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Inside the 2018 Kips Bay Decorator Show House

“The Moonlight Room” by Juan Montoya Design. Photography by Nickolas Sargent.

Each year, celebrated designers transform a luxury Manhattan residence into the Kips Bay Decorator Show House, an elaborate exhibition of fine furnishings, art, and technology. This year’s iteration, open May 1-31, is no different. Designers went all out: Juan Montoya Design evokes the cosmos via abstract silhouettes of the moon in both carpeting and wall covering, while Barbara Ostrom Associates transports guests to an avid art collector’s library, crowned by a ceiling inspired by Frank Stella paintings. This year’s pièce de résistance, however, is the grand staircase, Sasha Bikoff’s technicolor ode to past, present, and future. Memphis Milano designers Ettore Sottsass and Alessandro Mendini influenced Bikoff, who included colorful pieces by Chris Schanck and Misha Kahn. It’s a feast for the eyes—and Instagram.

“The Afterparty” by B.A. Torrey. Photography by Nickolas Sargent.
“Art and A La Carte” by Barbara Ostrom Associates. Photography by Nickolas Sargent.
“Gilded Knots” by Bunny Williams Inc. Photography by Nickolas Sargent.
“Diana’s Stair” by Dan Fink. Photography by Nickolas Sargent.
David Netto Design. Photography by Nickolas Sargent.
Drake | Anderson. Photography by Marco Ricca.
“The Moonlight Room” by Juan Montoya Design. Photography by Nickolas Sargent.
Katie Ridder Inc. Photography by Nickolas Sargent.
Marcia Tucker Interiors. Photography by Nickolas Sargent.
Garden terrace by Nievera Williams Designs. Photography by Nickolas Sargent.
“Home Wellness Retreat, for Mind, Body, and Spirit” by Pavarini Design. Photography by Nickolas Sargent.
“The Drawing Room” by Philip Mitchell Design Inc. Photography by Nickolas Sargent.
Staircase by Sasha Bikoff. Photography by Nickolas Sargent.
Staircase by Sasha Bikoff. Photography by Nickolas Sargent.
Staircase by Sasha Bikoff. Photography by Nickolas Sargent.
Staircase by Sasha Bikoff. Photography by Nickolas Sargent.
Staircase by Sasha Bikoff. Photography by Nickolas Sargent.

The Kips Bay Decorator Show House is located at 110 East 76th Street in New York, and is sponsored by Kohler, AJ Madison, Hickory Chair, Hearst Design Group, Morgan Stanley, Farrow & Ball, Cambria, AKDO, The Rug Company, Schumacher, Architectural Digest, and 1stdibs.

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Aim High: Statement Ceilings Are 2018’s Most Romantic and Dramatic Decor Trend

For centuries, the statement ceiling was the ultimate sign of luxury (think Versailles, Robert Adam’s homes in Scotland, Otto Wagner’s post office in Vienna, Grand Central Terminal). Come the war years, however, such interior extravagance was unthinkable. The practice fell out of fashion by the 1940s and became nearly obsolete in the Modernist- and Minimalist-dominated decades that followed.

But this year, old-world grandeur is making a comeback. Pinterest reports that searches for “statement ceilings” are up 300 percent, and experts named it one of their interior design predictions for 2018. “As the ceiling has been so ignored over the last 70 years, it’s definitely about to have its renaissance again,” Martyn Lawrence Bullard of Martyn Lawrence Bullard told Vogue.

These modern ceilings, though, aren’t the sprawling tableaux of yesteryear. Instead, they’re done with bold paints, tailored wallpapers, or Expressionist elements. Je/Love Studio’s Lili Diallo describes the modern statement ceiling as a fifth wall, a response to a “clutter” averse generation. “It’s a good way to occupy space. You don’t need tons of furniture.”

You do, however, need a clear vision of what you want. Not just because the trend isn’t for the faint of heart—they don’t call it a “statement” for nothing—but, functionally, it’s quite difficult to remove one. When done right, however, the risk is worth the reward.

But, how, exactly, do you pull one off? Vogue gathered the best advice—whether you are looking to paint, wallpaper, or even commission a mural.

Painted Statement Ceiling

Painting a ceiling is the quickest, easiest way to pack a punch. Beware, however, of strong colors. With no light shining on them, the paint will read even darker, which makes a space look smaller. “Remember that the eye will be drawn to a strong color so the perceived ceiling height will drop—great if you have very high ceilings, but it can make for a claustrophobic space if you have very light walls,” Joa Studholme, international color consultant for Farrow & Ball, said. For white and cream walls, stick with gentle pinks, yellows, or blues.

If you’re dying to go bright and bold, however, Studholme has a word to the wise: “If you are wary of the ceiling height dropping, then don’t paint over the edges of the ceiling with your bold color, and take the wall color up over the crown molding onto the ceiling.”

But regardless of what color you choose, make sure you use a lacquered or glossy paint. “You can achieve reflections that fool the eye into believing a ceiling is twice as high, thus upping the drama stakes and really capturing the imagination,” Bullard said.

Wallpapered Statement Ceiling

If painting brings the drama, wallpaper brings the romance. Bullard’s favorites? Scenic prints. “[They] create a transformative, magical experience. Pattern can be really cool, like a faux marble paper, applied between molding on a ceiling. It will add grandeur and an old-world ambiance while retaining its fresh appeal.” Bullard also recommends metallic wallpapers. “They add such depth to a space and always amp up the glamor.”

Studholme is a sucker for geometric patterns, especially ones that can take up the wall and go over the ceiling. But, like Bullard, she also can’t resist a dash of metallic. Her favorite wallpaper is Farrow & Ball’s Brockhampton Star. “The metallic stars catch the light creating a ceiling that is eye-catching but not overpowering.”

Photographed by François Halard, Vogue, October 2009

Photographed by Oberto Gili, Vogue, January 2014

Want to do wallpaper but don’t know where to start? Pick one that has the same hue as your wall. It’ll create an uninterrupted, cohesive flow. “I think it feels a little more finished,” said Diallo.

Muraled Statement Ceiling

A muraled ceiling is by far the most difficult type to pull off. It takes a lot of time, energy, and, since it needs to be done by a professional, money. Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch, the interior design duo behind Roman and Williams, braved the final frontier of statement ceilings for New York’s Le Coucou. For them, the atmospheric ceiling was a tribute to their love the lost art. “Painting a scene or even a series of tones that recalls the sky can transform a space, re-creating the feeling of being outside, when you are inside,” says Standefer.

Their tips on how to pull it off? Don’t attempt to replicate well-known murals. Instead, try to evoke the feeling of the scene you want to depict. For example, if you want a sky: “A simple ombré is nice—avoid puffy clouds and blue skies—go for something moody like a Turner sky or an Impressionist interpretation of a sky. Perhaps by an unknown painter, or paint it yourself small and have a muralist copy it,” says Alesch.

Statement ceilings may be a trend for design daredevils, but why not aim high?

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Scared of Dark Paint? Don’t Be!

Judging from the pages of shelter magazines and interior designers’ Instagram feeds, dark colors are in. And paint companies are offering plenty of options.

Earlier this month, Sherwin-Williams picked a rich, moody blue called Oceanside as its 2018 color of the year. Benjamin Moore named Caliente, an intense shade of red, its upcoming color of the year, and its newest line of paint, Century, is composed of 75 saturated colors like Amethyst, Black Currant and Obsidian. Glidden Paint chose a black called Deep Onyx as its next color of the year, and Olympic Paints & Stains named Black Magic its choice for 2018.

The deep, rich colors promoted for years by companies like the decorator favorite Farrow & Ball, it seems, are finally going mainstream. “From the beautiful, vivacious tones of Radicchio to the super-dark rich of Studio Green, Farrow & Ball is seeing more confidence within decorating choices as we head into 2018,” Charlotte Cosby, who heads up the company’s creative team, wrote in an email.

Joa Studholme, Farrow & Ball’s international color consultant, attributed the trend to a desire to cocoon. “We’re sort of surrounding ourselves with comfort, and one of the ways we’re doing it is through color – to make our homes feel sort of nurturing and tender,” she said. “Instead of coming into clean, white houses, we’re going into homes that sort of give us a hug.”

For those of us more comfortable with whitewashed walls, however, it’s not so easy to make the leap to eggplant or onyx. But here are some tips from design and color experts on how to use dark colors without becoming overwhelmed — or claustrophobic.

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START SMALL If you’re nervous about playing with a deep, dark hue, “limit the color to the inside of cabinets, backs of bookshelves or a painted floor,” said Donald Kaufman, who owns the paint company Donald Kaufman Color with his wife, Taffy Dahl. “Dark, bold windows often bring the outside in.”

Ms. Studholme, of Farrow & Ball, suggested starting with a contained space like a powder room, the underside of a claw-foot tub or a hallway. “When you arrive, it creates a sense of drama,” she said. “You come through and go, ‘Wow.’” An added bonus, she noted: “A dark color in the hall makes the rooms off the hall feel really big and light.”

Ellen O’Neill, director of strategic design intelligence for Benjamin Moore, recommends starting with a focal point, like a fireplace mantel or the inside of shelves or drawers. “I recently photographed a home where the owner painted the inside of the drawers of an antique Chippendale chest a rich aubergine,” she said. “What a color surprise every time you open a drawer.” And as you become more confident, she said, “you can graduate to painting doors to a room or hallway, window trim or wainscoting.”

TEST IT OUT When you’re ready to tackle a whole room, “start with a color family that is already dominant in the home and select two to three shades that you feel makes a statement,” Ms. O’Neill said. “I’d get quarts of each color and paint large swatches of each, one set next to a window and one set in a corner. Observe how the room’s lighting affects the colors three times a day.”

EMBRACE THE DARKNESS “A deep, rich color goes an especially long way in a room without a lot of natural light, as dim rooms look particularly dull in lighter colors,” said Frances Merrill, the founder of Reath Design in Los Angeles, who painted her children’s room Farrow & Ball’s Pigeon gray. “It makes the small space feel finished and gives definition to the ever-rotating collection of artwork.”

In the playroom, she used Templeton Gray from Benjamin Moore. “Every surface in this room is usually covered in a layer of Legos and half-finished science experiments,” she said. “I find that the deeper colors mask the chaos.”

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“Conventional wisdom states that small spaces — especially those facing north — should be lightened to increase the sense of space,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Instituteconsultancy. “However, painting trim a lighter color in an area painted with darker hues can actually increase the illusion of space,” she said, because it creates a “greater impression of height or width in the space.”

Whatever your situation, “it’s best to work with what you’ve got, rather than try to fight the light,” said Ms. Studholme of Farrow & Ball, which offers a guide to how light affects color on its website.

PREPARATION IS KEY “Before painting, ensure surfaces are sound, clean, dry and free from dirt, grease and any other contamination,” said Ms. Cosby of Farrow & Ball. “Always sand down surfaces to achieve a smooth base.”

And if you change your mind later, dark colors are just as easy to paint over as light ones, assuming you prep properly. “Start by priming over the bold hue, then apply two coats of the desired color,” said Ms. O’Neill of Benjamin Moore. But “be sure to allow the primer coat to dry completely before applying the first coat of color.”

GO HALFSIES To add “sophistication and spirit” to a client’s “stark, boxy, white rental,” Alex Kalita, a founder of Common Bond Design in Manhattan, painted the bottom half of the bedroom wall in Hague Bluefrom Farrow & Ball. She calls it “the chair-rail effect” and notes that it serves a few purposes: “It simulates architectural variation in otherwise uniform space; it ties in the building’s teal window frames; and it leverages the cozy, rich, complex and grown-up quality of Hague Blue, while maintaining the practical qualities of white paint, like the illusion of ceiling height.”

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Another tip: “If you’re tempted to go dark and bold on the walls, but you prefer a restrained aesthetic, try keeping the furniture neutral,” Ms. Kalita said. “You can even make bulkier pieces recede by camouflaging them in the wall color. We had our client’s Wonk NYC dresser color-matched to Hague Blue, so that the piece could augment the client’s storage without competing for attention with the room’s more deliberate and sculptural design elements. Dark walls do a good job of visually absorbing things.”

FINALLY, BE BRAVE “I encourage people to be brave with color and unleash their inner artist,” said Ms. Eiseman of the Pantone Color Institute. “Experiment with color, have fun with it, allow yourself to live with it for a while. It is, after all, just one or two cans of paint. And when, and if, you tire of it, move on to another color and treat yourself to another creative exercise.”

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