Landmark Villard Mansion Gets Makeover for the Kips Bay Decorator Show

By Janet Ramin on May 2nd, 2014
Study in Contrast, Ingrao, photo by Janet Ramin

Designers transformed the Villard mansion into flights of fantasy for the annual Kips Bay Decorator Show House. The Villard, a New York City landmark designed in the Renaissance Revival style by the famous McKim, Mead & White architecture firm, was once owned by the railway tycoon, Henry Villard, head of the Northern Pacific Railway. Hotelier Harry Helmsley subsequently took ownership and incorporated part of the mansion into the New York Palace Hotel which sits behind the mansion.

Now bought out by Northwood Investors, the Villard is stepping out of its hibernation and giving the public a rare look before being turned into high-end retail space. But before that happens, designers have a chance to put a shine to the faded glory of its interiors.

Study in Contrast, Ingrao, photo by Janet Ramin

The soaring space of the mansion demands extraordinary imagination and the design firm of Ingrao rose to the challenge. Upon entering their Study in Contrast, you immediately focus onto the monumental bronze sculpture from Ron Arad, a dazzling fireplace screen that beckons like an entrance to Aladdin’s cave. A meandering sofa by DDC invites you into the spacious art-filled room (see top photo). Floating celestially above is the hand-blown glass sculpture “Unique Galaxy Cluster” by Jeff Zimmerman.

Study in Red; William T. Georgis, photo courtesy of Kips Bay Decorator Show House Photo by Janet Ramin

In contrast, we have William T. Georgis’ Study in Red, a space saturated in blood reds. Georgis’ imagined Cardinal Spellman (formerly Archbishop of New York) as his client and designed the study around him. The turquoise upholstered sofa and armchairs, designed by Georgis, complement the red floral 19th century Agra rug. Above the seating is a red resin drip painting, First Stroke, by Piotr Uklanski. Providing the Cardinal a place to work on, the designer added an olive green George II bureau cabinet.

Sitting Room, Carrier & Co., photo by Janet Ramin

The husband and wife design team at Carrier & Co. created a contemporary luxurious sitting room, starting with a gilt marbleized wallpaper for the background. The creamy whites and bright yellow color scheme invoke a spring-fresh mood. The cala-lily floor lamp from Bernd Goeckler Antiques adds to the spring touch.

Lady Penelope’s Dressing Room, Christopher Peacock, photo by Janet Ramin

For the lady of the manor, Christopher Peacock designed the Pucci-inspired dressing room. The wardrobes, finished in high-gloss pink, reveal dresses by Italian designer, Pucci, as well as decadent Gucci sandals. The glamorous dressing room also houses a vanity table designed by Peacock.

Lady’s Lair, Gideon Mendelson, photo courtesy of Kips Bay Decorator Show House

Architect/designer Gideon Mendelson also designed for the lady of the manor but imagined her to be a busy career woman rather than a lady of leisure. His Lady’s Lair is multi-functional yet elegant and luxurious. Mendelson divided the L-shaped room to a lounge, dining area, and a working den. Unifying the room together is a very luxe teal suede wallcovering and trimmed with oak paneling. A mix of contemporary and mid-century furniture covered in leather give the room a timeless aura.

Grand Staircase, John Douglas Eason, photo courtesy of Kips Bay Decorator Show House Grand Staircase with designer John Douglas Eason, photo by Janet Ramin

No mansion is complete without a grand staircase – and John Douglas Eason gives us his modern baronial take on how to add drama to the flight. A golden baroque console table presides on the landing and showcases the lapis stone Barry X. Ball sculpture. Soaring above and bathing the staircase in a golden glow is the ultra-modern gold-leaf covered light sculpture by Ingo Maurer.

The Kips Bay Decorator Show House at the Villard is open to the public now until May 29th. Their admission fees contribute to the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club in the Bronx, NY.

Bonus Offer: The New York Institute of Art and Design can train you to become an Interior Designer. Get started today for as little as $39, pay in full and receive free gifts as well as a tuition discount.

About the Author

Janet Ramin is a NYIAD teacher as well as a residential interior designer. One of her favorite activities is to hunt and discover new trends, furniture, and designers. She currently lives in New York where she helps NYIAD students across the world with their interior design studies.


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