I have been a judge for the Interiors by Decorating Den Dream Room Contest for a number of years now. For the past four years I’ve been representing Draperies & Window Coverings magazine. Some contests have been more spectacular than others. There are years I have judged when a particular designer has had the good fortune to plan the interior of a home and have a million-dollar budget to play with. There are years when the challenge is to use all of the existing furnishings within a room—“just please, make it look fresh and new.” A can of paint, a new window treatment and a rearrangement of the furniture are the solutions. It ’s always an interesting mix.
There are hundreds of interiors displayed on boards, and honestly,
some of them are just not of my taste. Some of them are themed,
with monkeys dropping from drapery poles or garishly colored flowers
in every corner of the room, on the walls, on the bed, on the knobs
of a dresser. There are some rooms I absolutely adore; some I’m
pretty ambivalent about.
But the thing is . . . this is real life, people. And this year,
as I browsed the displays of rooms, ambivalence mixing with excitement.
I was reminded of one of my favorite pastimes when I was younger.
My husband and I, still apartment dwellers, would get into the car
on a beautiful summer night and drive slowly through neighborhoods,
the affluent Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis, the Country Club
area of Edina, the middle-class neighborhoods, the rural small towns.
We were hoping for open draperies and lights on, so we could see
the interiors of homes. Dream a little bit, you know? We had our
favorite neighborhoods and homes, of course, but the bottom line
was that we were never disappointed when a window was open and we
could see inside. It’s always interesting to see how other
people choose to live within their spaces.
This is what I have the honor of viewing, every year in New York
City, at the Interiors by Decorating Den Contest. I get to see the
work of designers whose only goal is to make their clients happy—and
if that means a racecar bed and Indy 500 logos all over the walls,
so be it. And if that means the most drop-dead gorgeous, trendy
master bathroom ever—more power to you.
I love judging the Dream Rooms competition. It is one of the best
opportunities ever to see the interiors of America, from the middle
class to the powerful elite, all in one room, and best yet, all
the windows are open, and all of the lights are on.
These pages hold a few of my favorite interiors from this year’s
Kathleen Stoehr is president of Chemistry Creative, based in
Minneapolis, MN. She is a former editor-in-chief of Window Fashions
magazine and is the author of the recently published Dream Floors,
Hundreds of Ideas for Every Type of Floor, available from Randall
International. Stoehr can be contacted for comments, queries and
trend information at firstname.lastname@example.org.