Hampton Designer Showhouse

Mark your calendars decor deal-finders and haute-hunters! Only one more week to go until Traditional Home’s annual Hampton Designer Showhouse has their online auction! A handful of special items from each designer will be auctioned off… and (a portion of) the proceeds will benefit Southampton Hospital.

A few weekends ago, my husband Ryerson and I attended the Gala Preview Party for the debut of the 2013 Hampton Designer Showhouse. The party was lively, the cocktails were flowing, the crowd was very glamorous and the interior design was exceptional.

Though we did not get to meet him, we saw Thom Felicia (if you look closely at the picture above, you’ll see him checking in). Upon arrival, we decided to see the house before checking out the outdoor party—which turned out to be a good game plan—and we moved through each room and meet all the designers with ease and sans traffic.

After passing through Celerie Kemble‘s grand but restful master bedroom, I spotted idol and decor celeb (and Honorary Showhouse Chairman), Mario Buatta. I immediately turned red and noted the lack of AC in the house. I’ve met Mr. Buatta probably 3 or 4 times now, but have never managed to have a satisfying conversation over the sound of my chattering teeth. This time was no better… He had an absurdly robust plume of chest hair protruding from the top of his neckline—normally buttoned and bow-tied—that I fought hard not to make eye-contact with while I reintroduced myself. I explained that I had just written a magazine column on him and his new retrospective (Mario Buatta: Fifty Years of American Interior Decoration, published by Rizzoli) that is about to come out. He seemed amused watching as I struggled with his practical joke (see photos below, it was indeed faux chest hair that came out later in the party). We parted ways—me reeling from missed opportunities of composure and humor—and bee-lined it for the bar.

The back yard was abustle with a lively, quintessential Hamptons summer party crowd. After procuring a cocktail, we had the pleasure of bumping into another of my interior design idols, Vicente Wolf, and his friend (also a well-known interior designer) Matthew Yee. We were engaging in a nice little chat (everything my Buatta conversation was not) until—out of nowhere—Vicente & Matthew sprang away! Before I could worry about what I’d said, the lawn sprinkler soaked my lower half, and I too leapt backwards (before it got my white silk shirt) and watched in shock as women (and men) screamed and ran. Gowns got soaked, seersucker wilted, and white linen pants became see-through. It was hilarious. And a blessing in disguise? I think so: it was over 100°F and wildly humid out.

After that, it was time to go. Plenty of excitement for one decor party night.

ABOVE: Lillian August‘s cheerful and punchy dining room. I love the painting on the back wall by Julie Headland.
BELOW: Bakes and Company‘s kitchen with outrageous countertops and custom refrigerators and freezer drawers (shown bottom left). Hot!

Below (3 photos) of Patricia Fisher Design‘s sitting area and breakfast nook. The saffron and light grey with pops of bright green were a refreshing and inviting combo.

Below (2) photos taken from upstairs of the guests cruising through the entry foyer by Michael Herold Design, and the living room by Brian del Toro Inc.

Brady Design‘s beautiful and serene guest room/tv room. The hand-crafted mattress upholstered in baby alpaca was the inspiration for the room, as it could be used as a lounge during the winter OR covered with sheets during the guest-ing season.

Alan Court & Associates‘s (Alan shown below) created a stunning guest bath with stone and leather walls! I had to touch.

Barbara Page Home‘s playful guest room overlooking the backyard had dramatic photography from Robin Rice Gallery

Celerie Kemble‘s master bedroom with charcoal seagrass walls and pops of turquoise and blue hues.
The charming Mr. Mario Buatta, before and after my chest shrug run-in. I guess he got too hot! Here’s a link to the piece I wrote about his book that comes out in September

Below is my favorite room in the house, by Bradley Stephens, Stephens Design Group (photo courtesy of KDHamptons.com). These masculine quarters share a 2-sided fireplace with the master bedroom and the ceiling (though you can’t tell from the photo) covered in a fabulous, distressed-wood wallpaper. Bradley said it was a painstaking job, but added so much to the room that it was worth the effort. The room was eclectic and handsome and had a wonderful mix of art and artifacts, including an dissected lobster, similar to one I saw a few years back in the world-famous taxidermist, Deyrolle (one of my favorite places in Paris).

Michael Mariotti’s glamorous master bath with patterned seagrass walls, ornate tiling, and a beautiful leather bench with flocatti throw.

Sherrill Canet Interior’s Morroccan-inspired family room for Pearson (where all the furniture and textiles are from). Sherrill laid all the mirrors out on the ground in the middle of a market in Morrocco in order to visualize them in this comfortable and graphic room!

Ken Gemes’s casual outdoor dining area facing the backyard party

The lively outdoor party

One of the aforementioned fashion-foiling sprinklers (below left); and the guests running from the scene (below right). My sad, wet, bejeweled shoes (not shown)
Click here for Editor at Large’s video coverage of the event with Traditional Home’s stylish Tory Mellot (who I worked w/at Elle Decor) doing interviews.
To read about other fabulous Hamptons events (and laugh hysterically), check out my cousin Ted Kruckel’s most recent BizBash column, “This Year’s Hamptons Events: From the Sublime to the Ridiculous”

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amerelife.com by Meredith McBride Kipp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

© Meredith McBride Kipp and amerelife.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Meredith McBride Kipp and amerelife.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

DIY Shagreen: Console Transformation

Photo by Laura Moss. Interior design & styling by me, Meredith McBride Kipp.

I found this great console table recently and dragged it home. It’s got great lines and would look perfect covered or lacquered in just about anything (except mauve). I envisioned covering it in real shagreen (j’adore shagreen) but my lack of diamond-tipped tools and experience steered me towards a nice faux alternative (they have alligator, ostrich and other textures too)!

If you dare to DIY—avoir patience! Here’s how I did it:
1. I cleaned the table thoroughly to remove all oils, dirt, etc. Then, sanded the entire table with a fine grit paper (I would go a little heavier next time: the more surface texture you can create the better) and wiped it down with a tack cloth: much better than cleaning again because you don’t want to add moisture to the surface you are about to adhere to.
2. I measured out all my leather pieces (with a little excess) and cut them with scissors. If you’re going to cut the pieces to precise dimensions, I’d use an exacto and cutting mat. If you are using a textured fabric or leather, make sure you center your pattern before you cut your pieces.
3. After stirring the DAP Weldwood Contact Cement (follow the directions well), I poured it into a glass tray (easy-wash surface)—for my mini-roller—and applied it generously to all surfaces of the table as well as the backs of all the pre-cut leather pieces.
4. After letting it “set for over 40 mins”, I attempted to apply all the pieces, but had little to no luck bonding leather-to-table. I went to bed completely irate: for not doing it the easy way from the get go (glue gun, staple gun, heavy duty spray adhesive: my usual). To my surprise and delight,  I awoke to surfaces that actually bonded! They had just needed more cure time. From there it was easy…
5. I aligned and bonded all the leather surfaces and trimmed them with a sharp exacto (always & often change your blades!), using the table itself as my straight-edge. The material cut like butter.
6. I cut the 45-degree angles with a proper metal angle (after learning the hard way on the now “back” of the table) and trimmed off all the excess.
7. I reached out to my leather expert cousin, Ted Kruckel, at Gigi New York (where all of my favorite accessories are from) for recommendations on what to use to finish the edges with. He recommended I use Basic Adhesives for custom-matched leather edge paint. Since I wanted to finish this project asap— so I could share w/y’all immediately— I decided to custom-mix acrylic t-shirt paint instead (same material I’m almost positive), and I painstakingly hand-painted all the edges. This gave it the finished, deluxe look I desired. et Voila: free to fabulous in less than 24 hrs…

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amerelife.com by Meredith McBride Kipp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

© Meredith McBride Kipp and amerelife.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Meredith McBride Kipp and amerelife.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Wardrobe Function

Hot off the Oscars, everyone’s talking about ‘what they wore’, but I’m more interested in where they hang it all when they get home. What does that space look like?

Everyone’s got their daily routines and ideally, their zone. My husband, Ryerson, and I just brought ours to life. We sold our fab little 20’s colonial tudor this fall and bought a bigger/older project: an 1805 farmhouse in Franklin Lakes, NJ (yes, BRAVO Housewives territory).

Moving whilst crazed at our jobs was traumatic at best, so we focused our weekend-warrior energies on getting our private quarters finished first. ‘Oasis of organization & comfort’ has been our mantra. As usual, we took the job very seriously and built ourselves some totally over-the top closets. Ry turned the existing walk-in into his own personal haberdashery (sans valet) and I took the liberty of transforming our off-bedroom office into a gallery of glam. I’m a jeans, boots and blazer gal by nature but this wardrobe-chapel is making me see things in a whole new light.

Interior Design & Styling by moi, Meredith McBride Kipp
Photography by Laura Moss
Closet construction by Ryerson Kipp et moi

My coveted Billy Haines slipper chair from the 40’s makes a great statement piece.

Hot pink clutch and gold leather wrap bracelet by cousin Ted Kruckel at Gigi New York. Gorgeous Key Tassel candle (my favorite gifting item) by friend Elad Yifrach, founder of L’Objet. Tray by Royal Limoges from my factory tour purchases in Limoges, France a few years ago during Pairs (Maison et Objet) market— OBSESSED— bought the Asian-laquer-red china to match. The giant wishbone is by Nima Oberoi. I can’t remember where I picked it up, but it was a must-have-you moment. Looks like you can buy it at a number of places now, here’s one.

I rewired and cleaned this pretty, old chandelier (estate sale purchase) to add a little classic romance to the space.

Using a level, I simply hammered rows of nails into the wall to create a display for all my casual accessories. It’s much easier to accessorize when you can see all of your options. This is an easy project I highly recommend. I chose the wall that is usually hidden by the open closet door, but if you are doing this on a more prominent wall, you might want to get pretty brass hooks or decorative knobs to use instead, just to give it a little more polish.

I have too many funky old broaches (this one is Kenneth Jay Lane) lying unappreciated in a drawer, so why not use them to accentuate your boudoir decor?

I used a mixture of brass knobs for my accessories drawers.

Standard options for accessory organizers tend to be tacky, so I like to hide everything in drawers. Here, I’ve used a simple, modern desk accessory to hang all of my hoops and dangling earrings. It’s a great way to display and store them.

To purchase the full story (with before photos) for editorial or commercial use, it is now available at Red Cover.

Creative Commons License
amerelife.com by Meredith McBride Kipp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

© Meredith McBride Kipp and amerelife.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Meredith McBride Kipp and amerelife.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Dining By Design 2012

The Dining by Design circuit begins again next month (March 22-26) at Pier 94 on the west edge of Manhattan at 55th Street. Always starting in New York and then traveling to other major domestic design hubs, this annual soiree—hosed by Architectural Digest and benefiting DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS)—is a party to behold.

2012 will be (I think) my 10th year in attendance—thanks originally to my mentor from my early 20’s (to present), Ted Kruckel, who brought me to my first DBD as his assistant. I got all gussied up, shadowed him and took notes: who he spoke with, highlights of the event including food, flow, lighting, celebrities (and famous drag queens), you know… the vitals. All it took was one beach-themed table with barely-dressed lifeguards and I was hooked. Now, every year, I look forward to the the feast of visual and culinary inspiration that is DBD; the new and exciting decor ideas, the classics reinvented, delicious bites from top chefs, endless cocktails, impulsive silent auction must-haves, and the run-ins with old friends. Here are a sampling of my photos from last year’s unveiling.


Benjamin Moore exhibit: creative way to make light of the vast array of their hues.


DVF's table. Fun atmosphere.


Super chic and so well done! I didn't catch who designed it but makes me think of the Furry Wall song from Russell Brand's flick, Get Him to the Greek.


This table smelled so good! Fragrant spring flowers at each setting will make for happy guests.

With friend, Marc Blackwell at his table. He grew amaryllis all summer (for the foliage, not the flower), photographed them and then blew them up to decorate his super comfortable, custom table.

Loved this comfy, technicolor party table by Scandia. Great atmosphere!

Great atmosphere and fabulous mid-century chairs. LOVE the wings, very rock n roll

Ralph Lauren table. They always do a nice job but this year was so simple (looking) and country comfy.


My husband, Ryerson Kipp, of The DSM Group with designer Michael Tavano. Note Michael's amazing chairs with lucite back and flokati seats! yum

Click here to see more photos from DBD 2011 in my event coverage for Health & Life magazine from last March.
To learn more about DBD and DIFFA and to buy tickets (will be on sale soon).
To host your own installation click here. To contribute to the silent auction click here.

NYC Holiday Window Recap

The always stylish, hilarious, and painfully honest, Ted Kruckel, recently reviewed NYC’s luxury brands’ holiday propaganda for his column in BizBash. Ted: “A while back, my editors asked me to take a look at this year’s holiday windows in Manhattan, a plum assignment, but still I procrastinated like crazy. So here, finally, stripped down to the core,” are a sampling of his findings from Scanning New York’s Holiday Windows: Notes on Tiffany, Saks, Lady Gaga, Tasteful Scaffolding, and More

Bergdorf Goodman
“I love the crazy luxe of the BG windows, overseen forever by fashion director Linda Fargo and her team. They are like beautiful fantasies you want to crawl into and live in forever. They are all so brilliant and zanily detailed, I could spend hours just on them. But I’m sticking to highlights. One small window in the front has a sequined Oscar de la Renta dress that must cost a zillion dollars. (My editor told me there was no time for fact-checking, sorry!) The sequins follow an absurdly ornate print in dark reds, exotic purples and blues, really every color under the sun, and the whole window is dark and moody and vaguely Oriental, and I know it is not cool to say Oriental, but that is the word that comes to mind.” –Ted

“Across the street at the men’s store is a gentleman’s club meets taxidermist, with different animal heads topping the various suited mannequins. It isn’t outrageous, just clubby and cool.” –Ted

Bottega Venetta
“Up until now, I have been convinced that Bottega Venetta can do no wrong. Beautiful products, tasteful branding and advertising. Its windows are color-driven by pink and orange ready-to-wear and accessories. It is pretty enough. But there are these weird white things on the floors of all the windows. Is it snow? On closer inspection, I see that these are replicas of their bags and totes carved out of what looks like soap. Finally, I see one has a little white thing sticking out of the top. Oh, they’re candles. So I go in and ask where the candles are. They are display only, not for sale, which makes me want one even more. So I ask, what time do you light them each night? Oh, we don’t light them. So then what is the point? I leave kind of relieved that they have such a small and fruitless concept.” –Ted

St. John
“Here’s the winner, hands down, for the ugliest windows. There are others that are tackier, or more vulgar, but none come close to the mud-gray velour curtains that reveal some yellow-and-black brocade eveningwear. I wonder, “Is it winter or resort?” I decide that no season is the right one to wear any of these hideous fabrics.” –Ted

If you want to keep the laughter going click here for the full article with all twenty critical recaps of designer holiday disasters and masterpieces.
And click here to check out more of Ted’s always-funny endeavors at BizBash.
Above photos by Jika González for BizBash.