The first Designer Showhouse of New York opening May 16 in Manhattan's Financial District offers as much for the eyes outside as in. A twirl through the decorated luxury condos on the 55th and 56th floors of The Residences at W New York reveals larger-than-life views of the Freedom Tower and the Sept. 11 memorial and, a bit farther away in opposite directions, the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. The asking prices start at $2.23 million for a one-bedroom unit, despite the compactness of the apartments here. The endless money views become as much of a design element as furniture and wallpaper at the show house, as some decorators prove.
Locust Valley designer Meg Braff framed the walk-in vista inside her space with two tall and sinewy Asian giltwood-finish statues, one on each side of the enormous window. One of her goals for using them is to add architectural interest to the boxy space, she says.
DIY TIP: "A sculpture in a window like that adds height and scale to a room the way a large fica plant can," says Braff, who suggests taking time choosing artwork trying it in the home to see if it works in the light.
The award for the most skillful use of a diminutive space goes to Long Island City-based designer Caleb Anderson. Instead of holding back on drama, he custom-made a queen-sized bed for the 12-by-13-foot room that has a ceiling-mounted canopy of linen and silk. At the foot is a built-in cantilever desk that is roomier than many cluttered home offices. Sculptural tables provide needed storage, and there's still square footage for a chaise by the window.
DIY TIP: "When you have a room this size, you have to be smart about the pieces you put in it," he says. He suggests taping off exactly where pieces of furniture will be placed before buying anything. "Is there enough room to walk?" he suggests asking yourself.
Designers take advantage of height in this show house. In Manhattan decorator Harry Heissmann's room with its 14-foot ceiling, he casts intricate shadows using under-lighting and hangs a stuffed peacock up high. Jacqueline Hosford, a designer from Riverdale, uses 53 yards of fabric to make necks crane -- she's hung drapery over two closets in her room that extend up and beyond the rods in a sweep on the ceiling, where she's also hung flyaway tie sculptures by artist Lynx Alexander (aka Gary Moore).
DIY TIP: Instead of taxidermy, try a sculpture, paintings or tapestry to create visual interest on a high wall, says Heissmann, who summers on Fire Island.
ON A TRIP
Port Washington's Keith Baltimore turned his space into a leisure destination -- there are cabana-style black-and-white striped canopy panels hanging over a white leather sofa, pops of potted topiary and lemon-yellow accents, and a framed print of Slim Aaron's iconic photograph "Poolside Gossip" taken in 1970 Palm Springs.
DIY TIP: Anyone can install awnings to create a vacation spot inside the home, and Baltimore encourages such whimsy. "It was such a nasty winter that everyone needs to go away," he says.
START WITH ART
The 1961 abstract painting titled "The Grand Canal" by the late artist Loren MacIver was the starting point for Manhattan designer Daniel Park's space. He brought out the well-shown work's greens, golds and browns in the sofa, pillows, mirrors and accessories.
DIY TIP: "Go with your gut when you look for a painting," Park says. "There's no right or wrong. You will know."
ABOUT THE EVENT
WHAT: The Designer Showhouse of New York, sponsored by NYC & G (New York Cottages & Gardens) magazine and NBC TV’s “Open House NYC” and a fundraiser for Lenox Hill HealthPlex, under construction in Greenwich Village
WHEN/WHERE: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. today through June 29, except Mondays when the show house is closed, at The Residences at W New York, 123 Washington St., Manhattan
INFO: $35, which includes a journal; no children under 6, strollers or pets are allowed; 212-434-2410, dsony.org