There are those moments in life when you feel like you are just so happy to be doing what your are doing. The happiness puts a little more spring in your step and you find yourself truly invigorated. That kind of moment happened for me last Thursday at the press preview day for the Kips Bay Show House, a wonderful annual event here in NYC where the proceeds benefit the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club.
Each year, invited interior designers transform a chosen home in Manhattan into an exhibition of fine furnishings and art. This all began over 40 years ago when supporters of the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club launched the Show House to raise funds for much needed after school and enrichment programs for New York City children. I look forward to it every year as do many others who come in droves to experience the plethora of design talent that have designed every room. I find it inspiring and exciting, and this years Show House was no exception! Here is a round up of some of my favorite rooms and designers from this year’s show house.
When I walked up the grand staircase of this beautiful 35 ft wide townhouse my first reaction was, wow! What a stunning, high-contrast printed wallpaper this designer chose to use. But then it really hits you… that’s no regular wallpaper. It’s a one-of-a-kind masterpiece that appeared to be painted directly onto the wall using one of my favorite Farrow and Ball go-to colors, Off Black. Talking to Nashville-based designer Jonathan Savage, I learned that this was in fact one continuous roll of wallpaper that was hand-painted, in fact literally hand-sculpted, bas relief plaster motifs by MJ Ateliers to fit the entire grand staircase and hallway! How amazing is that? The most precise measurements had to be taken of this multi-dimensional space, and they sure got it right! Just look at how they got that little bird to perch perfectly on the banister! Jonathan took what could have been the staircase that everyone used to pass through into each room and turned it into a showstopper area that was one of the most successfully designed areas of the show house. So much so that the NY Times decided to use an image of his space as the cover of their article on the show house. By the way, Jonathan appropriately called this space “Stairway to Savage.”
This room was entitled “Madam’s Magical Menagerie,” and what a magical menagerie it was indeed! After peeling myself away from the intricacy of Savage’s wallpaper, I entered this room and was again completely floored by another masterful wallpaper – a full room landscape of custom de Gournay jungle scene, entirely pained by hand. Can you believe it? It was complete with the most magnificent floral arrangements and fabulous vintage china and crystal dinnerware! Not to mention the embroidered linen napkins. There was quiet French music twinkling in the background, and the scent of the peonies thick in the air. It really did feel like stepping back in time and into the grand home of some wonderful old Parisian hostess. I could have honestly spent a whole day in this room, finding new details in every corner – like the fabulous animal hide chair, and the secret crystal cabinet in the corner – but alas, there was yet a whole house to see! Ken Fulk truly outdid himself once again. Spectacular!
Another fabulous gem is a small room done by Neal Beckstedt, tucked away behind the grand master bedroom on the very top floor. I was drawn into the room by a fabulous portrait of a woman hanging right in view of the small doorway. But upon entering, I realized that this room was full of fabulous pieces – understated, yet perfectly chic. I also appreciated that Neal went ahead and ripped out the drop ceiling in his room, revealing beautiful rafters and adding about 2 ft of wall height. Other additions included a fabulous cobblestone fireplace, and these fun tiles to cover up a floor that was not in such great shape. And can we look at that rug?! I definitely have a thing with these floors! This is not the last you will hear from us about Neal and his genius decisions he made with this room, that much I can promise you!
LICHTEN CRAIG / ANNE HARRIS
Finally, the showstopper in the basement, which can easily be overlooked, but should definitely not be missed! This garden level space was certainly no first-pick, but what the design team Lichten Craig did with it is just amazing. They turned a low-ceiling, walk through space into a warm, dazzling lounge area, perfectly accented with just the right amount of bronze detailing and mirrors. The result is a cozy bar and lounge that I’d be happy to cozy up in all day if I could! And the cherry on top? A wall-length mural painted by the insanely talented Anne Harris, which stretched accross the back wall, and provides and warm, master-painter like atmosphere for anyone lounging in these welcoming velvet chairs. I was just amazed at this beautiful piece of decorative painting! Not only did it fit so well within the space, but it even picked up on cues from the design, like the marble bar top, and the color palette, to create a cohesive, yet never overpowering ambiance.
All in all I’d say it was a very successful show house, and I was so pleased to talk to so many of the participating designers. It is such a wonderful reminder of this lovely community we all share. Now I certainly have my work cut out for me in keeping up with all of my fabulous new design crushes. There is a lot of talent running around that show house so I highly recommend heading there to see it and to help support the great cause as well! Until next year….