The 5th Kingston Design Showhouse Reimagines a Victorian Property
We’re so excited about this year’s annual Showhouse event in Kingston NY! Spearheaded by Maryline Damour, founder of Kingston Design Connection and co-founder of interior design firm Damour Drake, a talented team of over 180 local interior designers, artists, makers, and businesses collaborated to bring us this year’s showhouse. Our writer Joan McDonald shares a preview of what to expect. Be sure to Get Tickets!
The home chosen for the 5th Kingston Design Showcase was built in the early 1900s for a woman, who took in two unmarried nieces. After the 1930s it saw subsequent transformations into offices and apartments, in the process losing essential amenities and distinctive decorative details. By the pandemic years, when Kingston became one of the nation’s hottest real estate markets, the home needed some tender care. It was a hodgepodge of crumbling mantels, shag carpeting and lowered ceilings, despite its impressive bones.
Kingston Design Connection came to the rescue by assembling a crew of talented local designers and artisans—including Michael Gilbride, Simone Eisold, Hinterland, Hendley & Co. Quittner X Worth Preserving, Erica Gibson of E. L’Alease & Co., Nicole Fisher of BNR Interiors, Samantha Leeds with Creatures of Place, Chris Bick of Pioneer Agency and Buddy Valentine with August Freeman of Unlimited Metalwork—to restore and reimagine the 2,800 square foot home for a design showcase.
Each of the rooms, the halls and the exterior landscaping offers a unique vision.
Nicole Fisher’s vision for the living room evokes a sun-dappled glen. Green faux-marbled painted wallpaper fits precisely between the room’s restored molding. An ebony stone fireplace surround, fitted with an antique metal insert, provides a focal point, while a dark-green-almost-black ceiling ties the room’s color scheme together. For contrast, Fisher, founder and principal designer of Hudson’s BNR Interiors, placed a vintage caramel leather sofa in the center of the room and provided overhead lighting with an art deco ceiling fixture reminiscent of a calla lily.
Across the hall, Samantha Leeds’ take on the dining room began with a conversation about how to better live sustainably and, as interior designers, how to make spaces that are not toxic. The room with its lime-washed walls featured a low-to-the-floor wooden table crafted by a local woodworker, accompanied by floor cushions made by a local urban silk dyer. The low table is heaped with a bounty of food and dried flowers hanging from a lowered ceiling grid, a latticework fashioned from harvested green bamboo.
“I wanted it to feel like a gathering place, a place where you could have the most intimate moments and conversations about the future,” said Leeds, who designs with Creatures of Place.
When the home was previously carved into office space and apartments, it lost the first-floor kitchen. There was just a small kitchenette on the second floor. To remedy this situation, designers from Hendley and Co. created a spacious, bright kitchen for the new residents to prepare food in. The theme was “ode to grandma” and the room has a sleek mid-century flair, with a moss-colored ceiling, granite countertops from Fishkill-based Affordable Granite and Cabinetry, plus streamlined wooden cabinetry designed by Eric Hendley. The wallpaper by Philip Jeffries mimics the grid of subway tiles.
Upstairs the showcase reimagined three different bedrooms and a bathroom. The bathroom was transformed from the former kitchenette by Michael Gilbride of Germantown-based Michael Gilbride Design. Gilbride, former executive director of fashion and luxury at The New York Times, saw the bathroom as a haven for privacy, a place to rejuvenate and escape the demands of housemates and pets. He chose to install a Thermador steam shower, which uses humidifying steam to produce water vapor, essentially a steam room with the typical features of a bathroom shower. A marble built-in bench allows the homeowner to sit and listen to music from a built-in device. Gilbride clad the walls of the bathroom in ridged porcelain, which will never mold.
“Even though this is an incredibly modern area,” said Gilbride. “I wanted it to have overtones of the Victorian era. So, it has very intricate marble tile work. The infinity drain is perfectly seamless with the tile pattern and there’s millwork that references the lighting.”
Each of the upstairs bedrooms has a different vibe while referencing the home’s history. The whimsical bedroom designed by E L’Alease & Co is filled with artisan-made collectibles. Two walls are filled with oversized, bright whimsical art by Ryan Cronin, whose gallery is located in New Paltz, and the room is enriched with multiple baskets and ebony carved pieces. A wall-length headboard covered in black and white velvet striae fabric provides not only comfort but a visual reference point.
“It’s basically a place for rest and calm and peace,” said designer Erica Gibson. “But also to be surrounded by collectibles.”
The bedroom designed by the Shokan-based cooperative Hinterland is all about indulgence, a key feature in Victorian design. The walls are decorated with a lush abundance of hand-painted flowers since the idea was to create a lush Victorian boudoir that felt luxurious and at the same time woodsy. Everything in the room was created by the cooperative of women artists and artisans—from the luxurious bed to the embroidered velvet garment, waiting to be worn, to the sensuous bedding, the piece of stained glass created for the room and the sweet chanterelle end table. Depression glass mounted on the wall, as art, catches the light in a beautiful way.
The final bedroom was transformed by a collaboration between Quittner, a historically informed design practice, and Worth Preserving, a full-service historic rehabilitation firm. Extensive research was done to inspire the spirit of the room, including obtaining census records, original deeds and photographs of the home.
“We used that as our starting point to think about what this room could be,” said Kate Wood of Worth Preserving. “We decided to make it into a study. A retreat for the women to have their books and their art and to have a place that was just a private space.
The room was staged as a place to contemplate and possibly languish on a daybed. Naturally, there’s a writing desk and comfortable chairs. The collaboration also took out a closet and created a cozy daybed alcove, salvaging some of the trim from the closet and using it to border a non-original window.
“We imported a picture rail that was donated by House Antiques Hardware,” said Wood. “A picture rail allows you to be really flexible with your art. You don’t have to put a hole in your wall or have that painting there forever, you can change things, build up collections.”
It’s also a must when homes are built of plaster which tends to crumble, as did the ceiling of the closet when they removed it.
Germantown based-firm Quittner has worked with Worth Preserving for years. Basically a lighting and homewares design practice, they designed all of the lighting that was used in the room. The room’s planters were made by a potter in Athens, and a chair and stool were made by a furniture maker in Saugerties. Worth designed the decorative wall painting in Victorian colors, which include stripes of forest green and burnt sienna.
“A huge part of how we approach design is sourcing as locally as possible,” said Wood. “The pillows on the daybed are stuffed with Hudson Valley wool. To the bones of the room, we’re really focusing on what’s possible in the region. It’s astonishing to me what is produced here and what comes out of this area.”
The Kingston Design Showcase will have showings on October 15th, 16th and 22nd. All proceeds go to the nonprofit Ulster County Habitat for Humanity. Kingston Design Connection plans to help Habitat build three local homes. For tickets and information: 2022 Kingston Design Showhouse
The Kingston Design Connection organizes the yearly design showcase as a way to celebrate and promote local designers. Hudson Valley design is promoted on a national platform, as well as through pop-up events and panel discussions.
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Designers in the 2022 Showhouse
Michael Gilbride, Simone Eisold, Hinterland, Hendley & Co. Quittner X Worth Preserving, Erica Gibson of E. L’Alease & Co., Nicole Fisher of BNR Interiors, Samantha Leeds with Creatures of Place, Chris Bick of Pioneer Agency and Buddy Valentine with August Freeman of Unlimited Metalwork
Kingston Design Showhouse | Get Tickets HERE
60 Maiden Lane, Kingston NY
Showhouse Dates: October 7 – 22
October 7: 2 PM–5 PM
October 8 & 9: 12 PM–5 PM
October 15 & 16: 12 PM–5 PM
October 22: 12 PM–5 PM