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Showhouse evokes lust, envy - and kindness

PALMA CEIA A walled Tudor is dolled up for admirers and two charities.

By Elizabeth Bettendorf Times Correspondent
Published October 19, 2007

The Mayfair Designer Showhouse, at MacDill Avenue and Agawan Street in Tampa, will be open through
Nov. 18.
[Kathleen Flynn | Times]

The 5,000-square-foot Mayfair charity showhouse opens to the public this month, and it's rich in history. The Tudor-style mansion, once known as the Hanley Home, was the site of the 1945 wedding of Florida legislator Sam Gibbons and Martha Hanley.

The stately walled home, a familiar landmark that once sprawled on seven lots in Palma Ceia and was visible from MacDill Avenue, was moved in 2006 to its current location, at MacDill and Agawan Street, as part of a residential development project.

"We wanted to position the house on a large enough piece of property, so we put it on two lots and positioned it with the proportionate amount of space around it," says Tommy Lamb, a residential designer and partner in the redevelopment and restoration of the home. "The house was essentially rotated 90 degrees. As it turns out, people driving south on MacDill still see the familiar facade of the house."

From Oct. 27 to Nov. 18, the home will be transformed into an interior design mecca, a dazzling showcase for some of the best designers and artisans in the Tampa Bay area.

Proceeds from the $20 tickets will benefit the Bolesta Center and the Spring of Tampa Bay. There are 19 dedicated design spaces, from a luxury guest suite to an entertainment room to a tween bedroom to an elegant room for a small child. Even the hallways are considered design worthy.

"Feel this wall. It's like some kind of marble," said Kim Hanna, executive director of the Bolesta Center, a nonprofit organization that gives children who are deaf and hard of hearing the tools for speech and language development.

Artist Jeff Monsein spent three weeks creating his trademark walls, so smooth that he once had a client tell him she wanted to "get naked and rub against it."

For the Mayfair house, Monsein created the effect with hand-polished, golden nugget Venetian plaster with faux marble woodwork below.

His ceilings are gold and silver leafed; the chandelier - a beauty from Paris Flea - an exercise in luxe hip. Monsein, who partnered with Paris Flea to create the front entrance to the home, says their goal was to create "rich opulence in an old European setting."

Though the house was moved to a busy street, it was placed on the lot in such a way that guests not only feel secluded but don't hear traffic. Lamb, the showhouse design coordinator, says he unified the overall look by choosing the molding and trim color throughout the house, but otherwise wanted each designer's individuality to shine.

"We really love the house and the fact that they saved this home rather than tear it down," said Ashley Moran, who, along with her sister-in-law, Patti Thomas, co-owns the South Tampa store Lil' Peeps. The pair is decorating the showhouse nursery in a theme of soothing blue and cream.

"Because it's an older house and we wanted to maintain the integrity of it, we went for a more monochromatic look, but still more over the top than a typical nursery," Moran said. In particular, the second-floor nursery is distinguished by an alcove nook, which Moran says will be transformed into a "cozy play area" cloaked behind an ethereal, sheer flower petal curtain that hangs from a wooden crown. There's even a subtle chandelier embellished with birds. The crib is washed in a hue of creamy Versailles gold complete with caning and cherubs.

"The armoire will have the same finish. It's really beautiful," Moran said.

Stephen Gay, the owner of Casa Nova, a South Tampa home furnishings store, paired with interior decorator Pam Iannacio to turn the great room into a classic modern-transitional space. The room is notable for its original wood beams, tile floors and lodgelike fireplace.

"We chose an urban color scheme of paprika, chocolate and lime green that will juxtapose off the traditional furniture," says Gay, who also is on the Spring's board of directors.

Everything designers place in the house will be for sale to the public. Visitors may buy the bedspreads, window treatments and furniture, and a portion of the sales will go to both charities.

Visitors may also buy the showhouse. Hanna, the Bolesta Center director, says 5 percent of the price tag - about $2,675,000, according to the home's owner - will be shared by both charities as well. Hanna, who for years organized the Florida Orchestra showhouses in Tampa, says the partnership between Bolesta and the Spring is ideal, because she brings the logistical expertise to the table while the Spring brings the manpower "and the ability to pull together great committees."

"I've worked with a lot of these designers before, and it's very interesting to see how their work has evolved," Hanna says.

"For designers who don't have their own showrooms, participating in something like this gives them a lot of visibility. But we definitely couldn't have pulled together a showhouse without the wonderful group of designers like we have in Tampa."

Elizabeth Bettendorf can be reached at

 If you go

The Mayfair Designer Showhouse, at MacDill Avenue and Agawan Street, will be open Oct. 27 through Nov. 18. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. the last tickets will be sold at 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Tickets are $20 and available at the door. For group sales, call (813) 932-1184, ext. 21.


[Last modified November 9, 2007, 17:09:00]

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