2017 Design House


Are you planning to downsize, but your lovely home needs a little lift, a fresh new face to make it ready for sale? Maybe you have lived in the same house for years and are looking for new trends in design. Or perhaps you invested in a fixer-upper and now you’re ready for innovative approaches to tired spaces.

If any of these scenarios describe your situation, the Chestnut Hill Center for Enrichment wants to have a conversation. In the spring of 2017, the Center plans to present a Design Show House, to raise funds that will support its programs for older adults, and also to bring a sense of excitement and pleasure to the community as a whole. We are looking for a house in Chestnut Hill or nearby, with a sound roof and foundation; plumbing, electrical and other systems in working order; a house with 20 – 25 “spaces” (rooms, hallways, patios, entries) that can be transformed by area interior designers, decorators and landscape designers. The Center does not plan to undertake reconstruction or a major renovation. Good parking nearby is a necessity. Ideally, the house will be empty, making it easy for designers to design and decorators to decorate.

It is anticipated that transforming a property will take approximately two months, and that the 2017 CHCE Design Show House will be open for public tours during the month that follows. If you are interested in knowing more, or if you are ready to offer your home to be transformed for a good cause, contact the Chestnut Hill Center for Enrichment office by phone (215-248-0180) or email (the.chce@verizon.net )

The Design House Steering Committee (from left): Eileen Newcomb, Patricia Marian Cove, Marilyn Paucker, Andrea Imperatore (Photo by Carol Bates)

by Lizzie Stricklin

As any visitor or longtime resident would know, Chestnut Hill is home to a multitude of buildings that are beautiful inside and out.

In spring 2017, the Chestnut Hill Center for Enrichment (CHCE) will be taking advantage of these buildings by holding a Design Show House fundraiser. The center serves seniors in greater Chestnut Hill, including Northwest Philadelphia and nearby Montgomery County neighborhoods.

“The Center for Enrichment is raising money so that we can continue to be a community center for older adults, where programs and resources are available to enhance their health, security, education and enjoyment,” said CHCE Executive Director Mary McNeill Zell, “and where the whole neighborhood has the benefit of a vibrant ‘senior’ community.”

The CHCE hopes to repeat the success it had in 2011 with its first Show House fundraiser, which was inspired by the show houses organized for the CHCA by members of the CHCE Board in the 1980s and 1990s.

The 2011 CHCE Show House fundraiser featured a beautiful Queen Anne-style estate home that was rejuvenated by 25 notable designers and decorators. This historic, 120-year-old home had been completed in 1890 and had been designated as significant by the National Register of Historic Places.

Zell attributes the success of the fundraiser to the CHCE board, saying, “Our 2011 Design Show House came together because members of our board and friends of our center suggested we do it as a fundraiser and then stepped up to organize and run the event. The house and its gardens took about two months to design/decorate and then were open to the public for tours during the third month.”

While the upcoming project is still a year away, the CHCE is awaiting a new house to be lent for this great cause. A team of local decorators and landscape designers will put their own touch on the house’s appearance, though no reconstruction or major renovations are planned.

The CHCE is looking for a large house with 20-25 “spaces,” such as rooms, hallways, patios, or entries. The house must be in good working order, with a firm roof and foundation and working plumbing and electrical systems. There must also be good places to park nearby. An empty house would be ideal, allowing for ample work space for designers. If you are looking for a way to revamp your house, you could be perfect for this wonderful opportunity.

This process of decorative home transformation is expected to take about two months. The following month will be spent opening the house for public tours. As for the interior and landscape designers, Zell states that as soon as a house is chosen, “the designers and decorators will find us; and there will be as many as needed to fill the ‘spaces’ in and outside the Design House.”

The CHCE is hoping to raise $25,000 with this fundraiser. The money raised will support the Center’s programs for older adults, which include classes and trips for every day of the week.

Zell and the CHCE hope that members of the Chestnut Hill community will lend it a house to support this community center, reminding readers, “This center is also a place where people can (1) just drop in for a cup of tea or cold spring water and chat with staff or any members who happen to be here, [and] (2) get information about community resources they may need, and we intend for this part of our programming to continue.”

The CHCE office can be contacted at the.chce@verizon.net or 215-248-0180 with any questions or inquiries.