.
The house has more than 30 rooms, four fireplaces and about 10 sets of French doors. Springhill was featured in Better Homes and Gardens in 2005, during the first Christmas decorator showcase. Each room in the house is furnished with a decor selected by the interior designers.
The idea to start the designers show house came after another group stopped doing one, said Maura Kohlhafer, an administrator of Springhill and a co-chairwoman of the event. Springhill center officials picked up the idea but wanted to distinguish it among all the other show houses, she said.
"All the houses in the area seem to be the same old thing," she said. "I wanted something to make our house unique."
They decided on a house decorated using Christmas as the dominant theme, she said. The first year they begged designers to help; the second year, a full array of designers signed up. This year, designers began calling to ask to participate as soon as last year's showhouse closed, she said.
On a recent afternoon, decorators were busy putting the final touches on their rooms.
Chambers, the owner of Inspirations by Kristin, an interior design business in Annapolis, and Zemanski, a home decorating editor and writer, selected unique items that totaled less than $1,000 for the lavish room.
For starters, Zemanski collected tree branches from the side of the road in her neighborhood. Then she spray painted the branches a soft matte white and dusted them with glitter. The branches were arranged in terra cotta pots and Christmas tree stands.
Using a closet without doors, the women made the space look like an outdoor winter scene, Zemanski said.
"We wanted a warm and comfortable setting," said Zemanski of Annapolis. "But it was quite a process to figure out how to do it."
The room also contains mirrors, chairs, dozens of candles, a chaise lounge and a plush white shag rug.
A large branch was hung from the ceiling and decorated with crystal embellishments.
Down the hallway from the white room, Eileen Hoyland, owner of The Well-Dressed Nest, a home decor business in Annapolis, created a sitting room called "A Coastal Christmas."
The room was designed using butter cream and sea foam green. It has an elegant cottage look and includes a sofa and chairs, a Christmas tree, table and chandelier with a seashell theme.
"I wanted to participate in the project because of the exposure to the area," Hoyland said. "I also wanted to participate in the spirit of Christmas."
Across the hall, Julie Bass of, Julie Bass Interiors of Severna Park, created a gentlemen's library that she called, "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen."
The windows in the room are inspired by a man's smoking jacket, with panels that are peacock blue and gold silk, Bass said. The walls are done in a faux finish of teal suede and black trim. And library wallpaper, or wallpaper that looks like books, covered the utility closet doors in the room.
"I chose something very bold," Bass said. "We'll see how it all works out."
Downstairs, Genevieve Michael Chester, of Michael Tokash Design Concepts of Annapolis, worked on a formal butler's pantry that she dubbed "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas."
"I thought that this would be a lot of fun," said Chester, who was decorating for the first time at the house. "I chose the pantry because I focus on kitchen and bath designs in my business."
She painted the walls a chocolate brown with white trim, and used green and metallic accent pieces. The windows are dressed with grass shades and an Etruscan gold chandelier adds light.
Also downstairs Marci Williams, Melody Mintz and Jan Marie Goebel, of Great Estates Home Furnishings and Upscale Consignments of Millersville, decorated the fireplace area.
Called "Christmas Time at Great Estates," the room, dominated by a large fireplace, is decorated with a large gold clock surrounded by dozens of smaller clocks.
Other highlights include original art, Christmas trees scattered throughout the house, and a unique wallpaper in the gentlemen's bathroom. The wallpaper is adorned with tiny crystals and costs about $450 a roll.
1134 Bacon Ridge Road in Crownsville.
Friday until Dec. 16, Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
$15 in advance and $20 at the door.
Discover Annapolis Tours by calling 410-626-6000.