By John Schaffner

The 2009 Decorators’ Show House & Gardens, the 39th annual fundraising event for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Learning Community, offers two firsts for Buckhead and Atlanta: the first public peek at the high-price lifestyle of the St. Regis Residences Atlanta and the first time the event has featured high-rise condominium living.

The Atlanta Symphony Associates (ASA), the 450-member volunteer organization that supports the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO), is holding the 2009 Decorators’ Show House & Gardens at the St. Regis Residences, which officially opened at 88 W. Paces Ferry Road on April 14.

The Show House is in three homes of the St. Regis Residences: two on the 11th floor and one on the 12th floor. In a break from Show House tradition, the three residences have separate design themes: traditional, contemporary or transitional.

Twenty-seven of Atlanta’s top interior and landscape designers decorated the 25 design spaces within the three condo units.

Matthew Quinn of Design Galleria Kitchen & Bath designed all the kitchens and baths in the three Show House units and said his firm’s designs are reflected in all but four of the 53 St. Regis condos.

Design Galleria has taken part in the Show House for 15 years.

All of the kitchens and baths are different, Quinn said, even though some floor plans are similar. For example, he said he used three different tile companies for the three Show House units.

He said the modern unit has high ceilings and an enclosed hotel stairwell that inspired his use of modern materials. He pointed to an unusual back splash in that unit.

The inspiration for the transitional unit’s kitchen was the discovery of a gray color for the cabinetry that went well with the white tiles. He said that model is the only one with wall cabinets; the other kitchens have a combination of tall cabinets and base cabinets.

“We always love doing the Show Houses,” Quinn said. “It is a great charity. Lots of people come through the house. Why people love kitchens in show houses is because it is the only room where they can touch things. We encourage people to open every drawer.”

Dan Belman and Randy Korando of Boxwoods Gardens & Gifts were selected to design the outside living room of the contemporary residence, Unit 1130. Boxwood has participated in the Show House for more than a dozen years and has contributed more than $100,000 to the ASO program through its gift shop at the event, Boxwoods Too.

The inspiration for their design was the use of outdoor fabrics, Korando said. “Contemporary old Hollywood glam is what we were looking for.”

They used a boat-deck nonslip material to create a pattern on the tile flooring. Belman said Korando draped all of the walls “because it is supposed to be an outdoor living room, not a balcony. It really brings the inside out, rather than the outside in.”

On one side the area has a fireplace flanked by two upholstered chairs and on the other end a barbecue grill, which the duo enclosed in a tall piece of wood furniture with doors.

A circular seating area in the middle of the room lets people sit there and carry on conversations with people throughout the space and allows easy movement.

The two designers have worked on interior rooms as well in years past but returned to the roots of their business for this year’s event.

“The Show House generally is one big Buckhead mansion,” Belman said. “This time it is three units, each one in the $4 million-plus range.”

Those attending get to see three of each type of living space, and “they have basically every known name designer in Atlanta for this job,” he added. “Everybody does a room.”

Belman said: “What is really amazing is that every year it really flows. The colors we are using are neutralish and very crisp.”

The Show House is the longest-running event of its kind in the Southeast. “The ASO Show House is truly a one-of-a-kind event,” said Martha Perrow, the 2009 Show House chair. “Not only does it showcase Atlanta’s finest interior and landscape designers, but its proceeds help provide music education programs for youth all over the Southeast.”

In 2008, more than 1,000 volunteers gave their time to staff the event, which attracted more than 10,000 visitors.

“Although this year’s Show House differs from the traditional estate location, we are thrilled at the opportunity to participate in one of the first events held at the St. Regis Atlanta,” Perrow said. “The luxury offered by the highly anticipated St. Regis Residences, coupled with the rising trend of in-town living, makes this year’s Decorators’ Show House & Gardens an event not to be missed.”