Kingston Design Connection: Creating Community Through Great Design
In December I had the incredible opportunity to visit the Kinston Design Connection Showcase House! I had learned about this project the year before, just after the previous design house closed, and I was super bummed that I had missed it. Since then I have literally had my calendar marked and I have been anxiously counting down the days to visit this one. Let me tell you, I was not disappointed in the slightest! I donned my booties and was ready to go!
Obligatory Selfie at the third annual Kingston Design House (2020)
Booties on, ready to rock!
The concept behind the showcase house is that each room is designed by a local designer (yay!) in hopes of highlighting their own unique style while drawing attention to and supporting local makers, contractors, artists and entrepreneurs in the region. With this being the first design house I have visited, I thought the concept was BRILLIANT!
The Hudson Valley has always drawn creative types and has a rich history of entrepreneurship, however, when most people think of artists they usually think Woodstock or the town of Catskill. Seeing this showcase though made me thrilled to see that Kingston is finally getting the recognition and accolades it deserves! It's great to finally see the super special arts scene that is flourishing here. Additionally, while visiting the house, it was a really great experience to talk with each designer personally, as well as some of the entrepreneurs, who created pieces in each of the rooms. I was able to learn more about their work, their design process, but also about how they created and built their businesses. I was soaking as much knowledge up as I could.
Maryline Damour, of Damour Drake, is the inspiring creator of this annual event. Speaking with her was a major highlight of my visit. She shared with me her own goals behind creating this project, her journey of how she build her own design business and why, as well as the inspiration behind the design for her room this year. Maryline's vision to bring the community together through design deeply resonated with me.
I have often felt that design is usually associated and reserved for people with privilege, unfortunately. And this is probably one reason why it is very hard for me to leave my educational career and to jump into designing and renovating full time, even though I am super passionate about it. I want to make a difference culturally and fight inequity. It's very clear how you are able to do that through education, but it hasn't been so clear to me how you can fight this battle through design, up until now. Maryline definitely gave me a new framework and ideas on how great design and address inequities.
In touring the house I learned a lot more as well and I fell in love with all of the rooms for different reasons. They each had really unique pieces or points of view. It definitely got my creative juices flowing and I was able to see myself tackling a project of this level one day.
One of my favorite rooms was a little one tucked away up in a turret. Designed by KD Reid of KD Reid Interiors, it drew me in because it was a magical little nook that was a perfect blend of plushness and the raw elements of nature. I think that it really spoke to me because as I discover more and more what my style is, I realize this was the closest I have come to it. I love cozy, textures like plush velvets, faux furs. I am drawn to soft seating as well but I also equally love beautiful wood surfaces, in this case the petrified wood table, lush plants and elements of mixed metals sprinkled throughout.
This seating area was beckoning me. I could picture myself curling up and reading a book on the love seat, or pulling out my laptop and getting some work done. This design synthesized my style in a way that no other room has before. It resonated to my core. Not to mention it was attached to the gorgeous deck that carried the same balance and style outside creating two additional living spaces, barring bad weather of course. This design pushed me to really begin to be able to articulate my own design aesthetic in a more coherent way.
A sitting room designed by KD Reid Interiors
Dining alfresco designed by KD Reid Interior Designs
Designed by KD Reid Interior Designs
Another room that stood out to me was the library designed by Patrick Ryan of Patrick Ryan's Office. It had a piece of furniture that was extremely unique and unlike anything I had ever seen before. It was a plywood recliner that was situated near the bar (my favorite) and draped with fur (faux I'm hoping?). Named F1 Chaise and created by FN Furniture, it was definitely the stand out piece of the design. While the chaise lounge wasn't my exact style per-say, I was very much intrigued by the design of it and respected the thought process that went into developing it. What made it so unique was that it was designed and cut out from a single sheet of plywood with the goal of creating zero waste. That means no excess plywood was shaved off, or thrown away. Every cut created puzzle pieces that when built together like a 3D puzzle, thus creating this very distinct lounge chair. Furthermore, the chair reclined gracefully and was incredibly comfortable. It reminded me of everything I love conceptually about the mid-century furniture. It's classic, sleek, made to last from a designer who is extremely detail oriented. I loved that Patrick had used it in his room. (And did I mention the color of those bookshelves in the background?!? Swoon!)
F1 Chaise by FN Furniture
Room Designed by Patrick Ryan's Office
Bar designed by Patrick Ryan's Office
Another design moment that I was drawn to was the wallpaper in Maryline's Work-at-Home room. Initially, I wasn't sure why she chose it. It was a french toile backed in lime green, which was a bit unusual to begin with. But as I got closer though I could see that it wasn't your traditional toile. Maryline went on to explain to me that this print was called "Harlem Toile Wallpaper" and the designer, Sheila Bridges, also had the same wallpaper on display in the Smithsonian.
As a designer she had intentionally swapped out the people in the images to be that of slaves featured in traditional acts of leisure. It was a subtle nod to speak about the social justice issues our society has been facing and the historical narratives that have been woven into design traditionally. This wallpaper was a perfect fit for a room inspired by 2020. With the #blacklivesmatter movement really making headway, it seemed fitting to push boundaries in traditional design as well. I love when someone makes an unexpected twist on a classic design element. I thought it was brilliantly done and infused into the space.
Harlem Toile Wallpaper by Sheila Bridges
Harlem Toile Wallpaper designed by Sheila Bridges
Work-from-Home Room designed by Maryline Damour of Damour Drake Interiors
While meandering room to room in the house, I also came to the strong realization that as a designer I am super passionate and drawn to rich textures. In order for a room to work for me, it must have layer upon layer of different textures. Patterns and prints are nice, but a room will fall flat if you focus on just that.
One moment of brilliance that illuminated my exact point was the wool headboard featured in the master bedroom that was created by the incredibly talented Kat Howard. I mean talk about design gold! Not only was it beautiful, and interesting, and unlike anything I have ever seen before, but it was reminiscent of a fairytale cloud that a Care Bear would love to take a long sumptuous nap on! It was phenomenal! Aesthetically it worked for several reasons. The white helped lighten the dark coziness of the beige walls. The 3D element cast shadows when the light hit it at various angles. The scale of it was perfectly proportioned the space. I'm not going to lie, pictures simply don't do it justice. It was stunning and I will definitely incorporate Kat's pieces into rooms I design in the future.
Bedroom designed by Ariana Winston
Headboard Created by Kat Howard
Another great moment of texture from the #thirdannual_Kingstondesignshowhouse
A final thought I had while visiting the show house is how interesting it is that homes are like fingerprints, no two are alike. We are all different, and different pieces, colors, prints and textures all speak to us in different ways. Each room challenged me to look at the world slightly differently. The designs not only reflected the diversity of each of the designers, but it could not have been created without the influence of their own cultures, histories, experiences and stories. This design moment could only come together in the way that it did in this one moment in time. To me there is something sacred in that.
I am already counting down the days until the next Kingston Design Showcase House! It was an incredible experience and really propelled me to push myself further design wise.
I leave you with some other incredible design moments from the Third Annual Kingston Design Showcase house:
Sunroom designed by Krishna Fitzpatrick Interiors
Kitchen designed by Lava Interiors
Mudroom by Lava Interiors