Queer Eye for Kips Bay
Craig Kellogg -- Interior Design, 7/1/2004 12:00:00 AM
Before his career makeover, he was simply another Parish-Hadley Associates alum with a small namesake studio. But since he debuted as the decorating expert on Bravo's smash hit Queer Eye for the Straight Guy—demonstrating a flair with mass-market furniture and punchy color—Thom Filicia has become a name big enough for New York's august Kips Bay Decorator Show House, domain of Jamie Drake, Tom Britt, and company.
When Waterworks sales and marketing director Dennis Scully, an occasional collaborator on Filicia's off-air commissions, suggested a partnership for Kips Bay 2004, he immediately saw the benefits of some show-house exposure. "It's important that people know me as more than a television personality," he says.
The first visit to the show house's Federal-style mansion led to a frenetic evening of drinks and napkin sketches at a low-key Upper East Side bar. "It's such a funny scene now when you're out with Thom. You could see that everyone wanted autographs," says Scully—who admits he's not immune. "That napkin would've been a nice keepsake."
Assigned a bedroom overlooking Park Avenue, the pair recast the 350-square-foot space as a vast gentleman's bathroom. In Filicia's version of the fantasy, the client was a mogul who might spend one week a month in Manhattan, arriving and departing via a helicopter pad on the house's roof. Scully went so far as to flirt with the idea of himself in the Master of the Universe role.
Their combined visions ultimately involved $350,000 in Waterworks fixtures and fittings, installed by Queer Eye's production team. As soon as the honed flint-limestone tiles were laid as a running-bond floor and an existing bathroom was walled off, a water closet for a toilet and bidet took shape by the room's entry. White-painted cabinets in the vestibule received the full Queer Eye treatment, becoming a flashy shoe-storage unit with dark gray paint and glass drawer fronts. And walls clad in slender mosaic tiles of smoky copper-flecked glass received a glittering lift from the occasional antiqued-mirror tile scattered among them.
Transitioning into the installation's main room, the mirrored tile took over the entire frieze running above the grass-cloth wall panels. Scully, a devotee of bespoke tailoring, suggested the fawn-colored wool suiting fabrics for the chairs in the far corner. Opposite, Filicia parked a copper soaking tub on a burnished plinth of rosewood and ebonized oak. In the middle, he placed a freestanding glass shower enclosure, far sexier than anything else at Kips Bay this year.
"Everyone thought it was so modern. I was like, Really?" he says, perhaps sounding a bit more mediagenic than intended. Never mind—his star turn still stole the show.