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.
Inside the Showhouse with Anne Kordas
aspire design and home: How much time did you have to complete this room, start to finish?
Anne Kordas: I had one month to complete the design of the room.
aspire: What was your biggest challenge? Did you have a “Eureka!” moment during the process?
Anne: The biggest challenge was taking the 9-foot panoramic wallpaper and trying to install it on a 13-foot ceiling and allow for it to look seamless. I thank my amazing installer, Jim Stapleton, for his amazing skills. He did it better than anyone could have.
aspire: What did you and your team accomplish that you thought would not happen in time?
Anne: The only struggle was that my room was adjacent to a bathroom that was still under construction until the very end, so I had to tape off a traffic pattern and cover many of my furnishings to protect them from dust and dirt.
Seeking Inspiration and Finding Cohesiveness
aspire: What was your inspiration for this room?
Anne: My inspiration was to design a very intricate and highly curated nursery that, above all, demonstrated sophistication. The wallpaper on the ceiling was a metaphor for the night sky, and, of course, the moon-like chandelier offered another powerful metaphor there. The playful drapery panels with polka dots alluded to the joyous sunrise.
aspire: Did you step out of your comfort zone for this project, and if so, why?
Anne: I was given an absolutely beautiful room to design. The dental moldings, picture frame moldings, tall ceilings and beautiful bay window area allowed me to hit the ground running with a stellar design. The deck was stacked in my favor.
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?
Anne: I did not collaborate with any designers, and it was very magical to see the choices that each individual artist made with the space given.
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?
Anne: I would take a small or large space. I feel: the smaller the space, the more you have to figure out a way to make it riveting without overcrowding the room. But I’m up for the challenge. I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of this fundraiser.
aspire: Describe Detroit in one sentence.
Anne: Detroit is a resilient city full of underdogs and innovators. Detroit has heart!
“This or That?” with Anne Kordas
aspire: Paint or wallpaper?
aspire: Hardwood or rug?
aspire: Beach or Mountains?
aspire: Saturated Color or black and white?
aspire: Brunch or Dinner?
aspire: Mid-century or 18th Century?
Anne: Both, together!
aspire: Draperies, shades, or nothing?
aspire: 2001: A Space Odyssey or The English Patient?
Anne: The English Patient
aspire: Week at the spa or Week of Broadway shows?
Anne: Broadway shows for sure. For the past 20 years, I have been a part of more than 30 regional and semi-professional musicals around Metro Detroit—I’m a singer and actor, as well!
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Photography by Jeff Garland.
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