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Home Sweet Home:
The Kips Bay Decorator Show House Returns to NYC

by Wendy Sy Photographed by Nikolas Sargent and Marco Ricca
Tuesday, May 1, 2018
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Step inside the Kips Bay Decorator Show House and the first item you’ll see is an Alexander McQueen butterfly motif rug. Called “Monarch Smoke”, it features an ongoing pattern of abstract wings in a soft, sepia tone. To Michael Herold, who designed the 17th-century art inspired foyer, it serves as more than a mere welcome mat—it represents a metamorphosis of the annual event.


This year marks the 46th anniversary for the show house, an Alice in Wonderland-like space on the Upper East Side that 22 interior designers had free reign to transform. Each room has its own personality and home furnishings (think printed wallpaper, magnifying glasses and retro clocks).


Open from today to May 31, the ultimate goal is to raise funds through ticket sales to support the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club, which provides after-school and enrichment programs to New York City children.


Upstairs, there’s a living room inspired by the idea of a tree house, what show house chair Bunny Williams calls, “every kid’s fantasy.” As the founder of the namesake firm she runs with partner Elizabeth Swartz, she brought the nostalgia of childhood memories and revived them in a modern way. The color palette consists of neutral tones; from a blue circular mirror, green armchairs to a faux bois (wood imitation) wall embellished with gilded knots by Bob Christiansen. To add to the theme, the duo worked with Art Groove to add an ethereal spider web wall art made with beads and sequins. “Spiders are actually said to bring good luck,” said Williams. “If you find one in your house, you shouldn’t scream!”


Over in the salon and accompanying bar designed by Jamie Drake and Caleb Anderson of Drake/Anderson, it’s all about the juxtaposition of modernism and classicism. “We wanted to do something grand and luxurious but also very intimate and comfortable,” said Anderson. The salon has deep gold upholstered walls by Jouffre with hand-sewn beads by Ankasa, offering an opulent backdrop a custom curved velvet sofa in a matching color, a contemporary Erwan Boulloud mirror and a tiger’s eye cocktail table. In the bar, the four walls are lined up in smoke, gold and clear mirrors, complementing the five-tier Murano glass chandelier in the center. “We had a bit longer to design the space this year. Seven weeks was the timeframe,” said Drake, a show house vice chair. “Some years, we only have six. One extra week can make all the difference in the world.”


Back out into the hallway is a can’t-miss spiral staircase designed by Sasha Bikoff. “I thought to transform the space as an art installation,” she said. “So, where you would stand from the top and look downward, you’ll see this technicolor wild, wacky dream. It’s an ode to Memphis Milano with a color palette of the 1980s Miami design movement.” The process started off with adding the colorful carpets (in prints such as zig-zags, polka dots and pyramidal triangles) that she designed for The Rug Company followed by the wallpapers to match, made in collaboration with George Venson of Voutsa.


Additional rooms include a dressing room and master bathroom by Marcia Tucker Interiors, a master bedroom by Alessandra Branca, a Sleeping Beauty inspired bedroom by Mark D. Sikes, “The Afterparty” room by B.A. Torrey, a contemporary Metro Deco kitchen by Clive Christian, “Laura’s Bedroom” by Brian del Toro, a garden terrace by Nievera Williams Designs, “The Drawing Room” by Philip Mitchell Design and a spa by Pavarini Design, among others.


At the end of the day, it all goes back to the children at the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club. Bikoff adds, “Before I even started making fabric selections and pulling paint swatches, I knew I wanted my space to speak to the kids and show them that their creativity should always be ignited when it comes to achieving their dreams.”


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