May 24, 2013

Our visit to the 2013 Kips Bay Decorator Show House in New York

What a delight it was to be able to visit the granddaddy of all show houses in New York last week.  The Kips Bay Decorator Show House is sometimes referred to as the Oscars of the interior design community.  Eighteen top designers participated in this year’s home which was a grey limestone townhouse on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

 They were able to make design choices not restricted by clients needs or desires. Creativity abounds.  Having participated in a couple of Junior League of Toronto’s show homes, we know the excitement of creating a room carte blanche … Let me give you a small peek into some of my favourite spaces this year.

My lovely daughter and I

 Upon entering we are greeted with colour!  No greys detected in this showhouse.  Only one  beige room which I felt was a little disappointing.  But the rest were in full colour.  The sheer floral drape along the wall as you entered was a warm surprise.  And the colourful cowhide rug…! Amazing.

Wallpaper – everywhere.  Everything from traditional Scalamandre florals like below to grasscloths.

The room below was the largest of the house and a little ‘beige’, I felt.  Beautifully done by Mariette Himes Gomez and Company but nothing over the top.  We love to be excited, surprised or intrigued at these show homes….none of which happened for me in this room.


Now Kathryn Ireland, on the other hand, we can classify as over the top.  Whether you like her typically boho style or not, one can appreciate her creativity.  Her bedroom in the house featured an Anglo-Indian bed draped in fabrics from her new collection from Scalamandre.


The next room was probably my favourite room in the house.  Yes, those are fish on the walls.  If you can disregard those, everything else is amazing. (live a little….lol) Where to start?  The antiqued rug was AMAZING, the attention to detail on the upholstery divine, the art draws you in, the colours  cocoon you, the drapery panels are banded in 2 different fabrics and trim, the oriental nesting tables, and those pillows…..!  Notice how Jack Levy the designer had the pattern taken from the pillows and stitched on to the back of the chair – genius!


The lighting fixtures were so unique in almost every room.  Here the designer used hand blown glass pendants.  Did I already mention cow hide rugs?  Multiple designers used them in their spaces.


Below was perhaps my second favourite room.  Beginning with the chandelier – a 1950’s Italian original.  The walls were very creatively done.  Slabs of board were covered in a soft suede and then patterned on the walls to replicate a limestone feel like the exterior of the home.  Photography as art was also very big this year in the home.   And the drapery was a gorgeous moire (yes, you heard me right – somehow looks different than the one from the 80’s) with exquisite detailing on the banding.



If the walls weren’t papered or panelled, they were lacquered!  Too gorgeous!  My good friend Gloria Rinaldi, Canadian Benjamin Moore rep for designers, tells me she is getting a lot of calls for this. It is a premixed paint that is sprayed on.  Must think about where to use that next….love it!  Check out the colour on these walls in this powder room and the mirror on mirror.


The dining room, too, was spectacular.  Again, the walls were lacquered and the ceiling treated with a gold leaf wallpaper that was antiqued.  (you can’t see the ceiling here unfortunately)  Did I mention unique lighting fixtures?  This one is not my style but intriguing.  These pictures don’t do the rooms justice.  Imagine the feeling of walking into this tall grand dining room with such intense lacquered colour on the walls and the gold leaf ceiling…..


Velvets, grasscloth, high gloss moulding, gold and stunning light fixture.  Feast for the eyes.

Below, notice the coloured, gloss ceiling (different from lacquered, but shiny nonethless).  The walls had a venetian plaster technique done  in a smooth, gloss finish.  The sheer panels on the windows were not operable but very effective.  In real life we could make those into operable roman blinds.



As  first time attendees of the Kips Bay Show House we were delighted!  Most rooms pushed the envelope.  I liken it to a fashion runway.  It shows cutting edge creativity done perhaps, a little more extreme than the average home.  Bunny Williams, the show house chairwoman estimates that an average of $50,000 was spent by the designer to pull a room together. (Ok, so definitely more than the average home – fantasy for many of us.  But what fun and all for a good cause.)

There were many more rooms and gardens to see.  All these photos were taken from the New York Times.  Visit their link to  see the rest if you like.


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