Shedding light on decor

Interior designer helps illuminate Home Show 2001

Posted: Tuesday, March 13, 2001

Simple improvements, such as lighting, can make a home fit the needs of its residents.

That's the philosophy of interior designer Mathew Laney, who is putting together showroom concepts for this year's Home Show at Centennial Hall on Saturday and Sunday. The theme of this year's show is, "2001: A Home Odyssey," and will include about 70 vendors, from banks and builders to city and state regulators.

Laney has been hired by the Home Builders Association of Juneau to set up showrooms featuring home offices, a home theater, a solarium and a garden.

"Lighting is one of the first issues I look at when I go on a project," said Laney, owner of M. Culbert Laney Interior and Landscape Design. "In most cases, there is a deficiency in illuminating the nice artwork and furniture people already have."

Laney's home at 939 Glacier Ave. doubles as his showroom. When he rented the two-bedroom house a few years ago, Laney decided to let there be light - and lots of it.

His solarium on the front porch has about 30 halogen track lights as well as natural light to help bring out the colors of the ivy, ferns and other plants. It has three fountains to muffle the sound of traffic on nearby Glacier Avenue.

The home theater in his basement also has small track lighting, but it's used more to obscure than illuminate. The lights, controlled by the same remote used to operate his 43-inch Theaterview television, spotlight areas on the floor as well as the green velvet theater curtains separating the room from work areas.

As in his greenhouse, sound is important. Only in this case it's in the form of a 1,500-watt, 10-speaker audio system that literally shakes the entire house.

His living room has 22 light fixtures, from chandeliers and globes to lamps and picture lights. Laney collects oil paintings, which he said can look beautiful in a gallery but disappointing in a home if not properly illuminated.

"Turn off the picture lights and they lose their true beauty," he said while flipping the switch for the fixture above an abstract painting of colored spheres. "It's almost all about lighting."

Laney's philosophy on interior design and landscaping will be on display in the Hickel Room and the small lobby area outside. Laney will create his showrooms with help from other vendors at this year's Home Show.

"I will take portions of my home theater and put it in one corner, Competitive Edge is providing furniture for my advanced home office and Lyle's (Home Furnishings) is providing furniture for the more casual family home office," Laney said. "Alaska Renovators is providing me with a solarium, which I will fill with some of my greenhouse plants. Outside the solarium I plan to build a small garden with spring flowers, water and fountain features."

Pam Brewer, executive director of the Home Builders, said the showroom displays are always popular at the Home Show, which is in its 23rd year.

"The Home Show is probably one of the biggest events in Juneau because it touches on something for everyone," Brewer said. "People looking for something new can find a lot of products and ideas in one place. From Sheetrock, electrical and plumbing down to furniture and TV sets, whatever goes into a house, it's all under one roof."

Home Show hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. There will also be the annual Tour of Homes, set for 9 a.m. and noon Saturday.

"Two of the homes are newly remodeled and three are brand new custom-built," HBA president Kelly Stephens said. "They include all price ranges, roughly from $98 to $150 a square foot, and feature lots of different looks and different ideas."

The $20 admission price for the guided home tour includes bus transportation as well as the $5 entry fee into the Home Show. Princess Tours is also providing bus transportation to the show both days, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., from the downtown parking garage to Centennial Hall.

Stephens, who owns Superior Builders, said his association is always looking for ways to better serve Juneau families.

"The Home Show is a great way to gather all the businesses involved in our industry in one spot for the entire weekend so that people can come down there and talk with everyone," Stephens said.

As for this year's theme, "2001: A Home Odyssey," Stephens said the Home Builders try to bring new construction, building and home renovation technology to Juneau. He recently attended a home show in Atlanta, where he saw "a square mile" of products and ideas.

"There are things that nobody is aware of here," Stephens said. "Part of our goal at this home show is to bring new things to the public, to give them better ideas for smart homes. We are trying to show people what the future has to offer for custom home building and renovating."

The Home Show will also include educational seminars on banking, concrete homes, windows, and all other aspects of home construction, building and renovation, including of course lighting. Seminars are part of the $5 admission fee, Stephens said.

More information on Home Show 2001, including photographs of homes on the Saturday tour, can be found at the Home Builders Web site,

Mike Sica can be reached at

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