With cups of tart lemonade in hand, about 250 design-loving Richmonders gathered on the banks of the James at Rothesay, this year's Richmond Symphony Orchestra League Designer House. The guests browsed the mammoth
— but completely empty — spaces, chatting with local designers about their secrets for transforming the rooms.
"Some of [the guests] fall down — they really do — and [are] overwhelmed when they come back and see the space done up," says designer David Allan Ballas.
"[Guests] will see what we have done and the magic we have created," Kat Liebschwager says. She is designing a trio of rooms on the third floor with her husband, Mike. "It almost becomes like one of those HGTV design shows."
A truly Richmond-in-August evening, it was close to 103 degrees outside, and many of the second-floor air-conditioning units were not yet installed.
But heat was not the only barrier attendees overcame, committee chair Joan Carlton says with a laugh. The day of the event, dubbed the Bare Bones Party, the city decided to do roadwork outside Rothesay, blocking guests from being able to park nearby. In addition, a thunderstorm drove guests inside for about 45 minutes, and there was even a brief power outage. "We are overcoming adversity — anything nature throws at us and the city," Carlton says. She adds that a team was out in the yard a few hours before the event, cutting down the "half of a tree" that had fallen. "This has become a labor of love for many people."
CALENDAR OF EVENTS (9/13 to 10/11)
Other events will be held at the Richmond Symphony Orchestra League Designer House.
- The Renaissance Gala at Rothesay will feature live jazz, food and wine on Sept. 10 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
- There will be a book signing by George C. Longest , author of Genius in the Garden: Charles F. Gillette and Landscape Architecture in Virginia on Sept. 26 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
- Come and Play invites you to lunch and to play mahjong and bridge in the Secret Garden Hall on Oct. 4.
- Lastly, there will be an auction , both silent and live, of all of the items in the house on Oct. 12.
Tickets to tour the house and grounds are $15 in advance, $20 starting Sept.13. No children under age 8 allowed. Open Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. 1234 Rothesay Circle. For ticket locations, go to rsol.org. For group ticket information, call Barbara Evers at 323-4174.