2017 Kips Bay Show House Trend Report

The Kips Bay Show House is a much-watched event in my industry. This fundraiser is presided over by the current day design-world-rock-stars. They in turn select the house and the designers who will be privileged to flex their design muscles for public view.

This year’s house, as compared to those past, had an outlier experience quality because:

*A drenching rain fell the day of my visit. The sunless windows cast a dreary pallor over most of the rooms, particularly given the uncharacteristic lack of sufficient overhead lighting. So I returned a 2nd sunny day to do a relook.

*The first day I attended, I did so with 2 design enthusiasts: my design assistant Katie who, like me, greets Kips Bay like Christmas morning, as well as a lovely new design colleague who had never seen a Kips Bay house before, and it was a thrill to share it with her.

*Last but not least, at our soggy, but lovely lunch immediately following, I made the unorthodox move to announce over a glass of prosecco, rather than during a formal performance review, that Katie was being promoted to Associate Designer. I timed the announcement with our “Kips Bay Day” because I wanted Katie to hold a forever-happy memory of the wonderful day she learned she’d earned the title.

What beats Kips for a designer? Kips and a promotion.

But more on that later…

Here for your enjoyment are the trend takeaways from this year’s intensely talented Kips Bay designers, those stars on the rise who work with early adapter clients and push the bounds in design.

Wall Trend: Treated Rather Than Painted Walls: Go bold or go home was the story. If you’ve been wondering if wallpaper is really making a come back, wonder no more. The ever elegant grass cloth of years past was all but replaced by wall murals, papers, faux finishes to look like papers, large scale graphics, and all manner of everything in between, to include custom painted canvases mounted to the wall to look like paper, or like the art that it was. Some walls were fabric hung, dramatic, but oppressive. Some were covered in black mirror, which was effective in the right spaces.

Printed papers were large scale. Some were easy on the eye, while some made you want to open a window. But, you’ve gotta applaud boldness. 🙂

Savage Interiors hit a home run with their Stairway to Savage, a show favorite for me.

Its oversized scale print, and black and plaster-white palette, made walking up the stairs an event. So did the wood trellis above the skylight, arched antique mirror insets, acrylic stair rods on the carpet runner, and out of this world wall sconces. But I digress.

We did not see one lacquered wall, but I believe this was due to the later-than-normal acquisition of the show house. I’m guessing there was not sufficient time to treat the walls as I’m used to seeing at this show.

Ceilings were also largely and sorely ignored, as was overhead lighting, but again, I believe that was a function of the unusually compressed design time schedule.

Color Trend:

 Hello, gray? Are you there?

With the exception of a seamlessly well-done white and gray kitchen-family room, gray with more gray on top of gray was no longer the prevailing story; COLOR was – particularly jewel tones in blues and greens and occasionally a royal purple.

Gray-misty blue was barely present; instead blue went indigo or royal.

Greens went olive or emerald. Happy, sunshine yellow showed up as an accent wall, sofa and art display in a living room by Ramsa.

…yes, that is Andy Warhol wallpaper, lifted and framed…mmmmm!

Earth tones were present, but they are getting warmer, not cooler.

Pattern Trend:

There were 2 pattern stories:

  • Lots of pattern: Walls, floor and fabrics, all in the same room. Not a look many of my clients ask for.
  • The new trend on block is CHEVRON. I’ve been pulling chevron into fabric plans this year and there it was showing up at Kips Bay 2017, where it appeared beyond fabric, in large scale wall papers, on wood floors and on rugs as well.

Furniture Trend:

Eclecticism still reigns supreme with these notes from the show house:

*Limed woods were far less present (that bleached wood made so popular by Restoration Hardware).

*Reclaimed woods are still showing up on furniture.

*Less lacquering on wood furnishings.

*Upholstery shapes remain streamlined, simple and clean.

*Upholstery in multiple fabrics was done to great effect.

*Upholstery adornment was seen in trim tapes broadcast at arms or across backs.

*Metals remained warm and golden. Rose gold was absent.

*Window treatments were mostly panels, with fullness and graphic patterns. Headers remain simple with the exception of one fanciful lambrequin.

*Lots more antique furnishings showing up, not just the vintage or mid-century modern variety, and….don’t shoot the messenger; I spied some really ornate late Victorian pieces.

*Area rugs were layered, lush woven rugs laid next to or on top of jute rugs or low pile wools.

*Llama still showed up as an accent pillow or on stools.


This year’s house had an art story, which was loud and clear, and the message was: Go Art Or Go Home. Rooms were heavily hung with large-scale art, or a mural as art or sometimes with a menagerie of art. In general, this was not your show if you are a less is more girl.

Art pieces hung in large scale were effective and well done.

Some tailored gallery art grids and some asymmetrical gallery walls were well executed.

But sometimes the device of layering framed art, one piece next to and in front of the other, to include stacking pieces on the floor, became an overused devise and created the effect of clutter in a room more so than interest.

Favorite Kips Bay Show House Spaces & Acknowledgements::

Before tipping my hat to the KB design stars, I’d like to first do so to our own IDH up-and-coming-favorite young designer. Please help me congratulate Katie Blumburh on her promotion to Associate Designer. Katie continues to be my trusted right hand and proves again and again that she is earning her design stripes.

And now, we send our hearty thanks and congratulations to all of the 2017 Kips Bay designers for being selected in this year’s show.

Here are some of my favorites:

Living Room by Kristen Kelli

Lounge & Bar by Lichten Craig Architecture & Interiors

Stairway to Savage

Master bedroom by Dineen Architecture

Parlour by Richard Mishaan

Bamboo Court by Janice Parker Landscape Architects