June 15, 2006 at 7:40 a.m.
The finished product is opened up for paid admission and for special events-- with proceeds going to the SecondHarvest food shelf programs, the Junior League, Jeremiah Program and other charities.
For our local designer, having a creative hand in a $9 million property on Lake Minnetonka was like qualifying to drive a car in the Indy 500...diving the Great Barrier Reef...or preparing the menu for Tavern on the Green...well you get the idea.
Sheree Vincent has been designing her whole life; she was the kid who fearlessly, and frequently, re-arranged or repainted her bedroom.
Vincent’s firm FusionDesigned has been keeping her busy for some 14 years, but this experience was over the top. For one thing she was able to mingle and brainstorm with over 50 designers, who toil en masse-and-apart for months prior to the showcase property opening to the public. This year-- which was the 10th anniversary of the Showcase Home -- the event ran May 13 through June 11.
Vincent also found the interaction with the public a terrific learning opportunity. She spent three days of the tour schedule as “designer of the day” remaining on site, and even brought champagne for the last weekend of the tours pouring (small servings) to celebrate.
The Wayzata property utilized for the benefit was an English Cotswold-styled home and its lakeside cottage.
Vincent said her first preference for a space to design was not what she ended up getting, but everything worked out beautifully anyway.
Specializing in feng shui design, Vincent said of the English country home architecture, “Were there feng shui challenges? Absolutely.”
But the dwelling structure offered elements that are fundamental to feng shui’s organic principles (stone, woodwork) so her ultimate design echos the house itself.
Plus, nature, which is the basis for feng shui principles of flowing and organic design, literally surrounded the space she was designing.
The volunteer designers begin their efforts about nine months out from the opening of the event. The colors are selected working with the show case committee and narrowed down to six or seven that the property owner approves. From that point Vincent and a student-assistant Wendy Carr, chose fabric and furniture materials that comprise a “design board” which is presented to the owner for approval.
Approximately 90 days out from the event the designers are hustling to complete their spaces. By March they’d better be putting on the finishing touches.
Vincent “borrowed” accessories, furniture, etc. from various businesses and was off and running.
Because Minnesota offers such a brief span of time when you can actually, comfortably enjoy the outdoors, Vincent thinks many eyes were upon her outdoor space, and there were many inquiries and comments. “Everybody loved it, it was such fun to be there.”
The property owner has the option of purchasing anything designers use. Items that normally stay with a house-- kitchen and bath fixtures, etc. do remain in the home. Vincent said the property owner receives an estimated $800,000 worth of design time from the team. So, it’s a great event that leaves participants with a positive feeling.
Vincent does commercial and residential interior design. And, she will be in school quite a bit this fall as she’s scheduled to teach design courses at Century College and is presenting at a number of special events in coming months.
She loves to use feng shui principles in everyday spaces; like her course for teachers on classroom feng shui design. “You can enhance the ability to learn” by how a classroom is laid out, she explains. The location of the teacher’s desk can either inhibit or promote control.
The comfort level of a space, the efficiency, the environment, all affect who we are, Vincent continued. “I can do a design for $100 or $1,000. It’s all about enhancing lives. I am so happy when I walk away from a job knowing that I have designed a space people want to be in or knowing that they enjoy where they live.”
Vincent says feng shui, “...gave a language to what I already knew my whole life.” She describes feng shui as the soft gentle breeze compared to the straight line wind. It’s about soft, flowing shapes and avoiding harshness. “It doesn’t have to look ‘Asian,’ it doesn’t have to cost a ton of money, it’s about manipulating the space you have” to enhance energy not deplete it.
Vincent, who resides in Wyoming, can be contacted at fusiondesigned.com or 651-462-2132.