Thursday, April 30, 2009

Junior League House Tour

If you need anything to do this weekend while it's raining, you can check out the New York Junior League House Tour on Saturday, May 2nd. Where else would you get the chance to snoop inside the homes of New York's chicest residents including interior designer Sara Story (above), antique dealer Todd Merrill, artist Hunt Slonem, and architect and designer Campion Platt among others. The tour is self guided so you can take your time and enjoy this glimpse into how the other half lives. Just make sure you wipe your feet at the door! Oh, and no peeking into the medicine cabinets!

Announcing Harry Heissmann, Inc.

You know times are tough when even the top design firms are having problems. But everything happens for a reason and in the case of interior designer Harry Heissmann, it has led to the creation of Harry Heissmann, Inc. Harry is a beloved designer in New York who has spent the last nine years working for Albert Hadley, Inc. but soon he will be going to work in his own office! One that he has already started to mentally redecorate.

His website isn't finished yet but you can get a sense of his personal style in the apartment he shares with his partner, Mark King, that was featured a year ago in New York magazine. Oh, and since Mark works for Mrs. John L. Strong, Harry's going to have the chicest business cards in the design world! The style of his home is just as fun and fresh as his mentor. One of Harry's favorite possessions is his Jeremiah Goodman drawing of his living room at night (below).

I am excited for Harry to embark on this new phase of his life because I know he is going to enjoy it, even if it does seem a little scary. As I told a friend, sometimes the baby bird has to be pushed out of the nest before they think they are ready to fly on their own. But I have no doubt that Harry is going to be flying high very soon!

Blue and White

The design world converged on John Rosselli Antiques last night to celebrate BeeLine Home by Bunny Williams. (In case there is someone who doesn't know, John and Bunny are married.) You know it's going to be a good party when Presidential interior designer Michael Smith walks in! I heard he was touring the Kips Bay Decorator Show House earlier in the day too! Also on hand were textile designers John Robshaw and Carolina Irving. I even got to see what interior designer James Andrew was wearing in person and soon you'll be able to see it online.

The best part of the evening was chatting with John Rosselli himself. My friend Megan commented on his wife's wonderful new line of furniture and he said that they have been in business for over 50 years so you have to reinvent yourself. He also mentioned that the limited edition collection looks fresh and new compared to some of what is on the market. I told him how much I loved all the blue and white porcelain in the shop and he said, "I was working with Babe Paley once" when he stopped and asked us, "do you know who Babe Paley is?" We nodded and replied that we did. He continued, "well, I was working with Babe Paley and I was showing her some porcelain and she says, 'you know John, you can never be too rich or too thin or have too much blue and white porcelain!'" I don't know which I loved more, the story itself or the twinkle in his eye as he told it! Great moments don't get much better than that!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

2009 Kips Bay Show House Designer: Bunny Williams

Since I started my Kips Bay Decorator Show House coverage with a photo of the beautiful room designed by Bunny Williams, I thought it would be fitting if I ended with her as well. Most designers have to borrow all the furniture for their rooms so it was lucky for Bunny that she could borrow from her own BeeLine Home collection of furniture and accessories. Each piece was inspired by something that Bunny either owned or wished to own and produced in limited editions. She's also debuting more products tonight at a little soiree!

Bunny also worked for Albert Hadley for whom this year's show house was dedicated and she was one of the only designers to make reference to the legendary designer. There were literal references such as the drawings on the mantle and "Don't Forget" notepads as well as a red egg chair and star motif on the rug. Bunny said she was thrilled to create a room that honored her friend and mentor!

What I loved was that the room was broken up with an area for seating around the fireplace and a dining area with large table. All of which worked together perfectly.

Everything is a BeeLine piece in this photo but they all work perfectly together. The Bottoms-Up Drinks Table was my personal favorite and one that I might have to buy for myself!

This room was also a perfect breath of fresh air for spring. The walls were a pale blue and there were not only real flowers and plants but also large botanicals on the walls.

The orange chairs also looked great against the blue walls! The Turquoise Glazed Ceramic Lamp is a bargain at $500 retail too!

This reminds me that I need to create a little bar area in my own apartment!

Everywhere you look, there is something beautiful and interesting!

I loved all the vintage looking art. Bunny even thought to create a little area with trays for her press materials that is very chic!

This room has everything including a flat screen television tucked into the bookcase!

This concludes our coverage of the 2009 Kips Bay Decorator Show House! I hope you enjoyed this peek into just some of the 32 rooms. I want to thank everyone who helped to put it all together and all the designers who took the time to speak with me. It was such a pleasure attending and meeting them all! I hope that more of you will make an effort to visit this beautiful home that benefits the Kips Bay Girls and Boys Club!

2009 Kips Bay Show House: English Basement

By the time I got down to the English Basement at the Kips Bay Decorator Show House, I was exhausted but I'm glad I didn't skip it. There are some great rooms down there! The kitchen that was designed by St. Charles of New York, is directly under Juan Montoya's room and is the same size. As you can imagine, most New York kitchens are pretty small so to have this much room would be amazing. It's actually almost too big! I'm not sure if you can tell in these photos but the cabinetry is a beautiful pale blue. The kitchen island also opens to reveal seating.

For a basement room, the kitchen was light and airy. Which probably has something to do with the outdoor area beyond. According to Karen Williams and Robert Schwartz of St. Charles the "goal was to design a fluid space with four multi-tasking lifestyle vignettes - a continuous breakfast bar featuring concealed appliance center, a cooking hearth, a 12-foot kitchen island that cleverly converts to a banquet for extra seating, and a designated wine area complete with fireplace and tasting table."
"The spectacular architecture of the mansion's limestone exteriors is echoed in the kitchen's cooking hearth and fireplace elevations, as well as the large floor-to-ceiling tiles."

My favorite area was the breakfast bar where you can conceal the appliances when they are not in use. There was also a large pull out drawer for cereal in special containers!

While you are waiting for something to cook or bake, you could go out and enjoy the greenery created by Plant Specialists including the huge palm trees!

As any New Yorker what they dream about and one of them would be a washer and dryer in their apartment! Of course, a house as large as the show house would require multiple laundry rooms but I'd gladly settle for one! It even includes the Kelly Ripa and Electrolux new limited edition 'kelly green' energy-saving washer and dryer.

Now, before you start leaving nasty comments about this final basement safe room designed by William T. Georgis, let me explain that it falls in the "fantasy room" category. A safe room could never contain a fireplace or windows or would ever look this chic! William T. Georgis designed the Safe Room as a "safe haven in a time of potential global wars, economic meltdown, ecological devastation, paranoia, and questionable human behavior."

" The room contains a combination of art, furniture and weapons. George Condo's Jesus on the Cross, a 19th-century Danish Eqyptian revival chaise, and Richard Dupont's haunting sculpture of distorted figures, Untitled (Lever House Study), animate a lair upholstered in gray ultrasuede, lined with weapons, and stocked with survival supplies. An Empire bureau plat allows for writing, while the surveillance camera and stainless steel commode provide comfort and accommodate relief. The disco ball spins to the endless party tracks." If you have to been cooped up in a safe room, you might as well be comfy and cozy!

William T. Georgis's partner, Richard Marshall, is the art advisor to art collector and real estate titan Aby Rosen who owns this building and generously donated it's use as the show house. Aby Rosen also owns Lever House where artist Richard Dupont recently showed his work. And his sister-in-law Serena Boardman works for Sotheby's International Real Estate and working on the sale of the $75 Million townhouse. Any takers?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pardon me while I lean out the window and cut some flowers!

I was trying to work on my last two Kips Bay Decorator Show House posts but quite frankly, I'm too tired to finish them. But I know how much everyone loves opening their Habitually Chic email in the morning so I am leaving you with this amazing townhouse that I walked by today. The beautiful floral smell was wafting down the street and I was in awe that they were climbing up to the roof! I have never seen anything like it! At first I thought they were lilacs but further research has led me to think that it's wisteria. I definitely think I will picking up a bouquet of flowers for my apartment tomorrow. Albeit on a much smaller scale! Enjoy!

Monday, April 27, 2009

2009 Kips Bay Show House Designers: Juan Montoya, Jamie Drake and Charles Pavarini

I couldn't wait to get to talk about some of the larger rooms at the Kips Bay Decorator Show House which include spaces designed by the Juan Montoya, Jamie Drake and Charles Pavarini III. The first room here designed by the handsome and charming Juan Montoya (above) is just calling out for a cocktail party!

When I went to his website to learn a little more about him, I read this description that seemed especially apt for this room..."The exquisite juxtaposition of textures, colors and volumes, together with thoughtful attention to shadows, scale, and spatial quality, result in interiors that exude refinement and elegant simplicity. Through the careful placement of objects that often reflect his interest in a variety of cultures, Montoya enhances the inherent qualities of a room."

The furniture in this room includes many Swedish pieces including the side table above that sits next to a long custom designed sofa upholstered in a Juan Montoya fabric. You can see the texture of the wall treatment and the Willy Rizzo photograph displayed on a easel that all somehow work together.

The main focal point of the left wall is the large blue painting. When I asked Juan Montoya about it, he replied that he painted it himself. He could have borrowed an expensive piece of art but decided in this economy to do something different.

He mentioned being influenced by the Dada art movement which is seen in the light fixture he designed.

This room has a wall of windows that are open to the outdoor area below and let in a lot of light. There was originally dark wood paneling in this room and Juan Montoya said he wouldn't do the room if he couldn't paint it.

On this side of the room, two chaise lounges are upholstered in the same fabric as the sofa. The blue of the sculpture on the mantle and artwork on the side wall also relate back to the other wall with the large blue canvas and sofa.

This room is really beautiful and serene but also full of so many interesting details. I loved how the antique Swedish furniture worked so perfectly with the modern art and sculptures. As I told Mr. Montoya, the room is just as handsome as he is!

Another fabulous large room was designed by the King of Color, interior designer Jamie Drake. He designed it as a chic studio with a queen sized upholstered bed in the middle that acts as seating during the day and a bed at night. It was his reaction to the current economy.

When I first walked into the room, I wasn't sure what was on the walls. From far away they almost looked like a Chuck Close painting! In reality, it is a hand painted wallpaper from Alpha Workshops, the "only not-for-profit organization in the country that trains and employs people living with HIV/AIDS in the decorative arts." I love that Jamie Drake had one non-profit work on the room in a show house that benefits another wonderful organization! It doesn't get any better than that!

The room is full of rich pops of color that Jamie Drake is known for and create a cheerful yet elegant room.

There seemed to be a circle motif going on but I don't remember him talking about it so I'm not sure if it's purely decorative or has more meaning. Either way, it's an interesting contrast to the squares of the wallpaper pattern.

The bookcase is filled with Papier-mâché books/sculptures by artist Jean Lowe with very interesting and humorous titles that are perfect for this room since it doesn't take its self too seriously! Although the design is seriously chic!

The largest room extends the width of the townhouse and was designed by Charles Pavarini III. I didn't get to speak with Mr. Pavarini but I was told that the room was inspired by the iceberg photo on the far wall. Everything is the room is shiny and slick. The glass tables and chandelier remind me of ice and the cool tones of the upholstery are snowy. The fur upholstered ottoman won't keep you warm but it adds to the cold climate inspiration.

The challenge in this large of a room was making it feel cozy and I think Mr. Pavarini succeeded. It doesn't seem cavernous or too open. There are many wonderful intimate seating arrangements that would be perfect for a swanky cocktail party.

The Steinway & Sons piano also has a swanky feel to it as does the glittery fireplace. Each large room in the Kips Bay Decorator Show House is elegant and chic in it's own way but they all work and I would be happy to sip a cocktail in any of them! Does the house have a closing party?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

2009 Kips Bay Show House Designer: Charlotte Moss

Maybe instead of separate bathrooms, the key to a happy marriage should be separate bedrooms but only if they look like the ones designed by Charlotte Moss. "Anything but pink in the bedroom," he said...this was the the inspiration for the The Master Suite designed by Ms. Moss for the Kips Bay Decorator Show House. Of course, the first room is really the Sitting Room but it does contain a bed so Madame could either take a nap or get away from a snoring husband!

A lot of thought went into this beautiful suite of rooms. According to the press packet, the King of Sweden gave Nancy Lancaster a fragment of Chinese painted paper that inspired John Fowler and George Oaks to paint a mural described as follows..."the colors ran the gamut of Fower's range. Against a grey-lavender ground, frosted green trees - with strange white flowers - bear clusters of purple berries and green...wiggly bouquets of mauve berries."

Apparently, "the color mauve was discovered in 1856 by the eighteen-year-old William Perkin." Ms. Moss suggested reading Mauve: How One Man Invented a Color that Changed the World by Simon Garfield for more about this fascinating color story. Ms. Moss also suggests using a "portiere in the entry foyer/vestibule or between two rooms to create a break, a sense of discovery, or just a little mystery." By the way, portiere is a fancy word for curtain.

When I visted the show house, the weather was grey and ready to rain and the light from large windows made the room feel as though it could have been in Paris. Considering what a Francophile Ms. Moss is, it seemed especially fitting. The color palette for her room is French blue, mauve, ivory, pale pink and celedon and even though there are a lot of colors, the room is quite soothing. "Drama is created with contrast - in the case of these rooms, a light blue is used in the sitting room and a dark blue in the bedroom. The depth of color suits the room's use - dark for sleeping, light for reading, relaxing and conversation."

I love the wicker coffee table and bamboo window shades that "add texture, a dash of informality, and create that essential contrast with the silk curtains." The Decorating Notes from the press packet have the best quotes!

"Hang your artwork salon style - by its nature it says add more whenever you want."

The Jansen desk is from the estate of Evangeline Bruce and would be perfect for writing thank you notes.

The Louis XV bed is dressed pink Les Violettes en Rose sheets from D. Porthault, a colorway made specially for Jacqueline Kennedy. Another decorating idea is to "divide a screen in half and anchor two corners."

"Slipcovers give you flexibility: a feeling of being more relaxed, informal...and can stretch a budget."

The darker walls of midnight blue DeGournay Teapaper and canopied bed definitely add drama in the bedroom.

The sheets in the bedroom are Rivages d'Asie by D. Porthault.

The artwork is a collection of Maria Sibylla Merian 18th century hand-colored engravings of exotic plants and butterflies.

The bright green draperies are a lovely contrast to the blue walls. I also love that Ms. Moss thinks of all the senses when designing a room. She created a playlist of music entitles Les Femmes Formidables, that is available as an iMix at iTunes, and the room fragrance wafting gently in the background is Left Bank by Charlotte Moss for Agraria. She didn't mention specifically for taste but I picture drinking a cup of tea and munching on Laduree macaroons in the sitting room. Even their colors would match!

I find it inspiring that Charlotte Moss thinks of everything when creating a room and of course she is still inspired by others. I asked her what it meant to be a part of this year's show house since it is dedicated to Albert Hadley. "We are always thrilled to participate in the Kips Bay Show House, this year particularly as we honor Albert Hadley and all the inspiration that he has provided to the design community and do design in such a beautiful and gracious space." And beautiful and gracious are the perfect words to describe Charlotte Moss's room!
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