The ooh and the aah of the Kips Bay Showhouse

Introduction: Huff Harrington Design Reading The ooh and the aah of the Kips Bay Showhouse 4 minutes Next Meet Allison, our bauble buyer

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.

Sarah Bartolomew’s design for the Kips Bay Showhouse “A Room of Her Own” photo Patrick Cline.

This is not striped wallpaper! These are stunning custom molded plaster walls by Master Works Plastering with Superstrata USA. Patrick Cline Photography

Love the contrast of the crisp grey and white painted floors and the pretty French Louis XVI walnut commode. Patrick Cline Photography

More unexpected contrasts: The classic black marble mantel reflecting a contemporary rattan fixture in the very cool plaster mirror, from Cox London. Patrick Cline Photography

Every room needs a quiet corner with a little old and a little new. Patrick Cline Photography

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. 

Paloma Contreras’ spectacular Spring Awakening room at the showhouse. 2019 © Nickolas Sargent Photography

The Degournay wallpaper that brought all the colors together in the room. I don’t think I would have thought of red lampshades, and I just love them here! Photo from @palomacontrerasdesign

In Paloma’s words : “Green is Good! I love just about every hue of green. This spring, I found myself craving chartreuse in particular and knew that the bold hue would be ideal for adding a little drama to my room at the Kips Bay show house. While the color is energizing, I also find it to be soothing and elegant, which I find so interesting. Isn’t the power or color incredible?” Drapes by @theshadestore

A view from across the room with artwork and mirrors from Paris. Photo from House Hipster Blog

A close up of the glorious “Japanese Garden” Degournay wallpaper shown with an 18th C. Adams chair. Photo @palomacontrerasdesign

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? 

Photo Emily Followill, Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles

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!

From Sarah’s instagram, an “in progress” shot of the plaster wall creation. Photo from @sarahbartholomewdesign

Here it is just after installation. I can’t imagine the labor of love that this entailed … but so worth it! Photo from @sarahbartholomewdesign

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!

Houston based designer, posing in her room at the Showhouse for HouseTipster blog.

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!

The French Frog that Paloma snapped up in Paris on our Huff Harrington Buying Trip! We were initially surprised, but quickly became just jealous!

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!

Ta ta,


P.S. The Kips Bay Showhouse is open through May 30th. Hurry up … and take your daughter. Mine loved it!

Christie admiring Paloma’s room at the Show House. (And did we mention the beautiful bullion fringe on the chair, and the unique side table?)

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!

A little detail of our Veranda at the Southeastern Showhouse … to whet your appetite, before June 2nd!

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