Tuesday, November 8, 2016

...about tough choices, broken rules and big little spaces: Holiday House All-Stars, part 2.

Aaaannd we're back, a little more than halfway-ish through my fantasy round-up of Holiday House rooms past: my highly subjective, totally unscientific, all-in-good-fun choices from the show house's eight-year run at the Academy Mansion, to mark the move to the newest mansions in town, the Sullivan Mansions in SoHo, for this year's 2016 event, opening to the public November 17th. 

Catch up on the first batch here, and read a little bit about my self-imposed criteria on the otherwise impossible task of picking favorites from the always-stellar spaces by some of design's biggest names. Let's head upstairs, shall we?

Presidents' Day, Donald Schermerhorn
It’s hard to think “Presidents' Day” might hold enough style inspiration around which to build a room, but Donald Schermerhorn did just that, with a deft hand and deliciously dry wit, while making a gorgeous, cozy, "refreshed Federal" room in the process. His perspective? The sitting room of the presidential runner-up on the morning after, inspired by a slightly dour portrait Donald pulled in as the room’s manly muse. And if you’ve been paying attention, you know I’m a mega-fan of the power of portraiture in any space.

This room was harder to call than the election count in Florida, because squarely in the mix, and right on the heels of Donald are two of my very favorite gents in the business: Darrin Varden, Winter Solstice (That art!), and Louis Navarette, Mischief Night (That chandelier!) both choosing the moodiest blues to conjure up two rooms that could NOT have been more different, proving that color itself is the ultimate chameleon. Irwin Feld (of CF Modern) also had a great “Snow Day” take on this very same room.

Darrin Varden; Photo: Peter Rymwid
Louis Navarette; Photo: Peter Rymwid
 Irwin Feld; Photo: Irwin Feld

Sweet Sixteen, Weitzman Halpern Interior Design  
Amie Weitzman and Michael Halpern of Weitzman Halpern Interior Design created a Sixteen-going-on-OMG bedroom suite, using a jazzed-up pastel palette, and a wallpaper made from the imagined resident’s Instagram feed, and created a space for a fictional and funky client I’d love to meet. Photo: Peter Rymwid.

Chez Marie Café, Guillaume Gentet 
He frosted up a delectable— and highly functional— center courtyard space. But the icing on the gateau, and the reason Guillaume Gentet makes the list isn’t for a holiday, or how he used macaron-inspired color and that frothy, gorgeous, sky-reaching upholstered concoction beneath a signature-pink tent to evoke a sweets shop fit for Gigi (but inspired by Marie Antoinette)... but it was how he and then-fiancé/now husband David used the space: they got married in it, a Holiday House first. What can I say? I’ll happily bend the rules for two handsome men in impeccably tailored suits. Photo: Marco Ricca.

A Day in Repose, Eileen Kathryn Boyd
In design, rules are meant to be broken, so I’m breaking mine, and giving this one to a non-holiday, Eileen Kathryn Boyd's "Sunday in Repose." While not a true calendar date, this room had more than a few thinking “Mother’s Day,” (even though Ally Coulter had that covered in the main salon that same year).
The paneled room was freshened with one of the earliest show house appearances of custom digital wallcoverings, this one from Traci Hiner’s Black Crow Studios. All photos: John Bessler

Michael Tavano: Photo: Editor At Large
Neck and neck with Eileen, MichaelTavano (of Marks & Tavano Workroom), for his modern and exuberant spin on the French version of the red white and blue, Bastille Day, and one of the gargantuan room's most ambitious reimaginings,  Vicente Wolf’s snowy (but holiday-free) bedroom. 
Vicente Wolf

The Engagement, Charles Farruggio 
Okay, so again, not a true holiday, but a day to remember. Long before Marriage Equality hit the highest courts, Charles Farruggio envisioned a same-sex engagement in three acts (the courtship, the proposal and the honeymoon), capturing true romance without any gender boundary in all three of the large room’s vignettes.
Charles Farruggio; This photo: Marisa Pellegrini

Golden Jubilee, Javaras Kennally 
It’s most often the smallest spaces I remember and admire from show houses, where décor and contents do the heavy lifting. Lined with one wall of can’t-go-anywhere bookcases, there’s a tiny little rectangle of a room on the mansion’s third floor that’s intrigued me since my first visit to Holiday House, and challenged designers every year. Top photo: Quntessence.
Javaras Kennally didn’t let the room's diminutive footprint stop them from pulling out all the stops, in this gilded (literally) little room that you’d have had to pry me out of on a snowy day, good book or fine wine or both in hand. Sexy, interesting, amazing detail, and a wealth of ideas on what definitely to do with brave choice when square footage comes up short in your piéd-a-terre.
Aftermath Lounge, Scott Formby 
I’m including this on a holiday technicality: Scott Formby created a pass-through space that stopped you in your tracks, while creating a holiday we all desperately need: the day after the holiday hubbub, with his pomegranate-hued Aftermath Lounge. It was the perfect winter respite room, and you could hear the clink of glasses, feel the warmth of a good whiskey and almost see the snow falling outside, even in the windowless room. A tiny space writ large, with that mulled-wine colored grasscloth, moody lighting, and curated choices. Photo: Peter Rymwid.

Two More!
The rule I did stick to was to have a holiday only appear once on my All-Star Holiday House round up. Had that not been the case, I’d have most certainly included two more rooms: Gregory Allan Cramer, with his joyous, raucous and festive (that sounds a lot like Gregory himself, come to think of it) “Celebrate!” Christmas Eve room, and cast Gregory himself as the Ghost of Christmas Present. Photo: Peter Rymwid.

When his bare-of-furnishings room had only its coating of hand-painted graffiti, tongues were nervously a-waggin’ in the halls during set up. But the treatment proved a brilliant way to hide the tiny room’s multitude of soffitted sins. The boy knows what he’s doing, and had the last laugh, as Traditional Home used his bubbly room as its intro image for that year's coverage. It also proved one thing: when just the walls are done, don’t judge, keep calm, and trust your designer.

I also would have included Jennifer Duneier’s Easter room, a spring-y little gem with the gloss and depth of an opal on a sunny April day, that glass-beaded wallcovering setting the stage, and evoking those peek-in Easter eggs, all spun sugar and delicious color.

Future match-ups I’d love to see would be Darryl Carter doing either the Grand Salon or top-floor ballroom that few have managed to tame, with a modern take on traditional Thanksgiving, or perhaps Clodagh doing Earth Day. And I’d LOVE to tackle that back paneled library, doing the theme of... wait, I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise. But Iris, if you're listening...  

In this All-Star tribute, there are no losers, and I could have justified, with or without my makeshift rules, at least a dozen more rooms, from Matthew Patrick Smyth, Joan Dineen, Rachel Laxner, White Webb, and many, many more... proving that Holiday House, no matter how you judge it, provides a wealth of never-ending inspiration, whatever the season... or location.

Holiday House 2016 opens to the public November 17, at The Sullivan Mansions in Soho. Buy your advance tickets, and tickets to the Opening Night Gala, here.

All photos, unless noted: Patrick J. Hamilton

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