There have been alot of posts recently about showhouses in DC and other cities and it has me wondering about about the classic debate:

Should a showhouse be a cohesive presentation of beautiful but somewhat predictable design or should it push the boundaries and go for the wow factor, even if the rooms don't flow? When it comes to the wow factor, where do you draw the line between unique and innovative and too edgy and impractical?

Considering the expense, in today's economy it's understandable why designers may choose to create rooms that potential clients can relate to. In fact, some people prefer the showhouse that's not too far from what they could imagine in their own home. But, when is it that too conventional?

I think this 2009 Hamptons Designer Showhouse sitting room designed by Ellen Hamilton Design pushes the boundaries of safe in very successful and exciting way. The large scale Osborn and Little wallpaper by Suzy Hoodless is matched with the strong colors of the upholstery, carpet and drapes for a very exhuberant and committed look.
(First image via Emily Evans Eerdman, second and third image via The Smoking Nun, photographer unknown)
For me, this dining room designed by Marshall Watson, is pushed past beautiful to fascinating by the seagrass shades dripping with illuminated glass balls, the black outdoor lantern sconces, the oversized wire urns and the tobacco glazed and stenciled walls. Chair slipcovers are embroidered with guest names and even the uber-wide edging on the carpet strays from the trend for a narrow band.

So , if you were forced to make a choice between only two options, which one would you prefer:

(1) the wow factor, even if it means some impractical design and rooms that don't flow together
(2) beautiful design, even if it means more predicatable rooms with few surprises

If you fondly remember a designer showhouse room that achieved a great balance between the wow factor and relatable design, please mention it in your comment or leave a link. I'm curious to hear what you think...

For a complete virtual tour of the 2009 Hamptons Designer Showhouse by Edge MediaRE go here.