Manhattan-based Amy Lau Design's living room turned dining room.

Manhattan-based Amy Lau Design's living room turned dining room. Credit: Bruce Gilbert

This year, Holiday House NYC goes high-fashion with a heavy French influence and attention to dressmaking details. Each decorator chosen for the annual show house in Manhattan -- started by Woodmere native Iris Dankner as a fundraiser for breast cancer research -- chooses a celebration as a theme. It all comes together in Manhattan designer Guillaume Gentet's Honeymoon in Paris suite, where the Frenchman set out to create a new version of the City of Lights' historic Hôtel de Crillon down to the precious, hand-painted floral wallpaper and delicate use of fabrics.

This and other spaces throughout three stories of the Upper East Side's Academy Mansion make this one of the most thoughtful Holiday Houses in its seven-year history.


Bastille Day is the theme of the sultry blue, white and red second-floor bedroom decorated by Manhattan designer Michael Tavano. Three circular light fixtures hang from a red Lucite frame dropped from the ceiling. A hand-painted canvas with a geometric pattern reminiscent of parquetry is stretched across the floor, covered by a bright blue shag rug. A 64-by-64-inch wire mesh piece titled "Maya7616" by Korean artist Seungmo Park comes to life only with backlighting.

DIY TIP Designer Olivier Rousteing's rope dresses in the Fall 2014 collection for the Balmain fashion house inspired the rope shades, which Tavano says can be re-created on any budget. "It's a form of macramé," he says. "Buy some macramé books and learn some of the knots. Take the size of your window and build a frame and start stringing the rope back and forth." The beads can come from anywhere. Tavano used some from India, others he collected in his travels, and the rest are from costume jewelry.


Brooklyn-based designers Natalie Kraiem and Sabrina Birnbaum call their third-floor anteroom Reflection, as much for what happens to people during the holidays as for the materials inside. There is glass in the stools, polished chrome in the floor lamp, pedestal and lights, gilt in the mirror, brass in the chandelier, metal in the mesh in the curtains and gold leaf in the art. Even the blue-and-black Phillip Jeffries wallpaper, Pisces, reflects light.

DIY TIP To create a space with the same kind of feel, spread out the metals and other shiny materials and use them with heavy fabrics and dark colors, Kraiem says. Birnbaum, a Brookville native, adds that such reflective surfaces can work with light color as well. "It would create a brighter, more refreshing environment."


The second-floor foyer is Scarsdale decorator Rachel Laxer's vision of a modern woman's refuge, complete with a desk and dressing table. The theme is Midsummer Holiday, so named "since it is the longest day of the year and such a happy time of year," she says. Drawing inspiration from a Lanvin dress she saw while in Paris -- a satin sheath with a gently gathered empire waist -- she painted the space petrol blue. A photograph of the French couture garment is framed alongside art created by women and two Ron Galella paparazzi shots of Jacqueline Onassis.

DIY TIP Laxer describes petrol blue -- a kind of teal -- "as the ultimate in chic and understated elegance." She suggests using a high-gloss paint, which is usually reserved for trim, when painting a room. "It will pop and give it a lacquer feeling," she says.


Designer Gary McBournie of Boston, Nantucket and Palm Beach turned a living room into a Caribbean Holiday -- with tenting made from more than 200 yards of blue, green and white striped fabric. A lit table brightens the room even more. "I wanted the feeling of a sunrise or a sunset," he says.

DIY TIP "Buy outdoor fabric and hang it like wallpaper," says McBournie. As for the table: "You just have to have a plywood box made," he adds, suggesting that it be painted in a high gloss. His filtered glass table is lit from inside by white Christmas lights.


The end-of-October informal holiday known as Mischief Night, the theme of Manhattan designer Louis Navarrete's third-floor living room, makes a statement right away. He does it with the light fixture, if you can call it that -- Philadelphia artist Warren Muller's "Hello, Sailor," as it is named, takes the shipwreck theme seriously with its contortion of anchors, propellers, clammers, a model boat in distress and other assorted things nautical.

Another fascinating element of the space, which Navarrete describes as a "redo of a Victorian lady's room," is the 25 yards of sequined tutu fabric used in the window treatments and bed canopy.

DIY TIP While pricey art, furniture and rugs elevate the room, Navarrete also uses sources such as Pottery Barn (a cylinder vase) and Restoration Hardware (standing lamps). "If you want to mix in low end, you want to make sure it's very plain," he says. "Then the pieces are elevated."


WHAT The seventh annual designer show house to benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation

WHEN | WHERE 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day through Dec. 21, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 26, closed Thanksgiving, at The Academy Mansion, 2 E. 63rd St., Manhattan

INFO $35; 212-472-3313,


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