Friday, April 17, 2009


Like most interior designers, I am a total showhouse addict. I love to see what other designers are thinking and how those thoughts are translating into new ideas for the decoration of houses. Generally speaking, showhouse rooms are not created for any specific client; a designer is totally unfettered when it comes to interpreting the images swimming in the forefront of his imagination. Thus, these houses are of unfailing interest to me because I can discover a bit of the current inspirations of my peers. Are they looking backwards, into historical interiors with document fabrics and aubusson rugs? Are they totally immersed in the current moment with clean lines, farmhouse sinks and blue grey walls? Or perhaps, are they off roaming the landscape of the future and, if so, just how do they see it?

As I read about New York City’s Kips bay Showhouse today, I must consider that, at least for a few of these artists, the future has become the present. Kips Bay has the reputation of being the creme de la creme of showhouses, consistently presenting top designers pulling out all the stops available. It is revered and highly publicized. And this year, it features a Panic Room. Windowless, with walls the colour of charcoal, it contains a disco ball hanging from the ceiling, a stainless steel toilet and a bearskin rug. I found this comically ironic and assumed it was meant to be so until I read the quote from the designer, William T. Georgis. When asked why we need a panic room Mr. Georgis replied, ”Do you read the papers? Economic mayhem, global warfare, take your pick. We have to hunker down, and where we do so has to be chic and comfortable”.

I shall set aside the question about this room being either chic or comfortable and consider this supposed need for mankind to “hunker down” . Really? Have we traveled that far full circle? How long till it is back to blood over the door and a necklace of garlic? Once, glowering gargoyles perched on rooftops to ward off evil spirits and moats encircled the manor house. Are we now to believe that those antediluvian fears have returned with such thunder as to force our retreat into prisons within our own houses? I am no Pollyanna - I read the same papers as those now altered by fear. I just refuse to bow to those headlines of doom. I much prefer to station round my home the safeguards of hope and faith, optimism and love. Strong guardians all, who will not allow panic into my house, let alone give him his own room.

Panic room? I am off to open my windows.

“I've seen the nations rise and fall
I've heard their stories, heard them all
but love's the only engine of survival”

from “The Future” by Leonard Cohen

Painting above: Princess Elizabeth in Prison by
Sir John Everett Millais


  1. Such good thoughts --yes we must be out and about and interacting with others.
    Fill our homes with joyful objects.
    Such a lovely spring day in NY
    Happy weekend to you all.

  2. Now more than ever we need to make our homes joyful.

    There is a little something for you over at my blog.

  3. Absolutely true Pamela, what you say. My "panic room", when I need one, is the countryside around my home, the green fields, the wood, the beck, the wild flowers, the birds. With so much beauty around us it is best to ignore the gloom and doom if we are powerless to do anything about it. Everything passes, things come and go, we need to concentrate on the love and the beauty in the world, and as Elizabeth says -interact with others to make a better world.

  4. Well said Pamela.
    I remember asking a very dear friend, who lives on his own in a remote neighborhood, if he was ever afraid - he said not at all and that if he were to appear fearful he would attract trouble. The old 'nothing to fear but fear itself' has worked for him and I adopt that principle myself when alone. Great post and have a wonderful weekend, xv.

  5. I am a believer of Positive thoughts, making lemonade from lemons and " there is nothing to fear except fear its self". Have a great weekend with the "kiddos".


  6. A beautiful post and very timely! I just read A Stopover in Venice...and I think you would like that book!

  7. I think the more we smile at our neighbors the better we will all feel. I wish for a return to wide front porches filled with comfortable furniture and smiling people visiting with one another over tall glasses of lemonade. I think a nice dose of that would do much to relieve any panic people might be feeling.

  8. Amen!
    What happened to the only thing we have to fear is fear itself?

    Seems to me this world needs calm and peace the very most, not running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

  9. I love this - you are very right!! I also adore that picture!! I hope your weekend is calm and wonderful!
    Sarah (Lucy Lu asked to say hello to Edward)

  10. I refuse to believe that this is the end of the world!
    I wake up every morning and give thanks for everything I have. My health, my husband, my children. No panic here!

    Happy weekend, Pamela.


  11. hmmm, to close oneself off is to is not full without all parts - the good and the bad - then we are alive....

  12. We need positive not negative. I'm opening my windows as well!

  13. How funny! I posted about a show house yesterday!!! Personally I don't need a room to panic as that is something that tends to happen to me so often that if I had to use a specific room to panic I would never leave the house!!!

  14. So do I my dear do I...And thats the reason for my blog being window to the world.

  15. Bunker down? It does indeed sound like a prison. One only has to look at history to realize that times have always been good and bad. It's a matter of where you look and what you do.
    Looking at the House of Edward is always a good way to start the day!

  16. You would just love all the interiors in the country houses and estates that we visit.

    You made a good and fun bunny.

  17. Is this for real P&E?!

    Sounds worse than one of our prison cells! I should think, if the end of the world is nigh, we could do with all the luxury we can get!!

  18. i just so happen , to not be in such a great place at the moment....
    so , that you would 'freak me out' just a tad.


    xx 's to you and prince edward

    BTW, my windows are open , and i am gardening to keep the boogy man away.

  19. I myself am have just recently been laid off so this recession has hit home for me. But despite being directly affected by this current situation I still have to go forward. I would prefer to do so with hope for the future and I want my home to be a place that helps provide me with the energy support, warmth and encouragement to go out and find a new job etc. My home is the place I can dream from and from these dreams better things will come!


  20. So true...each of us needs a panic room/space to calm our nerves when things get a little too much but I'd like to call it My Piece of Heaven.

    Interior Designers or not...Showhouses are so much fun to visit.

  21. It's a relief to know you at least will not succumb to the fears, and maybe your clients will get more for their money than stunning interiors. Maybe they'll see a free spirit who loves to live.

    I agree with Cait that this is the time for joy, and for helping each other.

  22. I think we need a balance, a comfortable place to rest, but plenty of time out in the world.

  23. Indeed, we do have some things in common!
    Edward and Gus look like they are related.
    Beautiful Place you have here.
    I shall be back.

  24. loved this post. panic room. go open your windows and i'll open mine. love that picture of edward! he is just too cute for words.

  25. Hi, I like your blog very much, is it allright when I add you to my blogroll?

  26. We are having the tendrils of cautious optimism in the press at the moment. The UK economy appears to be slowing out of free fall with some life in the houseing market. I am sure this wonderful Spring is helping lift everyone's mood.

    With this in mind if ever I had a panic room I think it would be sky blue with pink double flowering cherry trees made inside created/painted window shapes on pale green walls. I would want to feel less opressed by the place I'd be forced into by circumstance, rather than more by the charcoal walls you mentioned. I think a necessity would be books, puzzle books, coloured pencils and paper, and of course a sewing machine and fabric. After all I might wanto to make a quilt for the bed in there while I waited for the all clear. :-)

  27. So true Pamela. I am always saddened to see many houses in the poorer areas of Brooklyn with metal bars on every window -- they have made their home a fortress to keep the robbers out, but they have also made their homes a jail.

  28. I pick your room any day. I wonder if that designer is serious. Is he?

    Love Renee xoxo


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