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Much work, some play ; The transformation of Decorators' Show House 2011 is set to begin

It's unusual for a Decorators' Show House to feature an attached three-car garage. Even more so, one with paneled interior walls.

But the garage -- which was spruced up to serve as a banquet room for the 1941 wedding reception of the original homeowners' daughter -- is part of the history behind the Bayliss-Oshei residence.

During the next few months the Tudor-style home at 360 Depew Ave., in Buffalo's Central Park community, will undergo a transformation by interior designers, landscapers, contractors and others. Decorators' Show House 2011 will be open to the public April 30 to May 22.

But first comes a sneak peek of the undecorated home, Feb. 5 and 6, where anyone interested in the "before" can tour the seven-bedroom, seven-bath home for $5 at the door.

This is the 16th Decorators' Show House, co-sponsored since 1981 by the Junior League of Buffalo and The Buffalo News. The event has raised more than $3.2 million for local charitable projects.

The residence, which will feature three floors of decorated spaces, measures more than 6,000 square feet including the garage and basement.

Show House veteran Mark Taylor is decorating the living room, which measures "a manageable" 22 by 20 feet.

"It's a nice size room for a beautiful city home," Taylor said.

"I'm being very selective with the furniture -- two love seats flanking the fireplace, a pair of chairs in the bay window, probably a game table in the corner I want it to be refined and elegant, spacious and airy," he said.

Inspiration for the colors -- "a light palette with natural linen fabrics and touches of watery blues and green" -- comes from a 4-by-5-foot oil painting of Niagara Falls by Robert Havell Jr. (1793-1878) that Taylor is borrowing from a friend.

Among the new Show House interior designers this year are Kristin Ertel and Laura L. Wax, of L2k Design.

They will be decorating one of the bathrooms. While the existing black and white tiles will remain, all the fixtures, mirror, medicine cabinet, etc., will be replaced.

Plans for the walls include a combination of the existing tile, a large-print wallpaper, a thick wood molding, a second iridescent wallpaper for close to the ceiling and crown molding.

There will be glittery accessories such as crystal tie-backs to catch the light, Wax said.

And deep purple will provide a pop of color, Ertel added.

The kitchen, which has already been gutted, will be redesigned by Auburn Watson.

It had been remodeled in the middle 1960s -- complete with yellow Formica countertops, stainless steel cook-top stove and light wood cabinets, according to Marty Biniasz, co-founder of Forgotten Buffalo and husband of Kimberly Hyde Oshei, great-granddaughter of the original owners.

"It could have been on the set of 'Mad Men,' " he said.

Other features include multiple fireplaces, an alcove off the living room, circular stairs, linen closet, breakfast area, patios and in-ground swimming pool. A solarium off the living room was remodeled in the early 1960s, according to Astrid Willis, Show House chairwoman.

In addition, the attached garage will house the boutique and cafe when Show House opens.

Some history: The house was built in 1935 for William H. Bayliss, his wife, Bessie Cowan Bayliss, and their children.

Their daughter, the late Mary Bayliss Oshei, and her husband, the late Robert C. Oshei, later raised four sons and a daughter there.

Mary Bayliss Oshei lived in the house until her death in September 2009 at age 89. It was for her wedding reception seven decades earlier that her father, who owned canneries in South Dayton, Lewiston and Florida, had the garage paneled.

The house, designed by Buffalo architect Harvey Staring Horton, is expected to go on the market.

The home sits across from Burke's Green on land that was originally the Lewis J. Bennett estate.

The location was chosen so that Bessie Bayliss could walk to Central Park United Methodist Church.

"My grandmother didn't drive, and she was very active in the church," said Mary E. B. "Memo" Oshei, who works in group and corporate sales at Shea's Performing Arts Center.

Oshei grew up in the house with her parents and four older brothers. In the morning and at night, she could hear the quiet bells from the nearby Carmelite Monastery.

"I had a cute little room in the back with my own bathroom. When my brothers moved out, I got the big room," she said.

(You can read more about the house's history at Preview hours for Sneak Peek are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 5 and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 6. Admission is $5 at the door; no infants or children under age 10 are permitted. Presale tickets to the decorated house also will available for $15 during Sneak Peek.

Presale tickets also are available online at, at Junior League headquarters, located at 45 Elmwood Ave. (884-8865), through Junior League members and, after Feb. 7, at all Wegmans locations in Erie and Niagara counties.

In addition, a black-tie gala is planned for March 5 and a garden party preview of the completed house will be held April 29.

Planners also are seeking community or civic groups to serve as room volunteers during Show House, according to co-chairwoman Liz Angelbeck. Visit the Junior League website for information.


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