Kips Bay 2015, David Phoenix

David Phoenix. Devilishly cute. 
Photo by Linda Pakravan.

David Phoenix' Master Bedroom for the 2015 Kips Bay Show House was a crowd favorite and I think very livable.

As I said in my last Kips Bay post, lighting is everything in a long, narrow house with no side windows. Even better, layers of light. An alabaster fixture hangs from the ceiling, picture lights illuminate the volumes in the built-in bookcases, and swivel arm lamps for the club chairs.

photo by Emily Bolles
The art over the mantle was well chosen for a wall with no windows.
The metallic ceiling paper reflects light.

It's a rainy, chilly, jacket-wearing June 1st today. Too cold to garden. Easy to imagine settling in by the fire with a good book in this tartan upholstered Master Bedroom. Geographically and culturally this room works for me here in New England. I wonder how I would feel if I lived in the tropics?

A pair of demilune consoles, mirrors and neoclassic lamps flank the bed.

Photo by Linda Pakravan.
The X bench. A time honored classic, or time-worn trend?
The demilunes are exquisite. Exquisite.

The mate on the right of the bed.
Photo by Meg Fairfax Fielding
A good shot of the bed and consoles found on Houzz.


Mirrors are workhorses. They reflect light and movement, make a space seem bigger, and will gamely stand in for a piece of art when we can't find one (that we can afford). Mirrors are bargains.

This room has been described elsewhere as calm and serene.

via NYT

My eye sees the geometry in the tartan and the metallic ceiling paper as having a certain subdued energy. The color palette of the walls, fabrics and rugs is elegant, understated. The combination creates a mild tension setting this room apart from traditional old school decorating.

There is a lot going on, in a subtle way, but overall my impression was quiet beauty and strength. Restful.

via Architectural Digest

David Phoenix deftly mixes masculine and feminine elements. Slight edge to the masculine.

The geometry of the plaid, the architectural subject of the art over the mantle, the campaign style x-bench, the hefty burl frame of the mirror, the box on the mantle, all decidedly masculine.

A little leather on this x-bench. Photo by Linda Pakravan.

Bed hangings, curtains, orchids, luxurious damask on the chairs, and nice curves (the urns, the lamp on the chest, the round table, the demilune, the contour of the arm chairs) tip the scales back toward the feminine.

The whole room is a study in navigating the narrow channel between the overtly masculine and the decidedly feminine. Imagine the upholstered chairs done in leather, with nail head trim. Or the chairs done in a floral print. The balance tips either way.

Finally, every great room needs something unexpected. Something to make us think, hmm, why is that here?

This is a crop of the AD photo.

The butterfly prints are this room's unexpected element. If David Phoenix were going for the full-on moneyed look of conventional traditional decor, rounding up antique butterfly specimens would have been the easy route. Like these I found on ebay in a couple clicks.

Real but dead.

Instead he took the brave route with prints (lithos?) of oversized butterflies. I'm pretty sure they're not real.

Why didn't I ask him when I had him posing for my camera?

All in all, bravo David!

Switching gears a little bit. Houzz' article on this year's Kips Bay Show House elicited both positive and negative comments, as we might expect. Over the top, no cohesion, extravagant, no one lives like that, too much color and pattern, would have to wear sunglasses... were some of the kinder negatives.

I'm thinking there is a misunderstanding of the purpose of a show house. I'll do my part and sum up: raise money for a worthwhile charity or cause by letting designers unleash their creativity unfettered by the constraints of a client and charge people to come and see the results.

A good show house is something of a design museum. Each room a gallery of one designer's work. Many galleries under one roof. Have you ever toured a museum and loved every piece of art it held? Skipped a gallery or two? I'm guilty of both yet gladly pay the museum admission time and again.

Show houses need a little extravaganza, a pinch of drama for the buzz; show stoppers with new ideas and new ways of looking. Otherwise we would not plunk down $35 for admission.

And charities that give so much to so many in need would be the less for it.

What do you think of David Phoenix' Master Bedroom? See more show house pics on my pinterest board.

Thanks for reading,
Linda Pakravan

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