Two NYC Designer Show Houses, Part 1

As part of Blogfest2012 I visited two New York City designer show houses.  Since I am a veteran designer of these types of temporary installations on this side of the Hudson River, I am always interested to see what and how others do it.

The, first one, the Kips Bay Decorator Show House has been an annual fundraising design event in the city  for 40+ years.  It’s reviewed and discussed and sometimes sets trends for years to come.  This year, for the first time, it was on the west side, in two sets of penthouses instead of an east side townhouse.  Each space had an expansive outdoor terrace.

The North and South Terraces, designed by Gunn Landscape Architecture, had some interesting details (it was raining when I was there) but felt empty and unfinished.

On the North Terrace, an attempt was made to define the space through a combination of concrete and ipe pavers but fell short.  The unfinished part comes from a stack of the concrete pavers that had been removed for the ipe decking, but were stacked next to a stairwell as if the contractor had just left for lunch…

Rainy terrace with paving detail looking east

Small planted areas were carved out of the ground plane as well as in boxed planters along the perimeter.

Corner planter facing south west (Love the clamshell planter)

Although beautifully done, some of the plant choices on the  northwest facing terrace were questionable…too hot, too sunny.

Planting detail


I’m totally one for capitalizing on the view and realize that outdoor space with expansive views in every direction on the 21st floor is exotic and at a premium, but I thought more could have been done to give the space a sense of intimacy despite the soaring views.

The South Terrace felt disjointed and was not holding up well in the weather.  I had high hopes when I first walked outside and saw a lovely shady planting scheme in Robert Cannon’s sculptural planters.

Robert Cannon's sculptural planters

A ‘lawn’ was a major feature on the main terrace.  With the availablitity of amazing faux turf, this felt like a weekend project made out of cheap astroturf rather than a feature in a $16,000,000 penthouse.  It should have been, and could have been, super fun, young and well crafted.

'Lawn' and outdoor beanbag chairs

There was a Wow feature on this terrace…a boules court!  I loved it.

Boules Court, 21 stories up!

If there was ever a space to use these Chanel boules, this was it.

Chanel boules

Show houses, even outside, are supposed to be about ideas and theater.  These lacked the overall design elements to achieve that despite some great ideas and details.

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