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.
aspire design and home: How much time did you have to complete this room, start to finish?
Loretta Crenshaw: My team & I had about 3 weeks to get our room ready.
aspire: What was your biggest challenge? Did you have a Eureka moment during the process?
Loretta: Once the wallpaper was removed from the walls, the walls were in horrible condition. We had planned for high gloss dark walls the condition of the walls made this difficult. Our eureka moments with suggestions was to go down a sheen to a satin finish and that worked much better.
aspire: What was your inspiration for this room?
Loretta: The inspiration for our room, the Schumacher “Shengyou Toile” fabric and the wonderful pair of vintage Chinese Chippendale chairs that were already in our collection.
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?
Loretta: Our space was black & white with blue accents, which fortunately worked with a lot of the others spaces this year.
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?
Loretta: We prefer large spaces. This was our sixth Junior League Showhouse and previously we’ve had three of the largest rooms. One living room and two ballrooms.
aspire: Describe Detroit in one sentence.
Loretta: Detroit is resilient. I’ve lived in Detroit for 33 years.
This or That?
aspire: Paint or wallpaper?
aspire: Hardwood or rug?
aspire: Beach or Mountains?
aspire: Saturated Color or Black and White?
Loretta: Saturated color
aspire: Brunch or Dinner?
aspire: Midcentury or 18th Century?
Loretta: 18th century
aspire: Draperies, shades, or nothing?
aspire: 2001: A Space Odyssey or The English Patient?
Loretta: The English Patient
aspire: Week at the spa or Week of Broadway shows?
Loretta: Broadway shows
Photography by Jeff Garland.
Click Here to view more interviews with our Junior League of Detroit Showhouse designers.
Like what you see? Get it first with a subscription to aspire design and home magazine.