Photos from the New York Times
By Lynn Byrne. Well, I will ‘fess up. This is strictly a “then” post. You will have to wait patiently to see the “now”, i.e. the results achieved by the wonderful designers selected to transform this spring’s venue for the 2011 Kips Bay Showhouse, located at 163 East 63rd Street.
The Showhouse is open April 28 though May 26.
Still I was fascinated by the especially rich history of this year’s venue and felt that it deserved a post. Owned at one time by the famed John Hay “Jock” Whitney, a noted art collector among other things, it has a famous top floor conservatory room that was once decorated by Sister Parish.
I dug around and uncovered an excerpt from Sister’s biography by Apple Parish Bartlett and Susan Bartlett Crater, entitled Sister, The life of legendary interior decorator Mrs. Henry Parish II, where Mark Hampton describes Sister’s room at 163 East 63rd Street.
He said the room was originally built as a contemporary “folly” with large glass walls and furnished with bare white walls, Barcelona chairs and a Morrocan rug. The Whitneys concluded that their experiment with modern design was not to their taste and hired Sister to fix it. It was her first job for them.
She conveyed her idea for the space by showing the Whitneys an old shutter with a flaky white painted finish, and to the Whitneys’ credit, they got her vision simply be seeing that shutter.
The resulting room was lined with similarly crusty shutters covering the glass walls. The shutters were left open for light. The other walls were painted white, lined with a canvas linen and then overpainted again—lots of texture. Mr. Hampton goes on to describe the room as having a large Tibetan rug that was the color of “old Levi’s”, and furnishings in other tones of white, some yellow and some blue. The furnishings were not modern but early Louis XIII and Flemish.
And of course the room was filled with showstopping art, including a Picasso, a collection by Matisse and some Toulouse-Lautrecs.
It all sounds simply divine. I couldn’t find a picture online of the room. Perhaps there is one in the Parish/Crater biography. I don’t know but that would be reason enough to buy it! Click here to be redircted to Amazon.
So who is assigned to design that space? Brad Ford and Robert Stilin. If it were me (only in my dreams!), I would be feeling loads of pressure just from the “Sister” karma.
The pre-renovation party was held on March 14, 2011. I so wish I could have attended, but I am still knee deep in helping husband Larry with his recovery (check out my January posts if you are curious) and single handedly keeping the kids and house going.
Here are just 3 pictures from the Kips Bay Flickr stream of the “befores” for the house to whet your appetite and get you to clickety clack over to see them all right here. They are not described in any way but the glimpse is intriguing.
And the image at the top of this post? The right hand side is how the exterior of the house looks today. The left shows the house in 1924 sporting the stucco facade it had when built by architect Frederick Sterner in 1919. When Whitney bought the house, he ditched the stucco and gave the home its brick neo-Federalist look. For more on Sterner, this home and some other Sterner homes, click here.
Finally, drumroll please, here is a complete list of the 2011 Kips Bay Showhouse designers. Congratulations all. It is sure to be spectacular. I can’t wait.
Amanda Nisbet Design
Barbara Ostrom Associates
Bilotta Kitchens of New York
Brad Ford ID Inc.
Cayley Barrett Associates, Ltd.
Greener by Design Richard Heller
Harry Heissmann Inc.
Jamie Herzlinger Interior Design
Jeff Lincoln, Inc.
Celerie Kemble for Kemble Interiors
Mary McDonald Interiors
Matthew Patrick Smyth Inc.
Richard Mishaan Design
Robert Stilin LLC