FurnitureMay 19, 2011

My Review of Kips Bay

Part of my last few days in New York for Blogfest included a trip to see the famous Kips Bay Decorator’s Show House.  I’ve heard about this show house for many, many years and was excited to finally get to GO to one featuring some of my favorite designers like Mary McDonald and Celerie Kemble.  Joined by my fabulous pals and fellow interior junkies Shannon Wollack and Kyle Knight , in we went.  I had not seen any images of the show house so I had no idea what to expect. Kyle and Shannon however had seen some and seemed a little apprehensive.

And they were right to be.

What I came away asking was, what happened to things just being PRETTY?  Why does everything have to be a statement or offbeat or thought provoking? Is there something wrong with décor for beauty’s sake? Now, everyone has their own definition of beauty, for sure, I may find something hideous that another finds soul stirringly gorgeous and vice versa.  But in a gorgeous old New York townhouse displaying the best of the best of American design I began to wonder if design is getting just a little bit CRAZY?


The entrance by Mary McDonald was glamorous and quintessentially her with red shagreen walls and high gloss red paint and a great little console vignette that seemed appropriate  yet modern within the walls of the historic space. Mary always seems to kill it.

This dressing room was rather sweet- despite this really strange large tv screen that was hooked up to a camera showing you in the space (is this instead of a mirror? I would hate that.)

The staircase had walls upholstered in yellow, black and white ikat fabric. While dizzying, it was pretty rad.

Celerie’s room in it’s entirety falls into a different category, but the to die for Lucite coffee table was something all three of us would have sold our ovaries for.

Details like INSANE antique floors and some gorgeous and unique hardware.

The outdoor spaces were INSANE and the best part of the show house! Look at this crazy deep daybed (starring Kyle and Shannon) on the highest of the decks! AMAZING! That light! The stripes! I die! Can you imagine sipping some wine with friends here???

Looking down on the garden level patio.

And all the neighbors have sweet patios and decks too. All I could hear playing in my head was “MoneyMoneyMoneyMoooooooney….MONEY!”


Brad Ford’s lounge had some good looking items and a great overall feel but it was too hipster for me (kind of like the Ace Hotel, where I stayed). A record player built into a coffee table? Huh? Can you believe I also had a set of turntables IN MY HOTEL ROOM (as well as a built in pencil sharpener)? Maybe I’m just not hip enough to “get” this…

Oh Celerie. I love you, I do, but something about this room did not work so well for me. The ceiling was cool, as was the double settee, the chandelier and we know I liked the coffee table- but it felt so heavy and so crazy BUSY, and I dare say, overdecorated! The amazing original woodwork almost got lost amongst all the pattern and color.

Such pretty color and detail though

Glossy turquoise trim? YES. Studded ottoman? YES Vintage Louis style chair? YES. Yet something felt off. I can’t put my finger on it.

This dining room could fall into the “good” category but I personally was super distracted by the drapes around the fireplace. Seems like one hell of a fire hazard, no? Also not big on skirted dining tables or that chandelier ( a crystal Empire style chandy would be my pick).  But that original scenic wallpaper was beyond beautiful!

Another room that had me torn- the pink patterned wallpaper by Amanda Nisbet was a really interesting choice with the wood trim. I loved the mirror above the fireplace and the little tufted chair but see below as to what ruined it for me….


GAH! That photo! Way too freaky and porn-esque for me.  I love the dichotomy of modern art in traditional settings, but this photo made us all a little queasy and felt WAY outta whack.

Don’t even get me started on this entry. The geometric wall appliques look like they belong in a daycare center and not a bajillion dollar home. And the pink table just adds insult to injury. Look at that beautiful old staircase! It must be so sad.

Crazy train, destination MARS. All aboard.

Do I need to get into this? Maybe I should tell you those floors were padded (huh?) I would see spots for a week after doing a load of whites in here.

Welcome to the creepiest little girl’s room ever. I dig unexpected colors in rooms, but the dark brown almost black high gloss textured walls were way to mature for this space- but what really got us was the cobra lamp and scariest ET doll ever on the chair (maybe it was just Kyle and I who were terrified of ET?)  I mean, it kind of looks like a nightmare/bad acid trip? I cannot imagine a child wanting a glowing red life size snake as a roommate. The giraffe, totally.

The style of the Richard Mishaan room was just not my style at all-  80’s influenced color scheme mixed with ornate old school details and some wacky art above the fireplace that freaked me out (most of the art in the house did). I walked out of here pretty quickly.

No. Just, no.

And then going 180 degrees the other way was this froufy bedroom with a ceiling mural featuring ivy vines that reminded me of bad country stenciling. This look was just too old and powdery for me.

All and all I left bummed out and really questioning the direction high end decorating is going.  I’ve never been a person who likes shock value just for the sake of shock value, you know? What do you think?

Pictures via me, Martha Stewart

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