Friday, April 8, 2011

The Travellers: Chimneypiece

The Kips Bay Showhouse room's chimneypiece was featured in HOUSE BEAUTIFUL FIREPLACES.
I am often asked if my projects involve a complete purge of the owners' belongings and a total refurnishing;  usually they do not unless the project is a second (or third) home.  More often, there are pieces to be accomodated in the new project, but perhaps used in a different way.  This is the first of a series of posts  The Devoted Classicist calls The Travellers showing a piece of furniture, architectural fragment or art that has travelled from one location to another.
John Tackett Design helped Mariette Himes Gomez with her Dining Room in the 1991 Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse, an extremely popular New York City event that benefits the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club.  For four weeks each Spring, a large house that is on the market for sale has each room decorated by a different designer and open to the paying public.  That year, the house was 121 East 73rd Street, a handsome 1908 Federal Revival style townhouse of about 12,000 square feet.  The same house had been used in 1989 and the Dining Room was decorated to wide acclaim by Ruben de Saavedra (1933-1990).  Mr. de Saavedra was at the peak of his career, beloved by the media and deep-pocketed clients alike, and he had designed his showhouse room in an opulent European style with the walls upholstered with padded striped silk to compliment the lavish furnishings he had chosen.  For the 1991 showhouse, the building's owner stipulated that neither the silk wallcoverings nor the Adamesque chimneypiece could be removed, but they could be covered as long as the room was returned to the previous appearance.

The Kips Bay room was named one of "America's 10 Best Showhouse Rooms" in 1991 by House Beautiful Magazine.
As the de Saavedra room was so memorable, Mariette Himes Gomez wanted to create an entirely different, less formal decor with the space becoming a combination Dining-Sitting Room.  A heavy, loosely woven, natural Haitian cotton covered the silk walls and I designed a moderne mahogany form to cover the exisiting chimneypiece.

The London apartment was featured in the British magazine House & Garden.
After the showhouse, the furnishings that were not borrowed went to storage.  Later, when Mariette decided an apartment in London would be convenient, some the items were reused, including the chimneypiece.

The Anglo-Indian and Anglo-Chinese armchairs were also reused in the London apartment.
A new house or renovated apartment should have the capability of accomodating furnishings from the previous residence, if the owners desire.   In future posts, there will be examples of using an owner's belongings in a different way in the new house or apartment.


  1. Hello:
    A most interesting post. Most people do, we believe, have furniture and furnishings which they all too readily dispense with. It is good,therefore, to hear how possessions can be utilised in a new setting or environment.

    We are so pleased to have discovered your blog and are signing up as Followers immediately.

  2. Funny, I happened to pull the Hines book off the shelf this very morning and flipped through it for the first time in ages.

    Fascinating post.

  3. I remember coming across the Gomez London apartment when it was first published in a magazine, and was struck by its handsomeness at the time, and it has resonated with me ever since. I look forward to your subsequent posts on traveling decor...

  4. So important to re-use, (re-cycle?) where it can be done. The chimneypiece certainly travels well, and I've done that before...

    I also am very keen on the round convex mirror in the last picture, the image repeated in the Anglo Indian chairs; so like a repetition used in this way.

  5. Wonderful post! I also have the Hines book, and have often looked at this room. The mantel and large round mirror that is paired with it are excellent together.

  6. Marietta Himes Gomez has long been one of my most favorite designers. I have all of her books and have admired that chimney piece for some time. How fun to learn that you designed it!
    Lynn from Decor Arts Now.


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