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PARKWAY PANACHE
DECORATORS' SHOW HOUSE OPENS ITS DOORS WITH THEMES FOR EVERY TASTE

Yes, it's been two years. Two years since the last Decorators' Show House -- the Miller Mansion on Nottingham Terrace -- opened its doors to the public.

Now it's time to do it all over again. There's a new house, of course. A new lineup of decorators. And a new twist that sets this particular show house -- the Century House at 100 Lincoln Parkway -- apart from the previous ones.

The three-story, 12,000-square-foot residence features not one but three separate living quarters with three identical floor plans. Throw in the 1,700-square-foot carriage house and, well, anyone can see there's been a whole lot of decorating going on.

"What makes this show house so different is that we have four apartments with four completely renovated kitchens," said Rachel Stenclik, decorating chairwoman.

Considering that those kitchens were far from complete earlier this week adds to the excitement, drama, frenzy, panic and comraderie that surrounds pulling together a show house like this.

The Century House, the 13th Decorators' Show House co-sponsored by the Junior League of Buffalo and The Buffalo News, opens to the public at 10 a.m. Saturday and runs through May 22. The event has raised more than $2.2 million for local charitable projects since the first show house opened in 1981.

Another twist this year: rather than giving decorators carte blanche, the Junior League asked them to work with floor themes -- traditional for the first; metropolitan for the second; Tuscan for the third. The Carriage House offers its own unique blend of antique and modern furnishings.

Something else to look for: artwork -- and plenty of it. A stairway gallery features the works of Buffalo artists Margaret M. Martin, Julie McIndoo and Donald J. Siuta. The artwork is for sale.

The first-floor solarium has been converted into an Urban Artist Studio by Jessica Trapasso and Pam Misiti of Details, Details. And on the second floor, visitors will tour the Collector's Gallery and Solarium, featuring art and sculpture by local and international artists.

"The artwork is over the edge for many people, and that's a good thing," says Michael Weber, of Lexington Design, who designed the spaces in collaboration with Suzanne Hofmeister, of Persia Gray -- a business specializing in fine art and designer jewelry.

One highlight: In the gallery, on top of a large slick black table, sits a 1940s car replica of the fastest land vehicle of that period, Weber explained.

"We see it as sculpture," Hofmeister added.

Weber also pointed out that the furnishings featured in these two spaces are either reclaimed, found or from flea markets.

A bit of history: The Century House was originally designed by Esenwein and Johnson as a single-family residence. It was home to Harlow Curtiss, a prominent Buffalo attorney, Ethel Mann Curtiss, a former president of the Buffalo Council of Camp Fire Girls, and their children.

Among the later occupants were Albert and Sylvia Wende, who subdivided the place into three separate living units. The home is currently owned by Donald and Lori Leone.

Visitors to the Century House will find a combination of established designers who have participated in previous show houses as well as some first-timers.

One newcomer is Michael Poczkalski, who has a master's degree in architecture and designed a second-floor bedroom inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright.

"This is a modern take on Frank Lloyd Wright. We designed and built all this furniture. I like the idea of taking common things and using them in uncommon ways," Poczkalski said.

The "window treatments" are designed from steel panels with squares punched into them, for example. And the area rug is not a rug at all but rather a floor-covering crafted from squares of sheet plywood held together by stainless steel ties.

Returning for her sixth show house -- and third representing Smith and Schulte Furniture -- is Maryan Celani, who created a room called the Lady Loves Red.

This sleek space contrasts black and white pieces with punches of sassy red. Faux silk fabrics in deep ruby red dress the windows. A chair done up in an oversized houndstooth pulls up to a desk. The sofa is covered in a broad black and white stripe accessorized with red pillows.

Celani has a clear idea of the fictional woman who retreats there: "She loves to travel in high style, and she has the money to do it. She loves the best clothes and expensive shoes. She loves to have things her own way. And, of course, she loves red," Celani said.

Some other highlights from Decorators' Show House 2005:

Most of the cabinets in the first-floor kitchen are crafted from lyptus. "Lyptus is a new wood to the cabinet industry. It looks like a blend of cherry and mahogany. It comes from a sustainable forest in South America and grows fast, straight and tall," said designer Todd McGowen Lewis, of Ridgewood Custom Cabinetry.

Faux painting can be found throughout the house, including the burled wood walls in the first-floor foyer. They were created by decorative painter/designer Terry Litzinger, and they look very, very real.

The 5-by-9 floor cloth in the first-floor artist's studio/solarium required nine coats of polyurethane. The cloth features a large array of botanical prints, architectural drawings and more.

The first-floor "traditional" living room by Ethan Allen has an aquarium installed in the fireplace. Really.

Every piece in the first floor dining room, called "A Place to Wine, A Place to Dine," was created by Kittinger just for the show house, including the 72-inch round table made from Movingui, an African satinwood.

Yes, those really are buttons attached to the baseboard of the first-floor playroom, dreamed up by Lisa Caywood from the Ruby Slipper. Kelly Mong decorated the walls -- and the adjoining bathroom.

The walls in the third-floor rear bedroom are an amazing shade of dark purple, accented with flowering grape leaves. The room, with its "Almost a Woman" theme, was designed for a fictional teen "who still has little girl things but wants to be grown up," explained decorators Cathy VanGalio and Mimi Fierle.

The beds are beautiful in this year's show house. In la Stanza Rossa, a room decorated by Elizabeth Bartolone of Homeward Bound, a pair of wrought iron twin beds are dressed in Bordeaux colored silk.

Be sure to check out the window boxes, potted plants and landscaping outside. Spring -- and Decorators' Show House -- is here.

Show House details
Here's what you need to know about Decorators' Show House 2005:

Place: The Century House, 100 Lincoln Parkway.

Dates: Saturday through May 22.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays through Fridays; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. Mondays are for private tours and reserved time-tickets only.

Admission: $15 at the door.

Restrictions: No infants or children under age 10. The house is not wheelchair-accessible.

Parking: On the street.

Tip: Come the first week to avoid long lines and crowds. Give yourself a good 45 minutes to tour the main house, carriage house and grounds.

What else to do? Enjoy refreshments at the French Garden Cafe. Shop for unique gift items at the Parkway Boutique. Check out the landscaping, gazebo, La Piazza terrace, outdoor fountain and the Diva sculpture in the front yard created by Donna Ioviero, from the Garden of Earthly Delights in Clarence.

More info: Call Junior League headquarters at 884-8865.
e-mail: smartin@buffnews.com