Anatomy of a Show House

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The 46th annual Kips Bay Decorator Show House is now open until May 31 at 110 East 76th Street, and features spectacular rooms created by 22 top architects and designers. Every year, each designer starts with a clean slate and has less than eight weeks to bring his or her vision to life, so we asked international legend Juan Montoya and rising star Wesley Moon to take us through the process.

“I can do a pretty room,” Montoya said, “but I thought a pretty room with no purpose is not really going to fly.” Instead his idea was to create “a family room for people to enjoy with others and by themselves.” And how does even a legend create bespoke rooms in such a short amount of time? Step one: Montoya invited his trusted contractor from Myriad Construction out to dinner, explained the project, and got the rest of his team onboard. Then he divided up the millwork between two different cabinetmakers. The main room, pictured above, is by Aucapina, and the entry foyer is by CQ Design Studio. He concluded, “You can be a great designer, but in the end if you don’t have the right people to work with, you are doomed. I think that is very important.”

Juan Montoya, seen here, entering the large room of the cellar area of the townhouse before work began. He opted to transform the entire basement-cellar level, including the landing foyer and the outdoor space, seen beyond. As this marks the sixth year that Montoya has participated in the Kips Bay Show House (not to mention that he is a legend in his field), he had the pick of the litter when it came to his choice of rooms to design. Photo: Courtesy of Juan Montoya Design
“When I saw the house, I felt that the basement was the one that was calling me,” Montoya said. “When I see a space, I have a sense of what it can become.” Here, the doors to the entrance of the large room were removed, and geometric layers of millwork redefine the doorframe. The carpets Montoya designed for Stepevi reflect his celestial décor theme. He calls this the Moonlight Room and says, “The moon is reflected in the carpets and the wall surfaces.” The club chairs are covered in Scalamandré fabric and upholstered by Anthony Lawrence-Belfair. Photo: Eric Piasecki/Juan Montoya Design
The basement foyer was initially going to another designer to redo, but Montoya said he “wanted to do the whole thing as an experience, a complete concept that has a cohesive unity.” Photo: Courtesy of Juan Montoya Design
The foyer now feels like a room to enjoy in its own right rather than just a transitional space. The colorful cabinet of curiosities on the right is by Shiro Kuramata from Friedman Benda, the burled-wood table is by Josef Frank, and the dining chairs are by Josef Hoffmann. The wall-to-wall carpet Montoya designed for Stepevi continues the celestial motif. Photo: Eric Piasecki/Juan Montoya Design

As a first-time participant in the Kips Bay Show House, Wesley Moon didn’t have the luxury of choosing his rooms. (Even though there had been a “room-selection party” back in February where designers got to list their three top choices after touring the house, he didn’t get any of his.) He was assigned the elevator landing, pictured here, the wet bar, and the butler’s pantry. “I have to admit I was devastated,” he said. “But I snapped out of it. Kips Bay is bigger than my rooms. It’s first and foremost a fund-raising event for The Boys and Girls Club of America. I actually think I lucked out getting this space.”

The other end of the butler’s pantry continued with more of the same perfectly nice but nondescript millwork. Photo: Courtesy of Wesley Moon
Moon created what feels like an additional room at the opposite end of the butler’s pantry by adding a glass-fronted china cabinet lined with fabric from Holland & Sherry. He placed a small tile-top bistro table from Maison Gerard along with Memphis chairs covered in Fortuny fabric. To the right, Waterlilies by Gary Low hangs on the wall. The Two Flags window painting hanging on the concealed door is by John Moore from Hirschl & Adler. “It adds airiness and a ‘view’ to the otherwise windowless space,” Moon said. Reflecting on his first Kips Bay experience, Moon was philosophical: “There were so many times that things just didn’t go my way, so I’d change directions and try another path, and every time I did, something better came along.” Photo: Marco Ricca/Courtesy of Wesley Moon
A New York Townhouse Transformed by 22 Design Experts