Sunday, December 18, 2016


The Holiday House started out as a designer event in 2008 under the inspiration of founder and event chair, Iris Dankner. It was her guiding hand that connected the design industry with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
This year the event was held in the Sullivan Mansions on Sullivan Street in Soho. The Holiday House designers took over two of the townhouses and transformed them floor by floor and room by room into the designer's inspired holiday moment. The townhouses are each five stories high highlighting New York's vertical living conundrum. Each townhouse is equipped with an elevator and a call button on each floor for the concierge or to summon your car, luxury knows no bounds.
As with most designer show houses the emphasis swings toward being editorial over really livable so for starters lets look at the living room designed by wunderkind and design chair, Ryan Korban. It's a mix of interior design and fashion in a very black and white amalgam with a little touch of grey and a big touch of pretension. For an interior design show house the wow here is the fashion and I don't think Ryan had much to do with that.
Black and white oozed from the Korban room right into the African/animal inspired room by Harry Heissmann. It was hard to find a place to focus on, a place to rest your eye. There wasn't an inch of space left that hadn't been sprayed with pattern. I doubt I could get much sleep in here.
If it weren't for the multitude of patterns it was the carousel  zebra positioned on the windowsill that would have given me nightmares. It still gives me a bit of a shudder when I see it.
Although I'm missing the holiday connection in Patrick McGrath's gentleman's dressing room the subtlety of the design was a relief and appreciated. The beautiful 19th-century Louis XIV canope was beautifully upholstered and a perfect compliment to the off-white cashmere drapes that I would have walked out with if I could have gotten past the security cameras.
There was a definite masculine air to the room from the minimalistic approach accentuated by the beautifully uncluttered writing table and handsome chair. I would love to be writing this post sitting at that desk instead of the kitchen counter on an extremely cold Wisconsin afternoon
Unfortunately from there it was back into the world of ungapatchka in a Lady's boudoir over-stuffed by Patrick Mele. From the old-fashioned balloon shades to the under-sized chandelier to the daybed with a backdrop of way too many orchids the room dripped in an aesthetic only the ladies who lunch might have appreciated but then only back in the 1980's.
The aubergine walls would have been sufficient along with the gorgeous painting but ditch the chair in matching velvet and a rug in the same tones as the walls. There's a lot to be said for editing.
Tina Ramchandani Creative used the soft shades of the beach in sand and soft sea green to evoke a space soaked in Hamptons sun and panache. There's something almost mid-century in the use of the Scandinavian inspired chair and the multi-fixtured pendant.
One of the biggest disappointments in this year's Holiday House was the two outdoor roof gardens. I had plunked down my forty dollars at about the mid-point of the show house's run. The roof was left unattended and neglected. It would have been more appropriate to have left the outdoor locked and off limits.
My favorite room titled, "Solstice", was pulled from the imagination of Tori Golub. It was a haunting black box that had the editorial appeal necessary for a show house yet the livability factor necessary to make it inviting.
This living room titled "Artistic License" by Bradfield and Tobin had the sleek modern minimalism that made it a perfect backdrop for the art sprinkled around the room. They created their envelope with wallpaper and draperies from the London firm JAB. This very subtle, monochromatic palette was the right choice for a room where art was the hero.
A constant on the New York Showroom scene Champion Platt was once again featured at the Holiday House with his "Black Friday" dining room. This was one of the rooms that actually seemed to have sought out the thematic intent of the show house emoting a festive holiday feel. Formal dining rooms can handle more drama than most rooms and Champion Platt's use of a black enclosure paired with his edited restraint made for a very sophisticated final product.
Bedrooms had their own challenges. The design of the Sullivan Mansions left the master bedrooms squeezed into a very narrow space with barely room for a bed and bedside tables. Juan Carretero chose to embrace this narrow footprint and valiantly tried to make us look upward by accentuating the vertical with lush off-white drapery panels on either side of the bed along with the wallpaper that soared over a low headboard. All of this pointed to a golden ceiling and magnificent ceiling fixture.
Whether you were just coming in or finally going out Sarah Bikoff's rose colored dining room needed no rose colored glasses. It provided its own deceptive idea of reality. This room was strictly editorial or at least way out of the wheelhouse of any client we've ever encountered.
This year I felt disappointed in the Holiday House. From the outside to the roof gardens there was insufficient maintenance and what seemed to be a lack of interest in sustaining the appeal of the house once the initial benefit parties had ended. There was work going on outside requiring you to walk through a construction zone to get in. Workers were replacing floorboards in the entry while I was there, a task that should only have happened when the house was closed. The elevators were not operating and dead flowers were everywhere. In this picture you can see the top of a pink port-a-potty just outside the window. It seemed like the perfect accessory.
Highgate Party, 1955
Thurston Hopkins, photographer
Reproductions available through Trowbridge

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