Kips Bay Showhouse

Last week I had a couple meetings in NYC and so I got the chance to stop by the Kips Bay Decorator’s Showhouse and check out what the designers had done this year.  I have to say, the most breathtaking, amazing work was done in the spiral staircase running the entire height of the five floor townhome.  Every inch was hung gallery wall style over a beautiful grey and white wallpaper and it was STUNNING.  Done by Philip Mitchell Design, it was, hands-down, my favorite space in the whole house.  Take a peek…

Obsessed with the mix of art- abstract, landscape, photography…you name it, it looks amazing all mixed together.

This was a HUGE job as this staircase was insane.


Hanging on curved walls is really hard, only attempt if you can hire some professionals who can make sure all your art is secured to the wall.


Another example of an amazing mix of mediums- from huge mats (which I adore) to puppy portraits and three dimensional objects. Just awesome.


Also a mix of frames were used- you can mix all sorts of frames to give it a very “collected” quality.


In one area on a landing was a large grid of black and white photographs and one heck of a light fixture.


Another nook showed another version of gallery style which is keeping everything monochromatic- both the art itself and the framing- against a  dark grey wall color.


OK, I guess we can move on from the stairs. :)

This was a cool men’s retreat designed by Alan Tanksley, which had a kind of safari feel to it.


The main living room was done by Alessandra Branca and was an interesting mix of country gingham and modern art.


Red was a popular color in the main spaces- in this dining room by Mark D. Sikes I quite loved this banquette corner which mixed red and blue in a fresh way.


This bathroom by Clive Christian was full of amazing detail from the capiz shell wallcovering to the monogram inlay cabinetry.


I may be the only designer who dislikes this crystal ship light fixture which I’ve seen everywhere. But I really don’t. But I love the tub and window treatments.


This landing was done by my friends from Tilton Fenwick, with the walls upholstered in their Duralee fabric and the chair rail covered in a cool trim.


And I DIE for this chair, which is of course antique.


The kitchen was done by the famous Christopher Peacock and was a mix of super dark charcoal cabinets and some cool details like these oversize pendants and raw edge wood island end.


I wasn’t so into the greenery planted into the open knots in the wood top, but I did love the concept.  And these pendants prove that sometimes going crazy overscale can work.  These would look totally off on a plan and if you saw them in a showroom alone you would never think they would work in a kitchen with 9 foot ceilings. But they did!


This  bathroom by Peter J. Sinnott was a cool mix of wallcoverings and an interesing pop of color on the trim.


The floor tile, by Akdo, was really cool as well!  It was so hard to shoot the rooms overall because there were so many people in each one!


The bedroom also had upholstered walls (very, very popular in this years house) paired with more modern photography and art.


Canopy beds with draperies were also seen in a couple rooms!


A study done by Thom Filicia


Another canopy bed done by Cathy Kincaid, was a very traditional and feminine with custom applique bedding and lots of interesting antique touches.



Did you go? What did you think? I think this year was a bit less risky and daring than others I’ve seen, but with more details that you could actually apply to your own life.



  1. I’m also liking the 3d gallery staircase walls, much more than the monochromatic look. And the large circle sculpture in the study window was a really inspirational touch I can do where i want my eye really drawn to a window when there isn’t a lot of natural light. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I always am concerned that dramatic design elements in a show house might translate into a a “show offy” house in the real world. Anyway, thank you for taking us along, especially so we could marvel with you at that staircase/ gallery wall situation!!

  3. Enjoyed the tour, however, my takeaway is that it appears a whole lot of stuff was thrown at this project to see if anything would stick.

    1. i agree 100%!!! are the designers limited to what freebies they get? it was very ho-hum!

      1. Sadly, some show homes to not focus on flow between rooms. The real craft would have been to create something unique individually in various rooms, while not giving up the continuity of the house as a whole. Being able to do so is real talent.

        So agree with you both.

  4. Hmmmm…My first thoughts were much to look at, little to be wowed by. The 5-story curved staircase is, in and of itself, fabulous. A gallery wall spanning 5 floors is amazing, also; however, I found a few of the artwork choices a bit twee. When I look at photos of show houses, I always try to think about how each of the rooms relates to the whole. KB seems a bit more cohesive than others I have viewed. I have seen more red used lately, which is interesting. Remember when everyone shrieked about Marsala – even if the red popping up isn’t quite that shade, red is showing up more and more. I agree the little antique chair might be one of my favorite furniture pieces, and the crystal ship lamp I would tire of very quickly. Not sure I love the dark kitchen. The wider shot showing the lighter hardwood floors and white walls, etc., gives a better perspective. And no to greenery growing out of counters, but yes to oversized pendants that somehow seem to almost disappear in the space.

    1. I agree with you. Nothing really wow-ed me besides the stairwell. It was truly breathtaking in person. I think the mix of art, including the twee, was what made it so unexpected and interesting. But each to their own!

  5. All my favorite design blogs have gone ga-ga over this showhouse, and I just don’t care for 99% of what I see in it. It seems as if every designer must overstuff every room and corner just to prove that s/he is talented. Just leaves me feeling as if I cannot breathe. Maybe this is one of those things that is just far better in person, where photos simply cannot do it justice. Thanks for showing us, though!

  6. I am in full agreement with Dawn and Elizabeth. It’s just too much “stuff”, too busy. And the crystal ship light is horrible!

  7. Love that gallery wall, wish I could find the artist for the piece over the fireplace. So amazing!

  8. It’s all overkill to me. You don’t have to fill every square inch of a room or wall. Claustrophobia. Dust also comes to mind.

  9. At the risk of sounding negative, I’m surprised that there was really nothing to inspire me other than to think” less is more”. Living on the west coast maybe I’m out of touch with what’s going on on the other coast but it seems that it’s what my traditional grandmother would have done with unlimited budget. I need fresh ideas and maybe they were there but it was like design detail overwhelm. But again, I think it’s a cultural difference.

  10. After seeing the Tilton Fenwick shots on Instagram, I was going to go this weekend. But now I’m not so sure…the house seems a little…blah?

  11. Busy, Busy Busy…too much stuff. After 42 years of marriage, 4 kids and now 5 grandkids I am trying to do away with all the stuff in each room. I never have a problem letting go of the “stuff” but always keep the treasures and love portrait walls.

  12. I agree about that ship chandelier! I liked it in exactly one instance: in a store located in a beachy community and sold that “vibe” of antiques and knick knacks. It fit in with a not-to-be-lived-in space and with all the other pieces. Otherwise, it’s a more sparkly version of slapping Applebee’s flair on your walls to me. (And dusting, ugh.)

    I love the pop of color in the trim. I hope this becomes more popular, as it’s a great way to add unexpected color but isn’t as overwhelming as say, the ceiling-to-floor- vertical stripe that I have seen as the new accent thing.

    Did you feel like the stairs were at all cramped with all that art? I would be afraid of being visually overwhelming or spatially cramped. (Although who am I kidding, probably nothing in a show house is cramped!)

  13. Erin, you did a great job of taking photos under less-than-ideal circumstances — thanks so much for offering a tour of this year’s Kips Bay Showhouse! I agree that the staircase’s gallery wall is STUNNING (except for the godawful puppy portraits — yes, I love animals too, but please). The mini-gallery in the bathroom is also gorgeous. I’m adding these pics to my Pinterest boards.

    On the flip side, the featured bedrooms are pretty bland — entirely too much beige and grey, and a missed opportunity to do something more adventurous (am not a fan of all-neutral color schemes). But overall, a fascinating house tour … thanks again for the treat!

  14. The stairs are spectacular. And all the items on the wall, they look nice. In a few words, the house is stagy, worth a visit.

  15. I recently went to the Kips Bay Show House, and it seems like I’m in the minority here, because I thought it was better than past years.

    Obviously the staircase was amazing. For a “regular” person to try to curate a stairway like that would be a monumental task to even collect all that artwork. The fact that it could be installed all at once made it much more manageable than doing it one piece at a time.

    As far as the bedrooms, I thought they were very soothing and livable. Erin did a great job with her pictures, but is is difficult to get a true feel for the rooms. I liked the fact that I felt you could totally re-create these rooms in your own home. I was ready to jump into the beds and stay there with a good book.

    Another thing they did this year was to take all of the small bedroom closets and turn them into “dry bars”. Each one curated by a different designers. I thought that was a nice idea rather than just leave the space as a regular little closet. Obviously it would turn back into a closet when the show is over.

    The only room which left me totally cold and confused was the McMillen room on the top floor. WTF??? It just came off as an afterthought. A room that every designer tossed in a piece of their own, that they didn’t want in their own room, and called it a day.

  16. What amazing gallery walls! They look as if they’ve been collected over long periods of time. I also love that silver hanging sculpture in the curved stairwell, stunning!

  17. Well…I LOVE that kitchen…that burled wood…gives me shivers. My taste to a T!! franki

  18. Since I know nothing about the design field, please correct me, but I always assumed that show houses were the runways of the interior design world Nothing you would actually attempt in real life (unless you were a one percenter) but more a way to highlight trends and show off your mad design skillz.

  19. LOVE that staircase. Phillip actually lives near me for part of the year and that adorable puppy portrait is of his two little guys!

  20. okay… u designers have done it…for my en.tire. life , i have loved blue and white — but i am officially sick of blue and white porcelain. it’s beyond over used and i am so… very… very… saddened.

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