A visit to New York this spring would not be complete without a whirl around the 42nd Annual Kips Bay Designer Showhouse being held till May 29th at the McKim Mead and White-designed historic Villard Mansion at 475 Madison Avenue at the Palace Hotel. The gloriously elegant setting, with grand sweeping staircase and black and white marble floors has been turned into an over-the-top ideas incubator with the work of 22 national designers included. Starting with the work of one of my favorite designers who is coming out with his first book this fall, Markham Roberts, let the grand living begin.
If you love blue velvet, and teal blue velvet the way I do, then Markham Roberts Gentleman's Study at the just-opened Kips Bay Showhouse will have you swooning. There is a certain quietude in his polished interiors, which I find both calming and inspiring all at once. Working in a vibrant teal palette on the upholstered walls, accessories and in the upholstery, Roberts placed Robert Allen's Peacock Cotton Velvet on the sectional sofa in corner, and used natural colored cork on the ceiling to mirror the animal patterned natural and brown Beauvais carpet on the floor. Using all one color throughout has a tremendous impact, it makes the small space welcoming and intimate, just the sort of place you would want to get cozy with a drink in hand.
Artwork, ranging from original 16th to 20th centuries watercolors mixed with contemporary photographs and paintings, hung on either side of James Sansum Moroccan mirrors, went from chair rail to ceiling, adding a diverse assortment to catch the eye. Roberts' ability to select and place such a varied mix of art is truly something. Each and every framed work warrants closer inspection. Teal Parsons end tables matched custom lampshades on brass swing arm lamps that provided a warm glow to the walls.
Looking across the space, a Louis XVI cabinet holds a minimal bar for easy entertaining and a sparkly gold encrusted lamp from Liz O'Brien. Carrying the warm wood tones across the space, a rough tree trunk serves as a tabouret table in lieu of something larger to suit the cozy space. Up above, illumination is provided by a spiraling brass fixture from John Salibello-- an unexpectedly modern touch for the classicist.
At the window, elegant long panels created by Anthony Lawrence Belfair in teal Clarence House fabric are paired with a casual matchstick bamboo blind and pulled back to let in copious amounts of light. A masculine zebra wood desk and Biedermeier chair covered in a handsome herringbone woven fabric provide a peaceful spot to write letters or relax. My eye immediately picked up the range of browns-- from caramel leather on the modern chrome side chair to the light wood found on the linear Oak pedestal holding a beautiful varied glaze Japanese vase from Naga on it. One of my favorite art pieces on the walls is the Wood Wall Sculpture from Zoe Brill, made of large wood shavings mounted on a panel. It is so tactile it is hard refrain from reaching out to touch the surface. That piece is available, but the rest is part of Roberts accumulated-over-time collection.