A private residence rarely gets a second turn as a designer showhouse. But it’s happening with the Smyth house at 710 N. 38th St.
Built in 1906 for Constantine J. Smyth, a rising star on Omaha’s political scene, the neo-classical revival home with the pillared concave porch got its first designer makeover in 1980. In May, it will be reintroduced as the 2013 ASID Joslyn Castle Trust Designer Showhouse.
Today and Sunday, the public gets a sneak peek at the designers’ plans for 20 spaces in the three-story home owned by Robyn Tait and John Campbell. The couple, who bought the home in 2004, will be on hand this weekend, along with representatives of the 19 participating design firms from the local chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers.
Organizers anticipate strong interest in the sneak peek as well as the grand reveal May 3 to 19.
“Anytime you have the romance of a Gold Coast mansion, there’s going to be interest,” said showhouse spokeswoman Kristine Gerber.
Design chairwoman Beth Settles predicted that seasoned showhouse patrons will have fun comparing and contrasting the home.
Jan Buckingham is among a handful of participating designers with first-hand historic perspective. Buckingham was design chairwoman for the 1980 effort.
“The house maintains beautiful architectural and historical features, like millwork and paneling, that have been respected and never altered,” she said.
The present owners gave the kitchen a wonderful update, she said. “The space functions in the 21st century but still maintains historic charm.”
This year, Buckingham teams with Ellen Pandorf to co-design a “bonus” exterior space — a garden and potting shed.
“The seeds are already ordered for early crops like lettuce, radishes and peas,” Buckingham said. “We’ll use early annuals like pansies for color.”
Both designers are avid gardeners, “so this should be lots of fun,” she said.
The homeowners approached ASID about the possibility of featuring their home on this year’s tour, according to Settles. While several homes were on the prospect list, organizers liked the Tait-Campbell home for its historical significance and number of rooms.
“The fact that it was an early showhouse was a fun twist,” Settles said. (The first ASID designer showhouse was in 1975.)
Tait and Campbell spent Valentine’s Day moving the last of their belongings into temporary storage. They’ll spend the next three months in an apartment above the carriage house on the premises.
Just like in 1980, the work order for the Smyth house includes new plaster, flooring, paint and wall coverings.
The “wow” factor, Settles said, will be in the use of color. The design boards — which those on the sneak peek will get to see — reveal an eclectic mix of style elements. Deep purples, blues, reds, corals and golds dominate. Metal finishes also shine.
The inspiration for the palette came from relief tiles on the front hall fireplace and an Oriental rug on the grand staircase.
“The design can be more creative because it’s not tethered to any architectural limitations,” Settles said. “The third floor in particular will have some surprising elements.”
That level includes a teen suite and a media/game room.
Tour proceeds, in part, benefit historic Joslyn Castle, which happens to be in the neighborhood.
“We’re reviving one old mansion to preserve another,” Gerber said.
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