Chatham House Transforms Two Distinct Spaces Into Something Cohesive And Colorful

The Junior League of Detroit—veterans of almost five decades of showhouses—hosted its biennial event in September 2020, bringing together 27 design teams to reimagine the city’s historic Bingley Fales House. Migrating for the first time to Detroit’s Indian Village neighborhood, the 2020 Designers’ Showhouse transformed the first two floors of a more than 100-year-old Georgian mansion into a dynamic mix of decorating styles. “The home has a very interesting history, and it has all its original features,” says charity chair Liana Dabir of the 16,000-square-foot estate set on over an acre of meticulously manicured land.

In our recently released aspire design and home Showhouse Issue, we sat down with Shelley Knudson & Kali Weber of Chatham House Design to learn more about their creative process in designing the Sanctuary for this project.

aspire design and home: How much time did you have to complete this room, from start to finish?
Chatham House: All the time that was allotted.

aspire: What was your biggest challenge? Did you have a Eureka moment during the process?
Chatham House: The biggest challenge, connecting two rooms that were created to have completely different looks with a common thread that created a beautiful transition.

aspire: What did you and your team accomplish that you thought would not happen in time?
Chatham House: Getting custom-created tassel chandeliers in on time.

aspire: What was your inspiration for this room?
Chatham House: We created two rooms and gave each a name which was the inspiration for each: “The Sanctuary”, a tranquil room for relaxation & comfort that made you not want to leave, filled with soft colors, lots of texture and fresh greenery. “The Butterfly Room”, representing transformation, like a caterpillar into a butterfly…bringing this space back to life, transforming it into something colorful and new.

aspire: Did you step out of your comfort zone for this project, and if so, why?
Chatham House: Creating two separate spaces that are connected and making them feel like a continuation of each other.

aspire: Describe Detroit in one sentence.
Chatham House: Detroit is an amazing city, representing a sense of price, community, and resilience.

This or That?

aspire: Paint or Wallpaper?
Chatham House: Wallcoverings
aspire: Hardwood or Rug?
Chatham House: Wood with an area rug.
aspire: Beach or Mountains?
Chatham House: Tied… How about winter and a summer home.
aspire: Saturated Colors or black and white?
Chatham House: Black & white
aspire: Brunch or dinner?
Chatham House: Dinner
aspire: Midcentury or 18th Century?
Chatham House: Midcentury
aspire: Draperies, Shades, or Nothing?
Chatham House: Depends.
aspire: 2001: A Space Odyssey or The English Patient?
Chatham House: The English Patient
aspire: Week at the spa or a week of Broadway shows?
Chatham House: Week at the spa.

Photography by Beth Singer.

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