A life-size horse painted with flowers and a cupcake. Wire hangers reshaped into wall sculpture. Gutters repurposed as children’s book shelves.

Creativity flows from room to room at the 2013 Decorators’ Show House. Maybe it’s all that fresh air. This year’s Show House – the Knox Summer Estate at Knox Farm State Park – is located in a pastoral setting just outside the Village of East Aurora. It’s a place where park visitors cross-country ski during the winter and walk or run in the spring and where, in the property’s main house – which was in the Knox family for decades – people have been working tirelessly in preparation for this weekend’s Show House opening.

Decorators’ Show House, an event presented every other spring by the Junior League of Buffalo and The Buffalo News, has raised more than $3.4 million for local charitable projects since the first one opened in 1981. All but two have been located within Buffalo’s city limits.

Show House visitors will have plenty to see when the 17th Decorators’ Show House opens its doors to the public Saturday for its three-week run. More than 50 spaces – including rooms, hallways, closets and porches – have been transformed by local designers, painters, craftsmen, florists and other design pros and volunteers. Outdoors, the terraces and the Seymour H. Knox III Memorial Zen Sculpture Garden are not to be missed.

Many items will be for sale in the various rooms and there’s also the Paddock boutique to visit. As in other years, decorators buy, borrow and provide all the materials with many goods and services provided by community volunteers and businesses. Hundreds of volunteer hours go into this project. Everything is removed after Show House closes May 19.

One recurring theme: Shades of gray are found throughout – from paint colors to upholstery.

“It’s my favorite go-to color. I’ve been using it everywhere,” said designer Michael Poczkalski, while working on the modern, equestrian-themed great room.

“It’s the new neutral. It looks great with pinks, aquas and greens, and navy looks fantastic with it,” added Sandy Nelson, part of a design team that decorated the “Summer Sitting Room,” the former second-floor sleeping porch.

Not surprisingly, many decorators working their magic since March were inspired by the colors and views of Knox Farm State Park (New York State acquired the 633-acre park in 2000). The breakfast room with upholstered walls and even an upstairs bathroom flawlessly connect the indoors with the out, for example.

“I wanted to bring in the colors from outside – the blues and greens,” said Melissa Pleace, a first-time participant. She decorated the “Couple’s Sweet Retreat” master bathroom, which also features a wall mural of the property painted by local artist Victoria George.

Many decorators incorporated equestrian/polo themes in their spaces. “I think there’s a horse in every room,” laughed the Home Stylist’s Julie Dana, who decorated the playroom – a whimsical place in which gutters on walls form ledges for displaying children’s books, covers facing forward.

Each room will have a “before” picture to see, and each room also has a theme. Among them: “Country Idyll” a peaceful bedroom decorated by Murchison Interiors with birch trees painted by Kelly Mong on the walls flanking the fireplace. Another: “Reflections on a Dress,” decorated by the Dress Shop and inspired by the idea of a little girl entering the magical world of her mother’s walk-in closet.

Also found here: an office, sewing/fashion studio, tween bedroom, library, polo room, Sabres bedroom and more. Designers got particularly creative in small rooms. The Tile Shoppe at Homestone Gallery and Lisa DiCarlo of Urban Design LLC in East Aurora transformed a bathroom by using concrete and reclaimed materials.

Finally, while there are many details to digest in this Show House, there are some things visitors simply can’t miss. In addition to the 84-inch-tall, 87-inch-long horse in the great room, the nearby first-floor stone fireplace room holds another surprise for fans of the MacKenzie-Childs line of ceramics and home furnishings: a giant moose head in the Courtly Check pattern. The Cottage in East Aurora decorated the room.

Also large and memorable: The vibrantly patterned wallpaper in the second-floor laundry room. A painting of giant pansies by the daughter of designer Mary Terese Nasca in the butler’s pantry – a nod to the floral-patterned wallpaper that hung there when the late Symour H. Knox III and Jean Knox lived in the home.

And the oversized hand-painted “deconstructed” acanthus leaves on the walls and ceilings in the “Summer Sitting Room.”

“Super-sizing them brings them to life,” said designer Sandy Nelson.


Decorators’ Show House information

Following tonight’s Garden Party, where tickets were purchased in advance, the 2013 Decorators’ Show House opens to the public Saturday. At 14,400 square feet, it is the largest show house yet. Here is what you need to know:

Location: This year’s show house – the Knox Summer Estate at Knox Farm State Park – is located just outside the Village of East Aurora at 437 Buffalo Road.

Dates: Saturday through May 19.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays; 10 a.m to 4:30 p.m. Sundays. Mondays are for private tours only.

Tickets: $20 at the door or online at .

Parking: Visitors will be shuttled for free to the show house from various lots in the area. The Junior League’s website,, has detailed information. Check the website before your visit. No parking will be permitted in the main parking lot of Knox Farm State Park. People will be dropped off at the foot of the main driveway to the house, a distance of about 400 feet. Benches will be provided outdoors for those who need to sit while waiting in long lines.

Restrictions: No infants or children younger than 10. Photography not allowed. The event is not wheelchair accessible.

For more show house information: Visit or call 884-8865. For more information on the park and house, visit