It was the perfect Mother’s Day. Coming off the AH&L Southeastern Showhouse, where Huff Harrington Design made its debut with the Master Suite Veranda and Gallery, I thought it was fitting to check out the Kips Bay Showhouse while visiting my daughter last weekend. And so the two of us had the perfect afternoon: A lovely lunch on the Upper East Side, followed by a stroll down Madison Avenue to two favorite art galleries and then a visit to the Kips Bay Showhouse on East 74th Street.
First there was the Ooooh! Starting from the top of the five story townhouse on New York’s Upper East Side, we wound our way down the circular staircase, heading in to Nashville designer Sarah Bartholomew’s room and both simultaneously uttered a resonant “Ooooh” as we admired the soothing and restful décor. With its pretty neutral colors, its mix of modern and antiques and especially, the ingenious plaster walls, the room was a soothing perfection. Befittingling called “A Room of Her Own” this one invited us to come in, sit down, bring a book and stay.
Our next stop garnered an unabashed Aaaah! One floor down, and in the same space but with higher ceilings, Paloma Contreras’ stunning “Spring Awakening” befittingly awakened all our senses. Pretty, colorful, sophisticated and intriguing, the exquisite complimentary mix of colors, the effortless blend of French chic with modern American, the gorgeous fabrics, textures, colors and art work just blended together to be jaw droppingly beautiful.
It then hit me that our two favorite rooms, the Ooooh and the Aaaaah of the New York Showhouse and (in my mind) the stars of Kips Bay were Southern designers who have made names for themselves by sticking with their mantras but reinventing themselves constantly.
Sarah Bartholomew is better known for her use of traditional fabrics, gorgeously tailored with tremendous attention to detail. Do you remember her exquisite room for the AH&L Show House a few years ago?
Although I loved what she did for that Atlanta Showhouse, how inspiring to see her step way out of her lane in to a space that replaces fabric with a masterful blend of sculptural plaster!
Stylemaker and influential designer Paloma Contreras has successfully shown us all how to blend old and new, French and American, Houston and N.Y. in creative and pretty spaces. With a great book out recently (available at Huff Harrington Home!), and a eponymous shop open in Houston, on top of a thriving interior design business and a very active social media presence, Paloma is one of the busiest people we know. Yet she remains completely down to earth, always lovely and supportive of others in the business, and at least one step ahead of the game!
One of my personal favorite memories of Paloma was when, on one of our Buying trips to France, she simultaneously bought the prettiest Louis XVI side chair along with a rattan French frog. At the time, I was a little surprised but then realized she knew exactly what she was doing, and as always, was way ahead of the curve. Rattan frogs (and elephants) have been the rage ever since!
Congratulations to all 22 designers from the Kips Bay Showhouse, They all did an amazing job this year and the house is definitely worth the visit (plus what is nicer than NYC in May?). But in my mind, special hats off go to the Ooh and the Aah of the Kips Bay showhouse: Sarah BartholemOooh and Palomaaah Contreras (sorry, I couldn’t resist!). Your rooms were a real treat!
P.S. The Kips Bay Showhouse is open through May 30th. Hurry up … and take your daughter. Mine loved it!
And PPS: If you’re anywhere near Atlanta, you don’t want to miss our very own wonderful Southeastern Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Showhouse, open until June 2nd. And yes, please come see us!