For nearly 50 years, the Kips Bay Decorator Show House has been the interior design showcase—a home that many designers can only dream of decorating. The annual display operates out of New York City as a fundraiser for the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club, which provides educational and developmental programs for underprivileged youth.
Every year since 1973, a selection of the country’s best designers and architects has taken over a mansion, each redecorating an assigned space—the kitchen, a guest room, the back yard, the foyer, etc.—and flaunting their personal style and skill. Since then, it’s added a second satellite house in Palm Beach, Florida, in 2017 and a third in Dallas in 2020.
This fall, 24 esteemed designers, some celebrated in their fields, some up-and-comers, will transform one room each in the same Old Preston Hollow house—and the public will get to admire their handiwork September 23–October 23.
Of the 24 designers, four are based in Dallas: Ashley Avrea Cathey of Avrea and Company, landscape architects Harold Leidner Company, Noel Pittman, and Ann Schooler of Schooler, Kellogg & Company, who also owns Wolf Hall Antiques. Several others have showrooms here as well.
Kips Bay seeks diversity of experience in its designers, says Nazira Handal, who organizes all of Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club’s events, the largest of which is the annual show house. The organization wants to highlight not just well-known figures, but to kickstart young careers as well.
“We want to showcase newcomers,” she says. “We’ve had lots of designers’ careers take off after decorating just a small closet or bathroom.”
Meet the New Faces
One newcomer is Noel Pittman. Her new-to-Dallas firm couldn’t be younger, having been founded only three months ago, making the designer’s selection in the showcase all the more impressive. “I’ve always loved going to Kips Bay,” Pittman says, explaining that she landed her first interior design internship with a Kips Bay designer years ago after attending a New York show house and contacting some of the show’s participants. “It’s such an amazing showcase of talent. It’s an honor to be included.”
After her internship ended, Pittman began her design work in the New York hospitality sector before relocating to Los Angeles to focus on residential projects. Last summer, she completed a project in Dallas, and Pittman started finding more clients in Texas. Charmed by the state’s hospitality, she decided to make the move. Now she spends her days overseeing the installation of her Kips Bay-assigned laundry room—days she’s dreamed of her whole career.
… and the Familiar Faces, Too
Another featured local is Harold Leidner. While this is his first Kips Bay experience, the landscape architect is no newcomer—Leidner’s a longtime veteran of Dallas landscaping. He founded his eponymous company 30 years ago, gaining favor over time designing outdoor spaces in some of the city’s most prestigious neighborhoods. He prides himself on the loyalty of his customers. “If you like me, you’ll see a lot of me,” he says.
Harold Leidner Company was a natural selection for this year’s landscaping, as he originally landscaped the property back in the late 1980s. Its function, however, has changed over the years. “Back then it was a horse farm,” he says. “So, we’re just gonna make it look a little more contemporary. It’s all about restoring what’s already there.”
But What is Kips Bay?
Although this is Kips Bay’s third show house in Dallas, some interior design novices might still be wondering what all the hubbub is all about. So we tapped Handal and Pittman to answer some of our burning questions.
Why did Kips Bay come to Dallas?
In 2020, Kips Bay was unable to host a show house in New York due to COVID regulations, so the team looked to Texas. Dallas was a natural choice because of its vibrant design community, Handal says. And the Kips Bay team has been far from disappointed with its first two Dallas iterations. Held at 5828 Woodland Dr. in 2020 and 5138 Deloache Ave. in 2021, the events hosted over 8,500 and 11,000 attendees, respectively. “We’re so grateful to have been welcomed by Dallas the way we have,” she says. “Maybe it’s the Southern hospitality.”
What’s the application process like?
For most of its history, Kips Bay kept traditional alive by insisting designers submit physical portfolios, but somewhere in the pandemic, it surrendered to the convenience of online submissions, Handal says. This decision seems to have aided Kips Bays’ ability to exhibit newcomers. “I was nervous to apply,” Pittman says, admitting she filled out the online application on the Friday before the Monday it was due. “But I’m so glad I did.”
What’s new to this year’s event?
Kips Bay is adding a President’s Dinner to the Dallas schedule this year. The exclusive event, which has already sold out, will take place at the show house on September 20, allowing guests a sneak peek before it opens to the public on September 23. Chaired by Claire Emmanuelson and interior designer Jan Showers, the dinner will act as an additional fundraiser for Kips Bay as well as the organization’s local partner charities, Dwell with Dignity and The Crystal Charity Ball, both chosen for their Dallas design community connections and alignment with Kips Bay’s values.
What’s the house like?
This year, the designers will take over 9250 Meadowbrook Dr., a palatial 12,470-square-foot mansion in Old Preston Hollow’s Sunnybrook Estates. One of the challenges of organizing such a large event, Handal says, is finding the right property each year. It’s a big ask to borrow an in-demand home for a few months, let alone allow designers to show off their skills inside and open its doors for the public to tour. But Handal says she lucked out with the Old Preston Hollow home she scored for 2022, explaining the owners have been very generous and the 2.3-acre property is just gorgeous. “Anyone who walks in will just be amazed.”
How will the designers and architects transform the rooms?
Each creative is given free rein to design their space according to their personal styles. “I like fresh takes on traditional and shy away from trends,” says Pittman. “The look of a room should stay relevant over time.” Pittman plans to incorporate warm colors to correspond with the changing leaves outside the laundry room’s large window. She’s turned to the work of traditional architects for inspiration, studying the work of New York architects Robert Stern and Gil Schafer “obsessively.” She wants the overall vibe of the space “to feel traditional, but still cozy and charming. I always keep the house’s location in mind, and I want this to feel like Dallas.”
Sept. 23–Oct. 23. 9250 Meadowbrook Dr. Tickets can be purchased online at kipsbaydecoratorshowhouse.org.