Serial Killers and Draperies: Showtime Showhouse

The rooms in the new Metropolitan Home/Showtime showhouse are so exciting I'd put up with a lot to live with the imaginary owners. I mean, I'm cool with pot, no big deal. If you're into bondage, maybe just keep it in your bedroom. But once you're wrapping chicks in Saran wrap ... I have my limits.

Yup, sex, drugs and murder are not usually on the top of your inspiration-list when decking out a new pad, but those were some of the themes behind the rooms in the super-cool new showhouse set up in two, Tribeca penthouse apartments in New York. The designers were primarily young, first-time show-housers, and with a Showtime series as their inspiration, they went all-out with some pretty ingenious designs. This was not your grandmother's uptown showhouse (you know who you are Kip's Bay).

Now, I know we can't all afford an interior designer; half-million-dollar LED TV curtain (like the one here in the Marie Aiello-designed "Dexter" room), or even a penthouse, for that matter, but we can take away some ideas on how be more inventive with our own spaces. Here's a tour of the rooms highlighting the best creative take-aways. (Oh, and you can go, too, more after the flip.)

Video: Californication Bedroom | Hank's Hideaway | Californication Retreat | Dexter's Conflict

Can I Move In Mary-Louise Parker?

My favorite space hands-down was the lounge and bath designed by New York interior designer Paul Latham. It was also the one with some of the most-brilliant, budget ideas. Latham's designed for Lenny Kravitz and P-Diddy so maybe he's cool with a little toke or two, but his space took the "Weeds" theme to a higher level. He used deep-forest-green walls as a backdrop for a gorgeous custom-designed white sofa with a sexy silhouette. And the room was cleverly sprinkled with earth- and pipe-references.

  • The most high-impact element in the room was the homemade screen hanging behind the sofa (above). Latham took a print of a landscape painting in The Brooklyn Museum and had it blown up, split into three and framed. Totally cheap, awesome art. Instead of framing a poster of a masterwork, make it your own. I heart Paul.
  • He bought a antique smoking pipe collection on eBay and not only displayed them on trays on the shelves, but also took beautiful abstract photographs of them and hung them in the bathroom (as seen through the doorway). Easy, and budget-friendly idea. The trick is to put them in matching frames and hang them symmetrically.
  • He put green, plastic AstroTurf down on the bathroom floor. How fun is that? And pretty practical, too. It contrasted with the white tile and made for a great, decorative wink.

  • On the opposite side of the room, the TV stand was constructed out of simple, chrome-piping, topped with glass shelves. Great DIY project. The industrial edge keeps the room from becoming too precious.
  • The huge, tree-root table is an amazing sculptural element in the room and goes to show that anything can be turned into a table just by topping with a marble slab (or glass).
  • The wall behind the shelves is covered with a floor-to-ceiling curtain - a clever way to give the illusion of windows and brighten the space.
  • Latham placed a mirror against the wall, behind the root table, a great idea to copy. A simple mirror without a frame opens up small space like this one, and here reflects the light from the window opposite.

If You're Lookin' to Get Kinky You Came to the Right Bedroom
Architect Markus Dochantschi, who's designing a school in Malawi for Madonna's foundation, created a glossy-white bedroom inspired by David Duchovny's womanizing writer in "Californication" (below). Like a lot of sleek, modern design, many of the elements are built in and decoration is minimal, but it's full of sex appeal (shouldn't every bedroom be?) and smart ideas.

  • The bed platform would require a bit of work, but what a simple, elegant, and hey, sexy idea for a bedroom. (It's difficult to see in the photo since the room is so white, but behind the two armchairs is a waist-high "stage" the mattress sits in.) This obviously requires a bit of work, but if constructed so it can come apart, it could work for a rental. And think of all the out-of-season clothes you could store under there.
  • The broken-mirror ceiling was designed so the character could see himself and his partners from every angle while they get kinky in bed. That's cool, but maybe too permanent for a rental. But the concept is similar to the fun-house mirror trend we covered recently.
  • The mobile (above right) is covered with photos of positions from the Kama Sutra. Another great idea that could be replicated with binder clips, fishing line, wire and photos/magazine/book clippings.

Or Shall We Head to My Other Bedroom

Each show got multiple spaces so designer Joanah Kornak for Holly Hunt also created a "Californication"-inspired bedroom. The bedroom itself didn't wow, but the hallway was covered in cork wallpaper and carved-wood, Indonesian swans did. Square sheets of cork are easy to find and they could make a boring hallway space useful. Instead of a guestbook, keep a Polaroid camera at the ready and cover the wall with shots and notes from your visitors.

Dining with Destiny

Italian designer Nicoletta Canesi of Lissoni Associati gave King Henry VIII a bit of glam in her dining room inspired by "The Tudors." She sprinkled a few more Swarovski crystals than I'd want to live with, but I dug her attempt to funk up the 15th-century. I love the way she dripped primary-color paint on the chairs in what's otherwise a very neutral room. (The chair fabric and rug were custom-printed with portraits of Henry's wives.) And what an easy and dramatic centerpiece: Everyone looks great in candlelight.

Off With Their Other Heads
Former fashion designer turned interior designer/architect/industrial designer Richard Mishaan took a very different approach to "The Tudors." He envisioned a masculine study for the 17-year-old king with subtle regal notes. The gray and black color scheme is punctuated with red, tapestry-like pillows and Damien Hirst's incredible "Superstition Series" paintings (from the Mishaan's own collection), which hint at stain-glass windows. The painted border gives the room it's truly royal air and is a smart way to add zest to an otherwise monotone room. If you don't want to paint your rental because you'd rather avoid the trouble of painting it back when you move, then this is the lazy way to get some punch. Could Mishaan be bringing borders back? Very daring.

Cult of Personality

Chicago designer Kara Mann had a challenge designing for the multiple-personality-afflicted character in "The United States of Tara." As you would expect, both designer's rooms were a little disjointed. But I loved Mann's nerve. That's one hot conversation piece. Marilyn Minter's "Chewing Pink" photo, hung right on the wall without a frame, gives the whole room attitude. Bigger is better.

Poppin' Fresh Hallway
Andrew Kotchen and Matthew Berman of Workshop/APD put together a "Nurse Jackie"-inspired hall and waiting room with a crazy-awesome twist. How cool are these medicine bottles stuck to the walls?! And they even installed lights into some of them. Your friends would probably think you were a total pill-popper but screw them, it's fun. You could even spell things out like "Xanax loves me," and freak everyone out.

So the take home from Metropolitan Home's Showtime Showhouse? Go crazy! And go see it! The showhouse is open to the public Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 18 at Manhattan's Tribeca Summit Loft Condominiums, tickets are $20 and benefit Housing Works.

All photos courtesy of Metropolitan Home's Showtime House 2009.
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