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An Inside Look at Designer Showhouses with NYC Designer Scott Sanders

Photo Credit: Michael Arnaud/Patrik Rytikangash
This is an excerpt from an interview with Scott Sanders about his recent project.

Tell me about the showhouse you just completed.

Scott Sanders: The Stately Homes by the Sea Showhouse, located in Remsen, New Jersey, ran from May to mid-June. It was actually my 5th showhouse. In the past I have designed a pool and patio, a lower level family room, a library, and a front porch, but this year I was fortunate to have been selected to design the living room – a space that is often regarded as the best space to get in a showhouse. It was actually featured this month on the cover (and in an article) of NY Spaces magazine – my first cover!

How exciting. Tell me about the style, and what were you’re thought as you were putting the showhouse together?

SS: Showhouses provide a great opportunity to showcase your creativity, expertise, and something a little different, since there is no client involved. The design should be tailored to fit where the house is, the season, and its intended audience. The house is located near the ocean and as the showhouse would be open during the spring and early summer, I wanted to create a space that felt light and cheerful. The living room also was positioned so that it gets a lot of light, so I reflected this in our choice of colors, which involved a lot of yellow. Yellow is not a color that most people use, particularly in a living room, and it’s something that I rarely use, but it was appropriate for the space and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. 

I also challenged myself to do something a little more contemporary. I mixed a lot of antiques from the ‘40s and 50s, new furniture, and a custom rug with contemporary art to create a room that felt fresh but still familiar. I live in the West Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, which is located near many art galleries, which I find very inspiring. I decided to showcase some of my favorite artists in this space. While the room is very eclectic, it’s actually a very comfortable room. It was a bit of a challenge to take a living room, which most people think of as being very formal and stodgy, and make it sophisticated and elegant, but also incredibly inviting and comfortable, but I feel that we succeeded.

Terrific. Well it sounds like it is a big success for you. So what were some of the surprises about working on the showhouse?

SS: Surprises. Well, there are always surprises in a showhouse. You know some showhouses are more organized than others, and before you sign on to one you should really do your research and see who the person organizing it, and to see if the showhouse actually exists and that it’s not under construction. Based on previous experiences, they can be notorious about being under construction up until the very last day.

What kind of budgets do you have to come up with for yourself?

SS: The goal is always try to spend as little as possible by borrowing items or having them donated. Trucking or shipping is typically the only thing that you can’t have donated and it is hard to estimate what that will be until everything in the room is selected. Due to the tight time frame you are usually working with while designing a showhouse room, you don’t have time to get this estimate up front. So that is always a wild card. This particular showhouse I bought one thing in the entire room, which I wanted to buy because I wanted to keep it. Everything else was either donated, or borrowed.

Visit for more information about the designer.
Patrik Rytikangas

Patrik Rytikangas

Michael Arnaud

Michael Arnaud

Michael Arnaud

Patrik Rytikangas

Michael Arnaud

Michael Arnaud

Gail Doby

Gail Doby is an author, international speaker, interior designer and small business consultant. She is co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of Design Success University, a global continuing education university for professional interior designers. As seen on CNBC, Reuter's, Luxe Magazine, Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal, Fox News, K+BB, Interior Design Online, Decorati and Ava Living. ...(Read More)

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