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Transformation continues at Symphony Showcase home

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by Jan K. Allen

SBJ Contributing Writer

The 1999 Springfield Symphony Guild showcase home is located at 1463 South Virginia in the Phelps Grove Park area. Owners Ron and Robin Looney have temporarily moved out of the two-story brick colonial while local designers refurbish, paint, decorate and furnish the home from attic to basement.

The Springfield Symphony Guild began sponsoring the make-over projects in 1985 and has refurbished more than a dozen houses prior to the Looney residence. This method of fund raising is practiced by symphony guilds all over the United States, according to Libby Falk, who co-chairs this year's project with JoAnn Sarli.

The selection process begins months in advance. Guild members look for a new house or one that is ready for a complete makeover, Falk said. Sometimes it is hard to find the right property.

"We have to be selective. We want it to be spectacular or unique to draw a crowd," she said.

It also takes a willingness on the part of the owners to be dispossessed of their home during the renovation and the duration of the tour, set for May 8-23 this year, she added.

There are several special events related to the Symphony Showcase, including a preview party, by invitation only, May 7.

The evening will include dinner, catered by Clary's, at the studio of local sculptor Russ Rupert and his wife, Pam. Then, the evening will be topped off with a swing dance featuring Southwest Missouri State University's Jerry Hoover and his swing band at the Ruperts' studio/residence.

The house on Virginia is getting some wall murals done, along with the other decorating, which were started in advance of the rest of the work while the owners were still in residence.

"This part of the project takes too long to complete in the month allotted for the designers to do their magic," Falk said.

Once the owners vacated the property, the 19 selected designers began their work to decorate and furnish the interior. Designers met prior to starting the project to coordinate colors and ensure continuity in the flow of design from room to room.

The owners provided a list of color preferences and personal tastes to give the designers a frame of reference to work within.

The Looneys decided to stay with the traditional southern colonial interior, in keeping with the style of the home's exterior. They have chosen burgundy, lots of green and taupe for their color scheme.

While designers provide most of the furnishings and accent pieces, the property owners have selected a few of their own pieces of furniture to be reupholstered to match the new setting. The couple will pay for all paint, floor coverings and fixtures used in the renovation, and have an option to purchase any furnishings used in the project.

What the owners get for their trouble is materials at cost and free labor. This gives them the makeover at about 30 percent of what it would cost otherwise, Falk said. The Looneys have gone all-out and added some kitchen remodeling the package to, part of which they are taking care of themselves, outside of the contractual agreement with the Symphony Guild.

One unique aspect of this year's showcase home is its family connection. The house was originally built in 1963 for the Jack Ryan family. After two subsequent owners, the Ryans' daughter, Robin Looney, and her husband, Ron, purchased the property in 1996.

The 7,000-square-foot house, designed by Don Russell, has five bedrooms, three full baths and two half baths. The large attic will be designed as a children's playroom by the SMSU interior design department.

Volunteers from the guild house-sit while the work is in progress and staff the property during the tour, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday.

Besides the special events centered around the project, piano and violin music will be provided by Springfield high school students during certain show hours.

Groups who want to make the visit a day out on the town are invited to include lunch at the Tower Club before or after the tour. Reservations are required.

Advance tickets can be purchased from guild members or at the guild office, 1536 E. Division. The tickets are $8 per person and $6.50 each for seniors and groups of 10 or more. Tickets can also be purchased at the door for $10, and two-week passes are available for $20.

This is the biggest fund-raising event of the year for the Symphony Guild, with many volunteer hours going into the project. Brochures about the house and scheduled events may be picked up at the guild office.

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