Every other year since 1974, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Guild presents its annual Symphony Designer House. The guild chooses one of Little Rock’s finest homes to become the hub of several high-profile soirées over the course of one month. This year, the Designer House team, chaired by Paige James, chose number 8 Valley Creek View in west Little Rock to spruce up and debut at the Crescendo Preview Party on April 12.
The guild, which marks its 50th anniversary this year, started Designer House as a way to raise money for the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and its music education programs throughout the state. This combination of youth, music and design are what inspired James to join the guild eight years ago. That, and her mother being one of the guild’s biggest advocates.
“What’s special about this event is that it’s an event that’s going to last for an entire month,” James says. “In the middle of that month, you’re going to have multiple parties. It’s really kind of layered. It’s not just like ‘I’m going to have a party for a night.’ There are a lot of moving parts, so I think that’s what makes it kind of unique.”
During every Designer House year, designers descend on different areas of the house ranging in scale from a kitchen to a pantry, and they redesign the space as they choose. This year’s Designer House includes more than 8,500 square feet filled with five bedrooms and six and a half baths of design potential that some of the state's best designers will put their spin on, both indoor and out.
In the past, there have been themes for the designers to create around, but James purposefully decided to let the designers have a “free-for-all” this year while design chair Larry West Jr. pulls it all together.
“He is trying to work to make it more cohesive," James says. "There’s no stated theme. There have been other houses that have had a theme and I think that some of the designers we’re working with felt like that restricted them.”
By the time Crescendo rolls around, the kitchen will have been completely redone, there will be new carpeting, new flooring, new lighting, a new fireplace, new trim — James says the house will have a totally new look.
Other signature Designer House events include the Girls Night Out event on April 19 with signature drinks and fashion show. The Tres De Mayo party will also return to the Designer House lineup, offering an evening of festive food, salsa dancing and plenty of fun hosted by the ASO's young professionals group. Two new events this year include a Design Q&A about home design at PC Hardware and an outdoor yoga class at the Designer House.
Throughout the month, guests can drop in for daily tours of the grounds. Docents will be on duty to share design tips and tidbits with visitors, who can also stop by the on-site Concerto Café to enjoy lunch and tea or the Go for Baroque gift shop to peruse Arkansas gift items celebrating the state and the arts.
To snag your ticket for any of the Designer House events, head to the ASO Guild website.