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Home & Garden Special Section Archives The Altamont Enterprise, April 30, 2009

Vanguard home sounds a sensuous note for the environment,
bringing the outdoors inside with style

By Jordan J. Michael

LOUDONVILLE –– Imagine walking into a contemporary home and still feeling like you were outside.

The Vanguard Showhouse, a major fund-raiser for the Albany Symphony Orchestra, picked the perfect house in Loudonville to turn green for its 29th annual designer showhouse.

“Contemporary homes are usually environmentally friendly to begin with,” said design coordinator Barbara Richer. “We go scout out homes in the fall and this one was a crowd pleaser. The big windows in the house bring the outside in and you get that rich and comfortable feeling.”

Armand Quadrini purchased the property on 7 Hills Road in 2006 and has added 2,800 square feet to the house. Richer told The Enterprise that Quadrini turned the small ranch house built in 1951 to more of a contemporary home.

The 2009 showhouse is called “Rhapsody in Green: A Contemporary Home in Harmony with the Environment.” The showcase runs from April 28 to May 17. Multiple designers create spaces and put the pieces up for sale.

“There will be a book in each space that lists everything for sale,” said Richer. “Actually, the house is for sale as well. The items that don’t get sold stay with the owner, but there is no one living here. We’re hoping that everything gets sold.”

Vanguard raised about $76,000 for the Albany Symphony last year with an Arts and Crafts themed house.

“We have a lot of tradition here,” said showhouse Co-Chair Ruth Cook. “We’ve never really used green products before but the direction of this house pulled us toward more progressive ideas.”

The 22 designers and artists have used new products such as natural fibers, recycled paper, eco-friendly paints, and low wattage lighting. “The amount of lighting possibilities are astonishing,” Richer said.

No one can live in the showhouse from March 1 to June 1 because the designers need the space to work. “Everything is taken out of the house before the designers begin they’re work,” Cook said. “Even all the wallpaper is stripped down. We leave a clean slate.”

Letters from Vanguard are sent to certain designers around the Capital Region who look at the house over a two-day period.

“The designers vote on which spaces they would like most and a committee decides where they would fit best,” said Richer. “Then we spend about a month looking at design boards of each space. This determines the flow of the house.”

“The designers pretty much have the final say with their spaces, but they try really hard to please the owner,” Cook said. “Quadrini might not love all the designs but he’s relatively pleased. He’s trying to sell this house and I think this showcase will help.”

Richer and Cook took The Enterprise on a tour of the unfinished house. Many of the designers were on hand working.

“We asked the designers, ‘How can your space benefit the environment?’” said Richer. “They’ve answered that question with some amazing stuff. This is the first time that everything is environmentally conscious. It’s a great way to educate others and ourselves about going green. The designers took this and ran with it.”

The house has three sculptures by Bob Turan on the outside. The pieces were made of recycled parts, like a recycled purple bowling ball. Nancy Moore put a nice spin on an upstairs room, turning it into a lady’s study full of bright colors.

Denise Maurer used plenty of natural and sustainable products in the kitchen. The drapes and chandelier are made out of silk.

“I wanted to bring this whole Zen type of feel to the kitchen,” said Maurer. “I brought the outside in with twigs and wooden pieces and I have utensils and canisters made out of bamboo. I dropped the wattage of the lighting from 600 to 200. I’m learning new things every day I work here.”

The most interesting aspect about Patti Miller’s guest room is the transparent ghost chair.

“I wanted the guest room to be a retreat from the rest of the house and I started thinking about the sky, a winter sky,” Miller said about her creation. “You should have an inviting texture for your guest. I found a fabric and everything came together. It’s impossible to make everything green, but I tried.”

Rae Rau, of Guilderland, used a recycled sink for the bathroom off the entertainment room and turned it into Aurastone to match the other marble in the house. She used rolled newspaper for the baseboard and crown molding.

“Trying to find a new way to create a look is very exciting and it can be simple or crazy,” said Rau. “We all grew up learning all the old-school ways of designing, but now we’re learning all these new ideas that help the environment.”

Jae Schalekamp and Altamont’s own Lars Turin are working together on an art gallery café. Schalekamp is designing the space and Turin is adding five custom pieces of pottery.

Turin, a former art teacher at Guilderland, told The Enterprise that his pottery pieces will be greatly help by Schalekamp’s lighting and mood. “I think every space in this house is going for that Zen quality of art,” said Turin. “It’s really moving.”

This is Turin’s first year with the Vangaurd; Richer had visited his warehouse and asked Turin to be a resource after she saw his work.

“I do have to use a lot of energy to create my pottery, but I’ve recently switched to solar power,” Turin said. “I think every designer here is putting forth they’re best effort without over statement. It’s modern art aesthetic.”

 “The progressive learning curve changes with each house. I think this house had a green personality by where it was and how it was shaped,” said Cook. “It’s all about respecting the house by bringing it new life.”

“The designers have showed us what this house really is; we watched it come to life,” Richer said. “So many new and exciting things have been discovered in the process and we’ll use them in the future. I don’t think anyone could walk away from this house without an idea for they’re own home.”


For information and reservations to tour the Vanguard Showhouse, call 724-0357 or visit the website at www.vanguardshowhouse.com.

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