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Takeaways from 2014 Kips Bay Decorator Show House

What has clearly been one of the best Kips Bay Decorator Show Houses in years will close at week's end. It's time for me to put this puppy to bed as well. I know there's a lot I haven't covered, but my goal in writing about the show house has not been to give you a tour. There are many resources that will do that. I've tried to highlight some of the teachable moments from the show house. And to finish the series, here's a wrap up of some random takeaways that even a novice decorating enthusiast can use to enhance his or her surroundings.

1. Playing with Scale

The crowning achievement of the 2014 Kips Bay designers is the way they played with scale. Perhaps due to the site's origin as the Villard Houses, modeled after an Italian palazzo, the show house spaces were exceptionally grand. How the designers tackled this grand scale is a lesson in contrasts. Compare the grand gesture of Randy Kemper and Tony Ingrao of Ingrao, Inc. in installing the mammoth Ron Arad fireplace sculpture (photo, top) with Juan Montoya's minimalist fireplace (photos, bottom two).

           

      

                                                                              Photos by Timothy Bell

                                    

Two completely different approaches to consuming volume and creating focus in a space. Yet both are perfect solutions. The takeaway here is that you can go big or go small but design elements must be balanced for scale and proportion to work.

2. It's All in the Mix

"Eclectic" has been the buzzword for decades to describe the style of mixing furnishings from different periods. Today, "curated" has replaced "eclectic" as the defining term. Whatever you call it, this style reflects design's evolution away from matching suites of furniture to a look that is personalized. I attribute this evolution to our acceptance in the early 1980s of the heirloom English Country Style. It freed us to consider hand-me-downs as desirable as opposed to dispensable.

The juxtaposition of old and new was abundant at the show house. Cullman & Kravis set a contemporary miniature Philippe Starck Ghost Chair next to a vintage Art Deco crystal and glass table.

                              

Juan Montoya illuminated his space with an antique crystal chandelier but his furnishings were decidedly contemporary.

                              

The takeaway is to exploit the contrast between old and new. The more divergent the periods of furnishings in the milieu, the more contrast, interest and focus the design generates.

3. Designer Details Make All the Difference

At show houses, it's all about the details. For example, Cullman & Kravis had their signature hand embroidery on their drapery panels.

                               

Notice the metal edge treatment on the shelves in the scullery created by Matthew Quinn, below.

                               

How about the wall details in the Gentleman's Study by Markham Roberts (below, left) and the "Lady's Lair" by the Mendelson Group (below, right)?

                       

The takeaway is that even small details elevate the design of a space.

4. Banquettes Are Where It's At

Think banquettes belong only in restaurants? Hardly. And they don't belong solely in dining spaces. Both Markham Roberts (below, left) and Alexa Hampton (below, right) outfitted their living spaces with corner banquettes.

   

When wondering what to do with that empty corner, remember this takeaway: banquette.

5. Decorate Your Windows with More Than Draperies

Old houses with tall windows expose a good deal of glazing. You can create privacy with window treatments. But the Kips Bay Designers demonstrated another tactic: use something sculptural or organic.

Urns with boughs stood in front of Ingrao's windows (below) and Cullman & Kravis' windows, as shown above.

                           

Sculpture rested on the sills in Kirsten Kelli's room.

                           

The takeaway is to think beyond window treatments for decorating glazing.

So many amazing highlights at this year's Kips Bay Decorator Show House. Congratulations to the designers who made the show house so memorable. It set the bar high for those that will follow.