Do you ever walk into a room and stop breathing? …but not, you know, because the room is void of oxygen and you’re undergoing respiratory arrest—but because you’re experiencing the most overwhelmingly profound installations of interior design ever, too beautiful to look at, and yet somehow, for some reason, you just CAN’T STOP STARING?
…no? Well luckily for us, Kuotes had just this experience when we visited the 2015 Kips Bay Decorator Show House. For readers who don’t know, each year twenty-two of the nation’s crème de la crème designers and architects are tapped to exhibit their skills in a unique space at one of the most prestigious design showcases. This year, that designer’s paradise was the Arthur Sachs Mansion: a beautiful, five-floor, 9,600 square-foot townhouse situated in Manhattan’s iconic Lenox Hill. This post covers our look at some of the top trends we saw this year. Just like high fashion influences commercial clothing lines (does everybody remember Meryl Streep’s tirade in The Devil Wears Prada?), you can bet that these looks at Kips Bay will influence what we see emerge in up-and-coming interior design ideas.
Rediscover Red. Red can be a scary color to work with. Do it wrong, and your room looks like the bloody elevator from The Shining. But do it right, and your room looks like Mark D. Sike’s romantically red dining room “Up in the Villa,” a striking composition of red Jacobean paisley and gingham, featured above and below. This room is a great example for designers who love to play with patterns. Have you ever considered adding small scale gingham to a larger scale, and then, BOOM, turning it 45 degrees and paneling it? You can argue that more is only more, but as much as this space was on the eyes, we wanted to spend every dinner party, formal or nonformal, in this glorious red room.
Did you miss the toile-inspired red aviary scene featured above? I hope not! It was one of our favorites. But the red did not stop there: Red was also spotlighted in Alessandra Branca’s rosy and fresh “Le Salon Rouge” and was the pop of color Gail Green chose for her bathroom tribute to graffiti artist Keith Haring. Check it out:
Fill Up the Walls. This year, Kips Bay felt almost like an art gallery with the vast number of paintings hanging throughout the walls. Most notable was Philip Mitchell’s “Torridon Stair Gallery,” a gorgeous kaleidoscope of over three hundred works of art (featured below and at the top of this post). The collection was composed of renowned artists mixed with flea market finds, and almost all of the display was from Mitchell’s own private collection, including a Marcel Vertès watercolor and a 1928 photograph of German film star Lil Dagover.
Some other standout pieces in the house were the art installations in the bathrooms and the wall mural by Matt Austin in Alan Tanksley’s “Pavlos Retreat.” Adding an art piece to a room is a very simple but effective way to bring life to your design. Consider art for every room of the house, but especially bathrooms, mud rooms, and lounges that may be sparse in other furniture and decor.
Kathy’s favorite room goes to Alan Tanksley’s study with Matt Austin’s beautiful perspective painting, a rustic foggy lookout onto Manhattan’s skyline, featured above. The room is garret-inspired with dormer windows, textured Kravet grasscloth walls, walnut millwork trim (to DIE for), and carefully curated sculptures and artworks hailing from the 60s and 70s. Our favorite piece might have to be the hand sculpted giraffe vase holding tropical leaves and branches featured below (its twin, not featured, also lived in this room).
Lay on the Lacquer. Walls define a room. As much fun as it is to look at the furniture, decor, and layout of a space, everything has to tie into the framework. At Kips Bay, the framework was not limited to boring painted walls. Instead, try walls upholstered in grass cloth, chocolate glass, shagreen-embossed leather, gingham fabric, and gold printed wallpaper! Perhaps most common were walls (and even ceilings!) coated in a high gloss paint. Pro Tip: Walls need to be skimmed or be in perfect condition to do a lacquer treatment since any imperfections are going to be amplified twenty times over! We adore this look… but proceed with caution.
Most memorable to us was Pavarini Design’s lounge space, featuring lapis-blue base-coated walls that were finished by applying a strié glaze… made of eye shadow! The result was a stunning finish that changed colors like a chameleon as the walls absorbed and reflected the light from the windows. Just look at it:
Put Pattern on Pattern. Mixing patterns can be tricky. We’ve all seen grandpa leave the house in a striped shirt, plaid shorts, polka dotted socks and his Birkenstocks, and there’s no need to bring that heinous crime to the world of interior design. But add a touch of subtlety to the mix-and-match technique, and you have a room that is visually engaging and full of texture without overwhelming the viewer: Mark Sike’s red dining room juxtaposed large checkers with small checkers (featured earlier); David Pheonix’s bedroom blended tartan walls, damask rugs and chairs, and a metallic ceiling. When we visited, Kathy actually had trouble walking into the room, overcome by its beauty—the music, the aroma, and the gorgeous Brunswig Fils Plaid, an almost cashmere-like wall covering.
Let’s talk a bit more about Christopher Peacock’s kitchen. I mean… THOSE GOLD PENDANTS! We all died. and the kitchen featured a magnificent two-toned countertop made of Silestone slab and wood from Grothouse Lumber. Being one of the first rooms in the house, it was truly overwhelming. After catching our breath from heart palpitations, we noticed the butchers block seamlessly capped into the Silestone countertop. For anyone who doesn’t know, Silestone is for the real chefs—the ones that spill red wine, tomato sauce, and lemon juice everywhere as they cook. At KKH, we tend to lean toward marble countertops, but let’s face it, this is a true chef’s kitchen, and to be able to work around it, Silestone is the perfect material of choice.
My favorite part of the kitchen? Please acknowledge the real soil and fresh herbs growing from the butchers block. We are officially obsessed.
My personal favorite room at Kips Bay was Thom Filicia’s study. The room masterfully layers materials and textures while maintaining a consistent tone and color. The study is versatile and split into two sections: a desk area for working and a lounge area for entertaining or catching up on Departures or The New Yorker. The space features a halo painted above the brass chandelier, rug-on-rug decor, and a teak sculpture “Frenetic Composure” by Robert Greene, evoking the powerful yet subdued businessman (à la Mad Men‘s Don Draper).
Symmetry is Key. In life, we like to remain balanced, so it is unsurprising that we are drawn to designs with perfect symmetry. Symmetrical rooms give us a sense of stability and calm. You can find this symmetry in many of the rooms this year (one last time, look over at Mark D. Sike’s “Up in the Villa”). A standout at this year’s Kips Bay was Cathy Kincaid’s bedroom, which had every piece impeccably placed with the utmost precision—from the evenly spaced paintings to the mirrored vanity, window, bed frame, and bath. Notice how she uses interesting decor elements and subtle patterns to keep the symmetry from becoming static or unimaginative.
Awesome Fact: This bedframe is made from SOLID BONE! Kincaid’s room was aptly named “Princess and the Pea.” Kathy’s daughter Maya would need a running start from the hallway to make it up to this bed, but then, she’d never come out! The entire room is so darling!
Lastly, look at the symetrical lines created by the sunlight in this striking terrace. The outdoor BainUltra Charism therapeutic bathtub is perfect for soaking in the tub while soaking in the sun! Complete with a wine fridge, outdoor sound system, and flat-screen TV, this outdoor space is something to aspire towards.
We are ecstatic to be able to share our experience at the 2015 Kips Bay Decorater Show House with you! Take what you see here and apply it to all of your creations. Inspired by all of these beautiful rooms? Tell us which room was your favorite. Share your thoughts with us here at the Kuotes!