Schenectady County

Designer house open for tours as ASO benefit

Working on a tall ladder, Rudy Grant of Schenectady’s Experience and Creative Design carefully secur

Working on a tall ladder, Rudy Grant of Schenectady’s Experience and Creative Design carefully secured round mirrors to the high wall of the Niskayuna home’s entryway.

Aside from the presumed efforts to protect everyone’s luck through careful mirror and ladder placement, Grant worked on creating an entryway worthy of his previous work, and worthy of the Vanguard-Albany Symphony’s annual Designer Showhouse.

“We want to make that exciting as people come into the front door and leaving them with a lasting impression as they go out,” Grant said last week during a break.

Grant, of Experience, on Union Street, is one of many designers who worked on this year’s Showhouse.

The event will be open for tours Tuesdays through Sundays through May 16 as a fundraiser for the Albany Symphony Orchestra. Tickets are $18. This year marks the 30th year for the fundraiser.

The Vanguard organization transforms one house each year using top area designers and decorative painters. Funds are raised through admission and sale of furniture and other items used to decorate the homes.

This year’s home is a departure in a number of ways. It is only the second home to be located in Schenectady County; in 2000, the showcase home was on Union Street. The home is also new, where most of the previous tours took place in older homes.

The Niskayuna house has 4,200 square feet on its top two floors, with another 1,400 on its lower level. Designers largely have their own rooms to work with.

Each year also has a general theme, this year’s being “Simply Beautiful — A Modern Classic.” The theme took its cue from the house, modern in a classic style, organizers said.

“It looks like a very classical kind of home,” house design coordinator Barbara Richer said, “but it does have all the bells and whistles and the updates of a very modern home inside.”

The house is for sale and already has buyers lined up. They get a choice of what furniture and other show items they want to buy.

unique work

Grant previously worked on the Vanguard home in 2005, also working on the foyer. That work made its way onto the cover of a design book.

But the work in the house is more than just furniture and items. Walls that were white have been changed to works of art. The dining room, done by Elizabeth Rae Interiors, includes walls that are black on the bottom, with a faint painted landscape on the top. The black walls pick up the color from the railing to the upstairs nearby.

In the kitchen, Rich/Art Interiors of Queensbury was responsible for redoing the walls. Richard Bresette created what he called an awning stripe pattern, using several layers of paint to give the appearance of texture, and even molding, on the flat surface.

Bresette said it makes him smile when someone has to touch a wall to see if it’s really textured. “I like those beautiful discoveries.”

This is the third consecutive year Bresette has worked on the Vanguard Showcase home. Doing the homes gives designers a chance to help the Albany Symphony, to show their work to the public and to get a lot of different design ideas in the public eye.

Organizers even get calls years later from those who have seen the houses, asking who did what detail.

“In a residential house, it’s so private, it’s usually for the homeowner,” Bresette said. “This way, a lot of people can see the different styles of interiors and they can be inspired by them.”

The house is at 245 Menlo Park Road in Niskayuna, with free parking next door. Admission is $18. Lunch, catered by the Old Daley Inn is offered for $12 Tuesday through Friday; call 724-0357 for reservations.

There are also seminars with designers and artists, and a boutique on site with crafts and other items for purchase.

For more information and reservations, call 724-0357, or visit

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