Eve Robinson’s Rooms for the Kips Bay Show House, 1998

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It was a house that heralded an era of less “conventional” decorating and the emergence of several younger designers with iconoclastic ideas of “less being more” and mixing styles with abandon. And these rooms by Eve Robinson, for the Kips Bay Show House exhibition in 1998, epitomize the whimsical mixed with the practical, adding a soupçon of “coloring outside the lines.” That wall in the study, behind the plump white couch? It’s a takeoff on a woven apple basket (see the green apples in a bowl on the coffee table for a subtle tie-in). And, no, your eyes aren’t deceiving you: the bathtub in these pictures really is filled with grass! (It apparently became quite the “decorating accessory” for forward-thinkers at the time.)

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Facetiousness aside, there’s a freshness to these rooms meant as relief after years of what one designer called “English country house…that swept down Park Avenue like a wave.” As this room is a combined sitting room and informal work site, it’s an especially fun touch that the “woven” wall intersects another wall with papers pinned on it in rows, as if mimicking the basket look. And in that bathroom? There’s more than a lawn in the tub here: classic-styled lights, marble vanities, and ceramic tile make it a neat, functional space — down to the labels of “his” and “hers” before the sinks. In this charity house, you might be reminded of a visit to the home of a slightly eccentric aunt — only one who’s closer to your age than Grandma’s. And that’s not a bad thing, when it comes to sparking a decorating imagination.

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