Northeast Designers’ Challenge.


Cathy Glass, Allied ASID, is president of Construction Concepts. Corp.of Stamford and the first East Coast interior designer to be chosen for the Home & Garden network’s Designers’ Challenge. Cathy’s interior renovation of a Wilton home will be broadcast 10-12 times on HGTV this fall.

Home & Garden Television, which is distributed in 80 million U.S. households, is one of the fastest-growing networks in cable television history. HGTV Designers’ Challenge is the network’s most popular program segment. The weekly half-hour series follows one homeowner per episode through the exhilarating decision-making process of selecting from among three designers’ room renovation plans, created just for the homeowner. Each Thursday evening at 9:30 PM, 1-2 million viewers watch as the chosen designer brings about a fabulous new look for the room.

Designers’ Challenge Comes East

Last year, Wilton homeowner, Eileen Schneidman e-mailed HGTV with a request that they consider her home for Designers’ Challenge.

“We know you typically don’t film outside the Los Angeles area,” she wrote, “ but we hope you will consider us for an episode of Designers’ Challenge. We are a family of five (we’re both 37 & have three children ages 8, 5 and 1) living in Wilton CT, one hour from NYC. Wilton has one and two acre zoning, rolling countryside, tons of stone walls, ponds and old graceful trees.”

Eileen Schneidman explained that although she and her husband had completely renovated the exterior of their 1968 Dutch colonial, “the kitchen remained in its original glory, with chocolate brown appliances, dark stained pine cabinets, mustard countertops and a yellow linoleum floor.”

A half bath and laundry area, both next to the kitchen, were also in need of TLC. The Schneidmans wanted to create a mudroom as well.

“Our budget is $100,000,” Eileen said in her e-mail.

“The kitchen area is a large space but is dark, so our main objective is to maintain the spaciousness and significantly lighten it. French doors lead out to our deck, which overlooks mature trees and a pond. We are willing to spend money on well-designed

1cabinetry, granite countertops, top-of-the line appliances and hardwood flooring. We expect to stay in this home for decades and want our purchases to last. We like rich reds and sunny yellows, comfortable furniture, uncluttered surfaces and family-friendly design. We do a lot of informal entertaining and even in its current dismal state, the kitchen is still a gathering place.”

The Schneidmans’ timing was perfect. HGTV had just begun traveling shows, and much to their surprise and delight, HGTV chose the Schneidmans’ remodeling project.

Last fall, HGTV solicited three outstanding Fairfield County interior designers, interviewed them and outlined the project. When HGTV producers Pie Town Productions asked Cathy Glass to be a contender for the upcoming Wilton project, she was not surprised that it included a kitchen.

“People are staying at home and entertaining more,” she explained, “and the kitchen has become the most important room in the house.”

The Schneidmans met with all three selected companies, and chose Construction Concepts for their remodeling project.

“We were clearly impressed by Construction Concepts’ experience,” said Eileen Schneidman. “Cathy really did her homework. She studied how we live and what we like in fabrics, stone, flooring, lighting and accessories. The others met with us once and jumped right into the final presentation, but Cathy took a lot of time without knowing if we would choose her. Construction Concepts layout was a much better use of space than the other designers, and it helped that Cathy and Jeffrey Glass were a team with Jeffrey representing the BUILD aspect of the job.”

Jeffrey Glass is a certified Graduate Master Builder, one of only three in Connecticut, and he is a Certified Graduate Remodeler with 30 years of construction experience. CCC’s Vice-President of Design, Todd Forcellina has been designing award winning new homes and renovations for Construction Concepts Corp. for 14 years. The Schneidman’s felt that by offering architectural design, construction and interior design in one company, Construction Concepts would be more efficient and could save them time and money.

Cathy Glass approached the job, a kitchen/powder room/mudroom/laundry room renovation, as she would any other.

“We met with the Schneidmans; reviewed a detailed questionnaire that we had requested they fill out; and then created a plan that would give them everything they wanted to achieve in the space.”

But that doesn’t tell the whole story.

“Cathy made our budget go so much further in the way she negotiated the job with the vendors,” said Eileen Schneidman. “She pulled together so many different vibrant colors, and it all works. We got exactly what we wanted. There is nothing like this kitchen, and Construction Concepts completely personalized each space so that it’s truly ours.”

One-of-a-kind details

• A quilt-like watercolor, commissioned for the project from a local artist, became the inspiration for the renovation. Its vibrant color and juxtaposition of 19th century houses in the landscape gives a traditional theme a contemporary twist.

• A rendering of the client’s home is hand painted on the bottom frame tiles of the powder room mirror, turning this custom feature into a unique heirloom.

• Five Ralph Lauren cream ware plates, representing the five members of the Schneidman family, hang on the deep sky blue mudroom wall.

• On the wall outside the laundry room (also visible from the kitchen), three shadow boxes are stacked vertically from ceiling to floor. Each shadow box contains one of three infant hospital gowns, saved from each of the three Schneidman children at birth. Beneath each gown is an engraved plaque with the child’s name. These 3-D sculptures, hung with fish wire, appear animated, and add one final memory feature to a renovation that is uniquely personal.

Less than one month after the renovation was completed, the Schneidmans hosted a party for over 100 of their friends and family. “Our new space is phenomenal to entertain in,” said Eileen Schneidman in summing up her feelings about the new kitchen. “Cathy really personalized the space. She managed to make it a showpiece while totally reflecting our personalities.”

This remodeling project changed a dark, outdated, claustrophobic kitchen into a boldly striking, open and light filled space that is traditional with a contemporary twist. It functions beautifully and has become the heart of this home.

Blurring the boundary between fashion and home décor

Fashion designers like Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan have crossed over to home décor, and the boundary between the two design specialties has become blurred. After 20 years in the fashion industry, including several years as a Vice-President of Liz Claiborne’s Russ & Aileen Sportswear divisions, Cathy Glass founded the full service firm, Construction Concepts Corp. in 1990.

Cathy explains, “All the design areas are interconnected, and fashion does steer how we dress as well as how we live and design our environments. Outfitting a room is not unlike outfitting a person. Just like the feeling you get when wearing something that suits you, I try to create home environments that fit my clients’ personalities like a second skin.”

Designers’ Challenge client, Eileen Schneidman, described her wardrobe as casual and leaning a little towards the funky. “I’m very active and I love color, but I need something I can be comfortable in,” said Eileen.

Cathy Glass took her cue from this young mother’s fashion style and translated it into a bold, energetic and winning interior design the entire family can enjoy.

When the final filming was completed, Cathy received a large bouquet of flowers from HGTV with the note, “Cathy, thanks again for all your hard work on the Schneidman project. Your professionalism and thoroughness are evident, and the rooms look amazing! Thanks again, Eric, Ashley and the Designers’ Challenge staff.”

Cathy Glass, President Construction Concepts Corp. Tel. (203) 325-8102 E-mail Web site

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One Comment

  1. Posted October 13, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    I found this exciting and interesting.

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