Just a few weeks ago, the townhouse at 19 East. 61st Street in Manhattan was a concrete box that resembled a parking lot more than a residence of any sort. But if you walk through the building today—and you can by buying $35 tickets here—you’ll witness the efforts of 21 A-list decorators, who have each taken claim to one part of the house and worked their magic, collectively turning the multi-million dollar property into a bonafide residential showroom.
The cause for such a transformation? The Kips Bay Decorator Show House tour, an annual project organized by the Boys and Girls Club—yes, that same one that has helped shape the childhood lives of superstars like Jennifer Lopez, Misty Copeland, and Kerry Washington. Between now and June 9, ticket holders can get their decor fix and tour the medley of rooms that are as diverse and distinct as the personalities that imagined them, all while supporting a good cause (proceeds from each $35 ticket go back to the organization). Disclaimer: The tour will probably make you feel a little envious, but will also inspire you to jazz up your own space like a pro. For some hard evidence, check out our decorating takeaways from this year's event below.
1. GO ROGUE
We’re not sure what was going through decorator Victoria Hagan’s mind when she was putting together the elements of this living room, but we are loving it. The high lacquer red accent wall amidst a sea of white, and just a touch of blue, really electrifies the eyes in the best way possible. If you want to replicate this look, make sure everything from your walls to your furniture stays as monochromatic as possible so that the star of your show really stands out.
2. COAT THE WALLS
With fabric! It’s an investment, but this treatment is totally worth the bucks if you’re into that luxe vibe. Here Jamie Drake and Caleb Anderson take a it a step further by enveloping the moldings with fabric, a technique known as gainage. By keeping the walls and floor tonal in a soft grey, the room optimizes tranquility—excellent for a bedroom.
3. ACCENTUATE THE CEILING
To soften the look of the library—no overstuffed, floor-to-ceiling book case here—Eve Robinson lined the walls of this boxy room with soft tweed, which is lovely to lean into especially if you're curled up by the window with your favorite book. And while the furniture is composed mostly of clean lines and simple shapes, the blended marbling on the ceiling is meant to evoke the galaxy.
4. Dress the curtains
While clients sometimes decide that they don’t want curtains, Alex Papachristidis always insists. “They make up the room and really frame the view outside,” says Papachristidis, who prefers that they have a ballroom-dress vibe, voluminous and tactile, but will opt for something more lightweight or sheer if it fits. And if your drapes are meant to look event-ready, make sure you accessorize accordingly. Here Papachristidis accents neutral, floor gazing fabric with velvet flowers, to complete the evening-wear vibe.
5. FRINGE IS IN
We also are digging the fringe on the striped drapes in the guest room dreamed up by Catherine Olasky and Maximilian Sinsteden of the design firm Olasky & Sinsteden. It’s swingy fun, and it echoes the detail on the cool wall sculptures hanging above the headboards, made by artist artist Derrick Velasquez.
6. MURALS WORK IN SMALL ROOMS
Selecting the right wallpaper can be transporting, whether the room you are working with is narrow or vast. Kati Curtis’s landing is dressed to the nines in exquisite Degournay wall coverings that are peppered with birds, butterflies, and flowering branches, meant to evoke the path of enlightenment.
7. MURALS WORK IN LARGE ROOMS
Papachristidis’s dining room, wrapped in scenic Gracie wallpaper, is giving us a hint of Game of Thrones—very Lannister and very regal.
8. IT'S OKAY TO BE BLUE
Imagine being greeted by this vision when you enter your front door each night. This dreamy foyer designed by The David Collins Studio mimics the decor of The Blue Bar in The Berkeley Hotel in London, which they also designed 16 years ago. And even if your entryway at home isn’t as grandiose as the one here, you can still recreate something similar by dousing your walls in a high lacquer, blue paint (Cooks Blue by Farrow and Ball is the pigment of choice) adding red accents (red sconce shades and furniture pieces), and finishing the flooring in wall to wall black and white stripes. Source marble if you can, but no shame in opting for a rug with a similar pattern, or painting directly onto the floor itself. We are also using this as killer bathroom inspo too.
9. FLOWERS NEVER DISAPPOINT
Oh, and of course, don’t forget the menagerie of potted plants just under the staircase, like this fairytale-like version created by N.Y.C. florist Emily Thompson.
10. PATTERNS CAN BE CALMING
With its tufted rug, plush canopy bed and scalloped bedside accents, this bedroom designed by Timothy Whealon is more than just any ole sleeping retreat. It’s a place where you can escape and do anything from enjoy breakfast in bed, binge-watch Netflix, call mom, or dive into your favorite magazine. Here, Whealon introduces us to the joys of a uniquely shaped lampshade, and shows us that you can repeat patterns in a room in more ways than one. Case in point: The geometric print on the bed canopy fabric is the same as that on the white Madeline Weinrib carpet.
11. STYLE WITH INTENTION
In Suzanne Kasler’s airy living room, we absorbed tons of styling tricks. As a person who is a collector of all things from art to literature, Kasler is constantly thinking of innovative ways to display them. When assembling the bookshelf, she first took a few of her own collections, like the paper sculptures from a Paris flea market, and African baskets on the bottom shelf, made a mock arrangement, and then brought in books to fill in the space, being mindful of color (she focused on neutrals here), and symmetry.
12. ADD DEPTH TO YOUR GALLERY WALL
Here Kasler created an art haven by fusing together a gallery wall to display her collection of framed vintage maps, and a desk to showcase sculptures and more framed pieces, using coffee table books as pedestals to elevate certain pieces. The screen not only adds dimension and depth to the gallery wall, but it also keeps the eye moving up and down in a continuous motion, making the entire display feel like one intentional moment, as opposed to two disconnected ones.
13. PLAY DRESS UP
Designers Maxime Vandal and Richard Ouellette of the design firm Les Ensembliers may be men, but they sure do know what a woman wants. This chic dressing area is filled with exotic European finds, and decorative touches that are meant to make the room itself feel like a jewel box: The train of geometric shades that make up the ceiling light is the “necklace”, and the ornate red sconces (there are two), are the “earrings” of the room. Anchoring the space is a custom built vanity that offers enough jewelry storage (each leg is a shelved cabinet) for not just one queen, but two.
14. HAVE FUN
As risky as it may sound, the decorative patterns on the matte black walls and ceiling of this room are all drawn with chalk. To create the playful architectural details, designer Garrow Kedigian enlisted his dear friend, actor-turned-caligrapher Rajiv Surendra whose claim to fame once was his role as the rapping math-lete Kevin Gnapoor in the movie Mean Girls, but who is now sought out for his chalkboard artistry. We think it’s safe to say that Surendra has created the most epic ceiling medallion we’ve ever seen.
15. CREATE A SERENE OUTDOOR SPACE
If there is one thing that guarantees zen when it comes to home decor, it is a neutral palette. All the manmade elements in this rooftop haven imagined by Daniel Richards fall within the colorless spectrum, creating a calm oasis, and rather than punctuating the space with a fluorescent sculpture or other colorful object, he looks to nature for accents: namely, purple knight leaves, lush hydrangea bushes, and Western red cedar trees.
16. BE DARING WITH COLOR COMBOS
There are so many things to love about this ‘petite salon’ designed by Brian Sawyer and John Berson. The combination of teal and ochre proves that unexpected color pairings not only work, but work well. The epic marble flooring that is made of a quadrant of tumbled marble slabs will set you back more than a few pretty pennies, but you can recreate a similar, less permanent look by taking four rugs (in two different colors) and positioning them together into a grid.