The Dalton-Bell-Cameron house, built in 1914, was one of the most unique homes in High Point, North Carolina. Built in the Craftsman style, the house was quite different from its more traditional Victorian and Colonial neighbors. But the pioneering structure was stricken by two major fires—one in 1997 and the other in 2012—and by 2017 it was in such a forlorn state that the city ordered it be to be either repaired or demolished.
At that point, the High Point Preservation Society stepped in to save it, just prior to it being sold to Rick Lewis and his wife Margaret Bell Lewis, who had once lived there as a child. Following the purchase, the Society and the Junior League of High Point moved quickly to help with the goal of restoring the home. To assist the new owners with some of the restoration costs, they decided to raise funds by creating a showhouse in the historic home, enlisting a diverse group of 21 extraordinary designers to bring the interiors back to life.
Inside the Showhouse with Chad James
aspire design and home: How much time did you have to complete this room, start to finish?
Chad James: Oh my, I can’t totally remember how long, but I do remember feeling like I was pulling a rabbit out of my hat
aspire: What was your biggest challenge? Did you have a “Eureka!” moment during the process?
Chad: The biggest design challenge was that there were obstacles on every wall – windows, doors, etc. – and the room would not center. My big “Eureka Moment” was when I said to myself, “Self, you have to make this space what it was intended to be.”
aspire: What did you and your team accomplish that you thought would not happen in time?
Chad: One of the hardest parts of working on out-of-town showhouses is not having your bag of tricks with you. Learning how other installers and fabricators work is always informative. It keeps me in a place of “making it happen.” In this space, there was never the question of “if it would happen” but rather “how are we gonna make it happen?”
Seeking Inspiration and Finding Cohesiveness
aspire: What was your inspiration for this room?
Chad: Growing up, my first memory of interiors was of my personal bedroom, which had two twin beds. It was very important to me to bring that memory back to life. My inspiration was the vision of a gentleman’s guest suite.
aspire: Did you step out of your comfort zone for this project, and if so, why?
Chad: Ox Blood / Rust aren’t really colors that I use. I wanted to push myself and use colors that I’m not really known for.
aspire: Despite the fact that there were so many designers involved, there is an inherent cohesiveness to the home. Did you all converse/collaborate? Or was this a completely individual process?
Chad: It’s amazing how many times this will happen in a showhouse. Honestly, I had no idea what the other designers were doing in their spaces. I guess you can just call it luck!
aspire: Is your preference for a showhouse a small space or a large space? Does one or the other provide a better opportunity to stretch your creativity?
Chad: Over the years I’ve been involved in numerous showhouses, and I would have to say that larger spaces tend to be my favorite. They allow for more exciting moments
aspire: Describe the town of High Point in one sentence.
Chad: High Point is deeply enriched by its Southern charm – while also progressive due to the massive amount of visitors that travel there every year.
“This or That?” with Chad James
aspire: Paint or wallpaper?
Chad: Ultimately Paint.
aspire: Hardwood or rug?
aspire: Beach or mountains?
aspire: Saturated color or black and white?
Chad: Saturated Color.
aspire: Brunch or Dinner?
Chad: I love a beautiful dinner with friends.
aspire: Midcentury or 18th Century?
Chad: Always 18th Century.
aspire: Draperies, shades, or nothing?
Chad: Draperies, Draperies, Draperies… and when you think you can’t add more…. Add More Draperies !
aspire: 2001: A Space Odyssey or The English Patient?
Chad: The English Patient.
aspire: Week at the spa or week of Broadway shows?
Chad: Hmmmm, I’d say two days of Spa at Blackberry Mountain and pne Day of Broadway Shows followed by two days of Antique shopping.
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Photography by Dustin Peck.
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