The Kips Bay Decorator Show House officially swings its doors open to the public today. A selection of designers have shared a preview of their inspirations and insights for the storied showhouse with EAL. As designer and chair Bunny Williams observes, “This year’s team of participating designers and architects is an extraordinary mix of veterans and newcomers who not only are doing amazing things for the interior design community, but are also dedicated to supporting our cause. We are looking forward to seeing this group’s tremendous talent come to life this year, and are confident that with their help, we will continue breaking records and surpassing our fundraising goals, which are crucial in enhancing after-school and enrichment programs for our city’s youth.”
Drake/Anderson transformed one of the showhouse’s bedrooms, using a technique called “gainage,” which involves applying fabric to a hard surface, to add depth and texture to the walls. Jamie Drake shares, “We wanted to create a space that whispers richness: Every element is absolutely luxurious, but not ostentatious.” Caleb Anderson says, “We employed a color palette that intentionally underplays the luxuriance: Shades of pewter are paired with soft platinums, creating an atmosphere of understated elegance.”
Timothy Whealon’s bedroom, “The White Orchard Room,” channels what he calls the “great 1920s houses built on the North Shore of Long Island..., such as Caumsett and Old Westbury Gardens, and the David Adler houses built on the North Shore of Chicago. It is a room where Doris Duke or Cecil Beaton might find respite from their jet-set lifestyles. English, Asian and Swedish influences abound, but it is ultimately, distinctly and classically American.”
Kati Curtis is transforming two of the showhouse’s main staircases under the theme of “The Path to Enlightenment,” with a goal "to carry people from floor to floor with a beauty that borders on the spiritual, and create an uplifting experience for those who walk through the space.” To that end, Curtis used a de Gournay patterned wallcovering to evoke the “beautiful and seductive distractions” a seeker encounters on her path.
Harry Heissmann was tasked with reimagining a powder room. Shares Heissmann, “When I initially learned about my selection for the ‘Presentation Powder Room,’ my idea was to look for a mosaic panel from Pompeii. During my research, I came across the ‘Queen of Mälaren’ panel by Einar Forseth from 1923. It is the maquette that a mosaic artist made for the walls in Stockholm City Hall. The original panel is available for purchase at Modernity Gallery in Stockholm, and their owners so kindly allowed me to have it digitally reproduced. This started the rooms. Friends came together in a heartbeat to offer their help, and the room I envisioned became a reality.”
Inspiration for Harry Heissmann's powder room
Gil Walsh designed another powder room, using the work of photographer Tony Duran—featuring a famous former Kips Bay kid. “My goal was to create a very glamorous and sensual space. I recently saw and loved the evocative photos that Tony did for Kohler and Baker, two resources that are prominent in my buildout. But when I saw his portrait of Jennifer Lopez, I was mesmerized. I knew this could be my inspiration.” Lopez was an early member of the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club during her childhood in the Bronx.
Daniel Richards took on the terrace; the view itself served as his inspiration. “I was surprised by the quiet tranquility provided by the terrace and how it felt like an urban oasis in the middle of Manhattan,” says Richards. “I imagined the owners utilizing the space for entertaining friends prior to dinner, or, equally as enjoyable, going solo and reading the Sunday paper and falling asleep on one of the outdoor sofas. The terrace has been designed to be flexible, responding to the owner’s needs.”
“Last year marked a major milestone for the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club, as we celebrated our hundredth year of service and one of the most successful Show Houses to date. We are looking forward to continuing this momentum at the Carlton House Townhouse, an ideal backdrop to not only showcase the talent of top interior designers, but to also raise critical funds to keep the Club thriving for many years to come,” says James Druckman, president and CEO of the New York Design Center, and president of the board of the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club.
The Kips Bay Decorator Show House, located at 19 East 61st Street, is open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Get tickets.