10 style lessons from the Kips Bay show house including color

Visiting a show home is like flipping through the pages of the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog — a magical wish list for the home.

The Kips Bay Decorator Show Houses are the cream of the crop, drawing top designers from around the country who know their goal is to pull out all of the stops.

This year’s iteration in Dallas — open now through Oct. 24 — is a lesson in what will be trending for the next several years. There’s not an all-white kitchen or light neutral room in the entire 11,000-square-foot, Georgian-style home.

Two Houston interior designers, Courtnay Elias of Creative Tonic and Dennis Brackeen of Moxie Interiors, each filled a room with furniture and finishes.

Looking at this show house for ideas, here are the top take-aways:

1. Color

The first thing you’ll notice is bold, daring colors in every room: deep rich reds, blues, greens and even browns. In a morning room, Brackeen blanketed the walls and windows in a print with a bright yellow background, Alexa Hampton swathed a primary bedroom in garnet red and Elias chose cherry red and apple green for her “Moulin Rouge” media room.

2. Maximalism

When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. through Oct. 24

Where: 5138 Deloache, Dallas

Tickets: $40; kipsbaydecoratorshowhouse.org (Tickets are for timed entry in 90-minute intervals, so you must buy tickets online before you go.)


Minimalist approaches to design help calm our minds in tumultuous times, but we’re about to enter a significant period of maximalism. New York designer Corey Damen Jenkins — an avowed and proud maximalist — was assigned the dining room and used sapphire blue, emerald green and canary yellow throughout. He covered the walls, windows and ceiling in some 450 yards of fabric.

3. Pattern

Solid colors for both soft and hard finishes are easier to select, but mixing patterns will up the fun factor. Ikat prints, florals, botanicals, stripes and abstract images — even patterns with bugs and snakes — are going to be hot. I’ll even include animal prints in this category, as leopard and cheetah prints and tiger and zebra stripes were used repeatedly.

4. Texture

Generally, we define home furnishings as “hard” or “soft” surfaces. Let’s be clear: there is so much more. You’ll see “scratchy” in wicker, cane, grasscloth and rattan, “bristly” in wallcoverings printed on animal hide and “wavy” in sculptural finishes on any number of things — and you’ll see them on everything from walls, cabinet doors, dresser drawers and even mixed into lighting.

5. Technology

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that technology can improve our lives in ways we never imagined. Designer Shelly Rosenberg of Acorn & Oak, a design firm in Dallas. Rosenberg is the mother of a special needs child, and designed a children’s bedroom with technology set up for retinal control. With a special panel, a person could control lights, window treatments — virtually everything — by looking at a certain square on a panel. It’s a powerful lesson in inclusiveness and living well.

6. In-home bars

In the past year, so many people are enjoying a cocktail or hosting small dinner parties with close friends at home that the home bar is trending. Numerous rooms in this show house were created with full-on bars or smaller bar features using incredible wallcoverings, material and lighting.

7. Wallcoverings

Wallpaper has experienced a revival in recent years, and Kips Bay takes it to another level. Designer Janet Gridley of Dallas installed wallpaper with nailhead trim while Birmingham designer Caroline Gidiere lined a hallway with a scenic chinoiserie mural. In a bar off of his morning room, Brackeen installed a simple print wallpaper then added dozens of three-dimensional butterflies that look like they’re fluttering up the wall. Perhaps the most unusual wallcovering was used by Dallas-based Traci Connell. At a glance, it looks like a semi-abstract pattern on a dark background, but it’s actually a woodsy scene of trees, birds and botanicals on furry animal hide. Petting encouraged.

8. Ceiling treatments

Lately, homeowners have been installing wood beams, or tray or coffered ceilings. The showhouse shows how much more you can do. Most ceilings are painted or wallpapered according to the colors and styles of the rest of the room. You’ll see artwork, fabric and wallpaper in many, including Jenkins’ dining room, with at least 200 yards of fabric draped on the ceiling.

9. Art

It’s clear that the best accessory in any room is the art you put on the wall. Numerous galleries loaned artwork for the rooms in the house. You’ll see everything from very old and traditional to fresh and modern. Father-daughter designers Amanda and Barry Lantz of Indiana created a beautiful gallery wall on a staircase wall in the family room.

10. Retreats

Nearly every designer introduced their room as a place for its owner or visitor to relax, with a cup of coffee, a glass of wine or a cocktail coupe. Outdoor spaces were filled with lush landscaping and seats for lounging and furniture and fabrics are meant to comfort and calm. The final lesson of this show house is that our homes — and every room in them — are to be enjoyed and experienced.

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