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Behind the Design: A Sophisticated, Mixed-Material Kitchen at the Kips Bay Decorator Show House in New York

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The Kips Bay Decorator Show House is a celebrated industry event and exhibition, showcasing the interior design talents of top professionals who each take on a room remodel of a luxury New York home. For nearly 50 years, this design showcase has inspired while making a difference, with proceeds benefiting the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club in New York City. At the heart of the Upper East Side townhouse transformed for the 47th annual Kips Bay New York Show House was a sophisticated kitchen featuring a masterful mix of materials and a high-contrast pairing of Cambria countertops.

Find out how the space came together from inspiration to installation with insight from the designer, Christopher Peacock of Christopher Peacock Cabinetry.

Inspiration for the 2019 Kips Bay Decorator Show House kitchen

Peacock’s vision came from the kitchen itself and the constraints of the space, but he was also inspired by his family for key design elements. “When I first saw the space, it was very small [with] low ceilings,” he notes. “I knew I couldn’t do anything too glamorous, but I wanted something that was handsome, sophisticated, and current in its feel. And then there was a backstory to the whole thing: My first Kips Bay Show House was 20 years ago and my parents came to that. I’ve [since] lost my parents so I thought this [kitchen] would be an homage to them. I used my mother’s favorite color (olive green) and I put an inscription into the cabinetry which was my father’s favorite saying (‘It is what it is.’).”

Olive green cabinetry, inspired by the designer’s mother, pairs with Cambria Blackpool Matte and Cambria White Cliff Matte in the 2019 Kips Bay New York kitchen.

Olive green cabinetry, inspired by the designer’s mother, pairs with Blackpool Matte™ and White Cliff Matte™ in the 2019 Kips Bay New York kitchen. Photo: Nickolas Sargent

Cambria Blackpool Matte countertops and with custom walnut drawers and brass accents.

Kitchen island featuring Blackpool Matte countertops and inscribed walnut drawers honoring the designer’s father.

Peacock designed the space to incorporate a mix of materials and not have any particular element be the standout feature of the room. “It is simple and tailored and all the materials work in harmony,” he explains.

Kitchen color palette with olive green cabinetry and two Cambria designs

“I wanted a handsome kitchen and something more ‘masculine,’ hence the darker color palette,” says Peacock. “I love dark colors and that’s what I wanted to do with the cabinetry (Ashwood Moss, Benjamin Moore). Ultimately, I wanted to have a very clean space, so I knew from the beginning that I wanted white walls and the olive green of the cabinetry.”

Cambria Blackpool Matte countertops create a darker kitchen palette with Cambria White Cliff Matte on the perimeter.

Olive green cabinetry and Blackpool Matte countertops create a darker kitchen palette, balanced by white walls and White Cliff Matte on the perimeter.

To complement the olive green cabinetry, Peacock selected two Cambria countertop designs: White Cliff Matte to infuse brightness on the perimeter and Blackpool Matte for a statement kitchen island. “When I was looking at Cambria, there was a lot to choose from and, frankly, I could have gone in a bunch of different directions,” Peacock explains. “The countertops had to be part of the story and I didn’t want them to necessarily compete visually. I was looking for the purest white I could find, which was what [Cambria] had. With the island countertop, I didn’t want a white countertop. I wanted something black that just soaked up the light and was not reflective. The matte black (Blackpool Matte) was just perfect. So [with] the two [designs], it just works with the scheme and looks fantastic.”

Cambria White Cliff Matte and Cambria Blackpool Matte design detail

Cambria Blackpool Matte and White Cliff Matte.

The Cambria countertops also ensure the kitchen is as functional as it is beautiful. Peacock likes that Cambria is “beautiful to look at, practical, has so many selections, and it lasts forever.” For a matte black countertop look, Cambria’s Blackpool Matte is a smart alternative to soapstone countertops. As for the advantages of Cambria over soapstone? “There are so many,” says Peacock. “Durability, consistency in the look, design flexibility, and the obvious hard-wearing and hygienic nature of Cambria.”

Cambria Blackpool Matte provides a durable soapstone alternative.

A durable soapstone alternative, Blackpool Matte makes a stunning and low-sheen matte black countertop for the kitchen island.

Custom kitchen island details

The kitchen island features a mix of materials that lend distinct character and visual interest to the space. The rich, monochromatic Blackpool Matte countertop pairs with a walnut butcher block accent (a signature Peacock element) and a custom brass edge detail. “I like to push the envelope a little bit,” says Peacock. “With the island countertop, I wanted it to feel strong and substantial compared to the perimeter countertops. I made it thicker and added this brass metal band that goes around the edge of it. The metal detail on the island matches the shelving and hood canopy detailing exactly.”

Cambria Blackpool Matte countertops with a brass band edge detail.

Brass band edge detail with Blackpool Matte countertops.

Cabinetry, hardware, and kitchen lighting

Part of Peacock’s vision for the space was to introduce a new brushed brass hardware from his collection at the show. The brass detailing of the hardware carries through the island edge detail, the open shelving over the windows, and an accent on the walnut range hood. The hardware on the whole kitchen is meant to tie it all together,” says Peacock. “I selected a simple recessed panel door, and custom hardware designed to embellish the look. I mixed soft brass, shagreen leather, and walnut against the dark green/gray of the cabinetry.” Cabinetry panels hide the refrigerator and other appliances for a streamlined, tailored look.

Brass accents create elegant and cohesive kitchen motif, from the hardware to the range hood and light fixture.

Brass detailing is an elegant and cohesive kitchen motif, from the hardware to the range hood and light fixture.

The rounded light fixture above the island is a symmetrical blossom shape accented with brass. “I always wanted to use this [fixture] somewhere,” says Peacock, “and the shape juxtaposed so well against the rectilinear design of the kitchen and hardware.”

Custom backsplash, shelving, and sink

The kitchen backsplash is a custom design composed of sliced English flint, adding a bold backdrop and earthy tones that pair well with the darker palette of olive green, walnut, and matte black.

A custom mosaic of English flint pairs well with olive green cabinets, walnut, and Cambria White Cliff Matte.

The kitchen backsplash, a custom mosaic of English flint, pairs well with olive green cabinets, walnut, and White Cliff Matte.

Open metal shelving over the windows keeps the perimeter bright and open, while echoing the brass banding on the island.

Brass detailed, open shelving provides airy feel to the space.

Open shelving provides a practical place for dishware above the sink and makes the space feel larger.

The stainless-steel sink from Kohler contrasts the kitchen’s brass accents and features a built-in cutting board and drying rack.

Brushed brass hardware and stainless-steel fixtures provide an interesting mixed metal look.

Mixed metals create a sleek effect in the kitchen with brushed brass hardware and stainless-steel fixtures. 

Working with the Cambria fabricator for Kips Bay New York

Peacock worked with Faithful Countertops to execute his kitchen design. They fabricated and installed the Cambria countertops and also took detailed templates. “It was a one-shot deal, so it had to be right first time, and it was,” says Peacock.

The kitchen features a Cambria Blackpool Matte island contrasted by a Cambria White Cliff Matte perimeter.

The kitchen features a Blackpool Matte island contrasted by a White Cliff Matte perimeter.

The island’s brass edge detail posed a unique challenge. “We had to drill into the material and then secure screws into the material, which was difficult, but we got it done,” says Peacock. The fabricators were amazing—they helped us every step of the way. They came in with incredible technology to measure this place, with laser-guided equipment and it was just honestly seamless.”

Eric Tchorz, owner of Faithful Countertops, explains, “We’ve invested in Digital Laser Templating Machines that allow our technicians to flawlessly measure any room and to catch on any imperfections during the layout verification process. This allows us to eliminate all the fabrication errors, at the same time making our installers job a lot smoother.”

The Cambria fabricator executed custom edges on the Cambria Blackpool Matte kitchen island.

The Cambria fabricator executed Peacock’s vision, including custom edges on the Blackpool Matte kitchen island.

According to Tchorz, “the most challenging aspect was creating seamless mitered edges on the kitchen island. It’s never easy to work with dark, especially black, surfaces. Our team had to be very careful with the adhesive used for the build-up edge mitering process. Making a perfect color match was crucial here, as well as making a precise cut for the Christopher Peacock signature butcher block.”

Unique challenges designing the Kips Bay Decorator Show House kitchen

The fabrication of the Cambria countertops was just one piece of the challenging design process and fast-tracked timeline for the show. “Working in a show house is always a high-pressure situation,” says Peacock. “You have five weeks from the first time you see the room to the finished product. From the time we first saw the space, we had to basically design, manufacture, deliver, install, and finish our kitchen—which is fully operational. That included gutting the original kitchen, doing plumbing and electrics, laying floors, doing lighting, and everything.”

Olive green cabinetry paired with Cambria White Cliff Matte countertops, brass hardware, and open shelving.

Olive green cabinetry paired with White Cliff Matte countertops, brass hardware, and open shelving.

While the small space and low ceilings made the room a challenge, Peacock had the right team to pull it off. “Working with all of our partners has been a pleasure,” he says. “Everybody’s worked together and I think the end result is wonderful. I’m really pleased with it.”

For more show house spotlights, check out these spaces from the 2019 Kips Bay Decorator Show House in Palm Beach: a stunning baker’s kitchen from Vyda Fine Interiors and a celebration-inspired master bathroom from Krista + Home.

Our thanks to Christopher Peacock for sharing his insight behind the design of the Kips Bay Decorator Show House New York kitchen. See more from his team at Christopher Peacock.