Each year as the holiday season approaches, I look forward to visiting The Holiday House NYC with my Mom. The annual interior design showhouse was founded by breast cancer survivor Iris Dankner, and all proceeds from The Holiday House benefit breast cancer research. It’s a great way to take in some amazing design while also supporting an important cause. In contrast to other design showhouses, where the venue changes from year to year, The Holiday House always takes place at the Academy Mansion on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. This fixed setting is really great for two reasons – one, the mansion is an absolute dream setting, with four stories of rooms, stunning architectural details, and sweeping, grand staircases that transport you straight to old New York. Second, the fixed venue allows you to see how different designers reinterpret the same rooms year to year, which is very interesting. Read on to check out details from some of my favorite spaces!
The first room we went into was the Ladies Lounge right off the entryway, called “Summer Solstice” by Laura Krey Design. If you’ve seen this post and this post then you’ll understand how taken I was by the incredible hand-crafted porcelain flowers that were scattered all over the walls. They’re the creation of Brooklyn-based artist Syra Gomez, and I think they’re absolutely enchanting. I also loved the wallpaper, which is called Yukutori (by Farrow and Ball). Such a pretty, soft blue with a serene and beautiful pattern. Fun fact: “Yukutori” means “birds flying away in a group.”
Next we moved on to the grand dining room, which was done up in millions of dollars worth of Baccarat crystal in celebration of their 250th anniversary. Designer Amy Lau said she was inspired by the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles, and I think that inspiration definitely showed! Crystal isn’t typically my thing, but this room was impressive, opulent, and decked out to the nines in holiday style. It really was a glamorous sight to behold!
I loved these benches in front of the fireplace with their mix of cozy (faux?) sheepskin seats and glamorous gilded bottoms.
Next we entered the dark wood paneled library which was designed this year by Lillian August, entitled “A Winter Holiday”. This was very interesting for a few reasons. First of all, the historic nature of the Academy Mansion places certain constraints on the designers. In this library, the designers have to go with the deep dark wood paneling and the stained glass windows – they can’t change those existing components. I happened to remember this room from last year, when a different designer took the masculine vibe of the room and ran with it, decorating the space in dark leathers and rich brown tones. Interestingly, the Lillian August team took it in the opposite direction. They decorated the room with light, feminine elements like a white tufted couch, light colored throw pillows, cheery accessories, a lucite coffee table, and a blue and white rug:
These quartz pieces were EVERYWHERE in so many designers’ rooms. It’s so funny how at every showhouse certain elements seem to repeat (different ones every year – I remember one showhouse where it seemed every single room featured red) even though as far as I know, the designers don’t communicate amongst each other when planning their designs.
I loved these books where the spines featured NYC shops like Tom Ford, Tiffany and Co., and Bergdorf Goodman.
I LOVED these quartz “logs” in the fireplace – like a more glamorous version of logs. I feel like designers are always filling fireplaces with the most interesting and creative things. There was another designer there who filled his with a stack of big seashells, which was such a cool idea!
Fresh, festive greenery above the hearth…and you can see that super dark, masculine wood paneling that I was referring to above.
A snippet of that lucite coffee table – love! I really like this rug too. Usually rugs like this seem to contain millions of colors, but I like how this one is just ivory, navy, and sky blue – very different, and it keeps the busy pattern feeling fresh and serene.