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Maple Lawn's Holly Manor featured as Decorator Show House

Thinking of renovating? You may get inspiration from this year's Decorator Show House, a sprawling seven-bedroom, 8,000-square-foot Dutch Colonial home, with each room decorated by a different area designer.

Last week, just days before the house, known as Holly Manor, would be open to the public, designers were putting the finishing touches on their designated spaces. Some rooms seemed nearly ready for public viewing, with chandeliers, artwork, rugs and knickknacks all carefully chosen and installed. In the dining room, the table was set. Other rooms were little more than piles of furniture and accessories, not yet crafted into the welcoming vignettes they would become.

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Now in its 27th year, the Decorator Show House, organized by Historic Ellicott City, gives designers a chance to showcase their work, and the public decorating ideas, as well as the opportunity to purchase items they like. A different Howard County residence is showcased each year.

At Holly Manor, the owners have been living in a cottage on the property for about two years, as they complete renovations before moving in. When the show is over, all the furniture and accessories will be removed, except for the paint on the walls and any items the owners choose to buy.

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This year, more than 25 designers are participating, said Wanda Mathews, co-chairwoman of the Historic Ellicott City Decorator Show House. "It's nice advertising for their businesses," she said.

The designers have been working in the house since the end of July, slowed only a little by torrential rains, Tropical Storm Irene and a several-day power outage.

Each designer submits her (this year they happen to be all women) top three or four choices of the room she wants to decorate, and a committee makes the decisions. Mathews is decorating the large family room, since nobody else signed on for the challenge of filling such a daunting space, she said. And Deborah Watson "came about 60 miles each way" from Dunkirk to create a bucolic mural of fields, stones and trees above one of the house's two staircases, she said.

Holly Manor is an intriguing mix of old and new, and designers have been referencing its Colonial elements, while creating modern rooms that highlight their own styles. The house sits partly on a foundation that dates to the 1740s. It burned in 1944 and was rebuilt, and has been expanded several times over the years.

"This house is really one of the best houses we've had," Mathews said.

Upstairs, Wendy Appleby of Your Home by Wendy in Columbia, designed a men's study in dark woods and leather, lightened with green and rust accents and anchored with floor-to-ceiling bookcases from Oak Tree Furniture. "Because of the flavor of the house, I knew I couldn't go contemporary in here," she said.

For the dining room, Corrine Zwiselsberger of Creations by Corrine in Sykesville, installed traditional-looking wood pieces made by Stratton Furniture of Hagerstown and an eye-popping chandelier from Dominion Lighting. She used Audubon-themed artwork and set the dining room table with details including petit fours at some places. "I wanted an 18th century feel," she said.

Jill Valeri, president of The Welcome Home in Ellicott City, chose only small spaces for her first Show House, and was given a tiny powder room near the front door. As with other rooms in the house, many of the elements, including the vanity and toilet, were already in place. "My hands were tied in a lot of ways," she said.

She painted the walls Softened Green and the ceiling a color called Baked Clay, both from Sherwin-Williams. She tied the colors together with a paisley window treatment and artwork she created, with stylized images of butterflies. She added a glass bowl for use as a soap dish and a few whimsical butterflies, among other touches.

Valeri said the experience has been a positive one. "I've really enjoyed working on this because all the designers are encouraging and collaborative," she said. "I've really enjoyed watching as everyone's rooms have progressed."

The Designer Show House, Holly Manor, is located on Holly Manor Way, in Maple Lawn. A preview party is set for Thursday, Sept. 22, from 7-10 p.m., with food from Peter Halstad Catering. Tickets are $75 and must be purchased in advance. The show house will be open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m., beginning Saturday, Sept. 24. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door. For more information or to order tickets online, go to http://www.historicec.com/events.htm.

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