How 20+ Designers Transformed a 1920s Era Townhouse In NYC

Take a tour of this year’s Kips Bay Decorator Show House. Beware: The before and after photos are shocking.

Photo By: Richard Rabel

Photo By: Nickolas Sargent

Photo By: Magrino PR

Photo By: Nickolas Sargent

Photo By: Jim Dove

Photo By: Nickolas Sargent

Photo By: Magrino PR

Photo By: Nickolas Sargent

Photo By: Magrino PR

Photo By: Vicente Wolf Associates

Photo By: Magrino PR

Photo By: Nickolas Sargent

Photo By: Magrino PR

Photo By: Nickolas Sargent

Photo By: Nickolas Sargent

Photo By: Nickolas Sargent

Photo By: Magrino PR

Photo By: Nickolas Sargent

Photo By: Magrino PR

Photo By: Nickolas Sargent

Photo By: Magrino PR

Photo By: Nickolas Sargent

Photo By: Magrino PR

Photo By: Marco Ricca

Photo By: Nickolas Sargent

Photo By: Magrino PR

Photo By: Nickolas Sargent

Photo By: Magrino PR

Photo By: Nickolas Sargent

Photo By: Magrino PR

Photo By: Nickolas Sargent

Photo By: Magrino PR

Photo By: Nickolas Sargent

Photo By: Magrino PR

Photo By: Nickolas Sargent

Photo By: Magrino PR

Photo By: Nickolas Sargent

Photo By: Magrino PR

Photo By: Ngoc Minh Ngo

Photo By: Nickolas Sargent

The Home

The history of 36-38 East 74th Street in New York City is almost as grand as its exterior. The home was once owned by members of New York’s high society, including George Whitney Calhoun and Dorothy Hearst Paley.

Over the years, however, the townhouse fell into disrepair. Behind its still-impressive brick facade, the interior’s design was deteriorating: Cream colored walls, dated surfaces or peeling wallpaper occupied almost every room. That is, until this May, when it became the 47th Kips Bay Decorator Show House. More than 20 designers showed up, each assigned to one room, and got to work on the renovations.

Less than three months later, the reno was complete, and now an estimated 15,000 people will tour the townhouse in the 30 days it’s open to the public (all proceeds go to the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Clubs of America).

We’ve seen it up close; the place is stunning. And while you may not have gotten the chance to visit, you came to the right place. HGTV.com is taking you on an extensive tour: Up the spiral staircase and through each of the five (yes, five!) floors we’ll go. Be prepared to witness a total transformation—before pictures included.

Foyer and Gallery: Before

The entrance to the townhouse was certainly not as chic as its exterior. With cream walls and light green trim crawling up the staircase, the space needed some help.

Foyer and Gallery: After

Enter designer Richard Rabel, who transformed the space into a luxe entryway. His aesthetic was inspired by memories of chasing peacocks around his grandparents’ property as a child. Here, lush hues of blue and green paired with metallic golds and silvers create a moody and modern space. Organic motifs in the Japanese style pull the whole look together.

Mudroom: Before

Before this space became a mudroom, it was a bland reception room—located right next to the front door.

Mudroom: After

After Sheila Bridges was done, this room was anything but bland. She turned the reception area into a welcome room for dogs and their walkers, then dubbed it, "Le Salon Des Chiens." Wall art celebrates the relationship between humans and canines, while a dog tub and a table covered in treats tops it all off. This mudroom is truly a pet’s paradise.

Wet Bar: Before

When Jim Dove first saw this small space, tucked between the reception hall and the formal rooms, he wasn’t deterred by its petite parameters; he was intrigued.

Wet Bar: After

"My vision [here] was to create an intimate and luxurious refuge from a grand soiree or a private hideaway for a conspiratorial tete-a-tete over a last glass of champagne ... perhaps between Lee Radziwill and Truman Capote," Jim says.

To pull this off, he selected an inky blue Schumacher wallcovering and used ornamental crown and picture molding. The most alluring part of the space is the gold framed artwork by Alan Strack—an abstract piece featuring film from Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Kitchen: Before

The kitchen before its reno was dated: Black and white checkered floors set the foundation for old, wooden cabinets.

Kitchen: After

Now the kitchen is a warm, welcoming hub filled with natural materials and touches of gold, all complemented by olive colored cabinets—reflective of designer Christopher Peacock’s mother’s taste. The finished product was exactly how Christopher envisioned it: Not fancy or overdone, but a simple and practical space reminiscent of the wonderful kitchen in his childhood home outside of London.

"Rather than play to the crowd, and go for the glam, this time around I wanted to keep it personal," he explains.

Breakfast Room: Before

This drab breakfast room was home to nothing but an old, ornate fireplace before its renovation.

Breakfast Room: After

Now, Vicente Wolf’s "Dreaming Room" is a sanctuary far removed from the room’s original aesthetic. Energetic purple walls and rows of greenery light up this design, while Kohler’s Ceric soaking tub, a reminder to relax, lies front and center. Here, Wolf manages to bring juxtaposing elements—ying and yang, interior and exterior, reality and fantasy—into one warm space.

Stairway: Before

Going up! While impressive in architecture, this four-story spiral staircase—situated under a skylight—was nothing special decoratively ... until Brian Gluckstein stepped in.

Stairway: After

The most imposing aspect of Brian’s design is probably the golden, hand-crafted cherry blossoms that hang all the way down the staircase to form a 30-foot suspended mobile. In the midst of admiring the mobile, it’s easy to miss the smaller details: Grass cloth wallpaper, hand painted faux paneling and the baby blue custom carpet, which—when looking down from the top floor—"looks like a fan," Brian explains to HGTV.com.

Main Living Room: Before

With so many windows, this large room was basking in a good amount of natural light, but it still needed some work.

Main Living Room: After

"With my room, I intend to take viewers on a fantastical voyage through the cutting edge of today’s art and design universe," explains designer Jeff Lincoln. The rug—a new design by Paul Robinson for The Rug Company called Lagoon—sets the foundation for the whole space. The walls received a custom Venetian plaster finish, a neutral choice meant to make the rest of the room’s contemporary furnishings shine.

Dining Room: Before

With three beautiful windows and a fireplace far right, we saw the potential in this space.

Dining Room: After

And Cullman & Kravis Associates did too! The new "Rhapsody in Blue" dining room was designed to highlight the work of Cullman & Kravis’s young, cutting-edge designers. We love the midnight-blue-lacquered walls as well as the gold, handcrafted embellishments above the fireplace.

Study: Before

Before the renovation this second-floor room was just blah.

Study: After

Corey Damen Jenkins took the idea of a classic study and completely turned it around. "Historically, home libraries and dens have been referred to as the 'Gentleman’s Study.' But what if a woman is the primary user of the formal library?" Corey wondered.

With pale blush walls, bookcases wrapped in grass cloth and a 1940s crystal-encrusted chandelier, Corey created a light and airy space—a stark contrast to the darker, more manly studies of the past. "This study pays homage to the women who run the world," he says.

Pro tip: "If you have kids or are worried about investing in nice wallpaper only to have it ruined, splurge on more expensive wallpaper for the ceiling. Kids can’t get to it up there," Corey tells HGTV.com. The ceiling of his study was hand painted, totally beautiful and definitely unreachable!

From: Corey Damen Jenkins

Bedroom: Before

First stop on the third floor: A back bedroom. While the warm yellow walls weren't terrible, this space wasn’t in the best shape.

Bedroom: After

With the idea of a Parisian houseguest in mind, Peter Pennoyer totally transformed this space. Now, the walls are draped in gray and blue Schumacher coverings, while bejeweled pillows, layered textures and hints of marigold bring bright moments to the design. The finishing touch: A ceramic turtle whose shell opens to reveal an ink jar (placed on the back desk).

Master Bedroom: Before

This third floor master bedroom had no personality before designer Charlotte Moss got her hands on it.

Master Bedroom: After

Lands of contrast, flickering lights, paisleys and palm trees along the Nile are just some of the motifs that inspired Charlotte’s design. Straying away from the traditional blue and white color palette, she instead draped the bedroom in shades of periwinkle and cream. Tropical and worldly touches placed throughout create a beautiful bedroom full of "visual memories (a place to dream)."

Bedroom: Before

If you think the lighting in this front bedroom was wasn't too bad before the renovation, you should see the new design.

Bedroom: After

Now it’s unrecognizable! Eve Robinson Associates took the room’s lighting and ran with it. The new space, christened "A Room of One’s Own," is bright and magical, draped in soft pinks, creams and metallics—the perfect tribute to Virginia Woolf’s renowned feminist text.

"Our room is filled with ethereal strength, form and function," says Eve. "It embodies the lives and achievements of our everyday heroes—women."

Bedroom: Before

This third-floor bedroom had good natural lighting, but that was about it.

Bedroom: After

The well-lit bedroom turned out to be the perfect space for Paloma Contrera’s "Spring Awakening" study. Wallpapered panels (by deGournay) and luxe silk curtains give the space a vibrant aesthetic. "The room is a study in color used in a very mindful way, and showcases my signature modern-meets-traditional style," explains Paloma.

Bedroom: Before

Our first stop on the fourth floor is a bedroom—pretty bland, save for a stunning terrazzo fireplace.

Bedroom: After

Pappas Miron Design loved the terrazzo fireplace so much they decided to integrate it into the room’s eclectic decorations. The team pulled inspiration from a mix of periods to create "Palazzo Terazzo," a luxurious sitting room. A cream boucle on the 1970s styled custom-sofa paired with the tufted antique lounge chair are just a few of the timeless accessories placed throughout the space.

Living Room: Before

A large space without much going on.

Living Room: After

Created by J. Cohler Mason Design for a family who loves to entertain at home, this room is glam but livable. "I wanted to give [it] some touches of glam without going over the top," explains Jennifer. The textured walls (by Benjamin Moore) and a yellow channeled back sofa bring her vision to life.

Maid’s Quarters: Before

It took some creativity to figure out what to do with this oddly shaped space on the far side of the fourth floor.

Maid’s Quarters: After

But Studio DB was just the team for the job. They transformed the maid’s quarters into "Smoke and Mirrors," a calming, modern interpretation of a sexy boudoir. While the bold clawfoot tub in the center of the room immediately caught our eye, it’s the deep green walls and sensuous curving window seats that have us wanting to hunker down in this charming space.

Maid’s Bathroom: Before

This small bathroom attached to the maid’s quarters before the renovation was unexciting.

Maid’s Bathroom: After

Now we'd happily get ready in here. The modern spin on this bathroom was a major success for Studio DB. Graphic marble tiles from Alison Rose for Artistic Tile make the space shine.

Office: Before

A dated desk took up the entirety of this small, fourth floor office.

Office: After

Out went the desk and in came abstract art, stylish furnishings and milkwash finishes. Katherine Newman’s "Pink Dragon Study" represents perseverance and strength, and is the perfect mix of contemporary and classic.

"Rather than bold statement design, we still believe in elegance," says Katherine.

Living Room: Before

The mirrors in this small living room were removed to reveal patterned peeling wallpaper. Designer Sarah Bartholomew had a lot of work to do!

Living Room: After

The loveliest part of this redesign are the fluted wall panels—they act as a bright and neutral backdrop for Sarah’s "A Room of Her Own." Here she uses minimalism to turn a small living room into "the perfect marriage of beauty and peace."

Living Room: Before

Up to the final level! The fifth floor—accessed by either an elevator or a tight spiral staircase off the main one—is home to three sizable rooms. Our first stop is the living room, a large space facing the back gardens.

Living Room: After

Robert Passal in collaboration with Daniel Kahan introduces "Sala de Reflexion," a space inspired by the refined salons of Paris in the 20th century. Washed pastels and natural hues give the room a calming ambiance, while materials—plaster, wood, marble and bronze—layered with textiles pull it all together.

Bedroom: Before

There’s nothing too enticing about this back bedroom, besides the fact that it has three windows.

Bedroom: After

Designer Matthew Monroe was inspired by Charleston, SC, and the city’s beauty is most certainly reflected in this warm and grand sitting room. Drapery, portraits and luxurious furnishings come together in a space reminiscent of the past but made for the present.

Studio With Bath: Before

The architectural beauty of the home really stands out in this fifth-floor space. It’s said owners from the past had their kids take art lessons in this room—and we believe it. Look at that skylight!

Studio With Bath: After

Ironically enough, before even knowing what the room was once used for, designer Young Huh envisioned it as an art studio—the overhead lighting is that good! Her magical design, called "Young at Art," explores the allure of an artist’s studio. The walls are covered with Fromental’s Braque (a large-scale collage inspired by Cubism), while a Maison Gerard easel and an array of abstract art complement the rest of the accessories.

The closet, painted a bold pink and filled with cans of paint and figurine palm trees, is a happy surprise.

Thanks for Coming

Don't forget to admire the spiral staircase on your way out! You can find more information about the Kips Bay Decorator Show House here.