The Mind of an Interior Designer: Katherine Shenaman


March 28, 2023

(Q) Let’s start with your name, your company, and your room.

A: My name is Katherine Shenaman and we called our suites, Primary Suites and Blu in the primary suite, as you might know. But we have both this entrance vestibule with our morning bar and behind us we have the dressing room. We’ve created a theme with blues, some teals, some aquas, a little bit of an aquatic theme. We actually have really fun octopus handles in the dressing room.

(Q) What does Kips Bay mean to you? What does it mean to be a designer for this showhouse?

A: Kips Bay to me is really about the Boys and Girls Club and I’m really excited that they partner with the local Boys and Girls Club. I think that’s really the crux of it all. I had a night out with Robert Bell, who was a landscape designer last year, and he talked about working with the local Boys and Girls Club to get the children to come over and actually plant in his garden. It reminded me of the whole point of this entire show, this entire production, all the stress we go through and everything is really about supporting the local boys and girls who attend the club, who are part of the club and were there for probably a really necessary reason. So that’s why I’m excited to participate. And it’s interesting, some people ask for free tickets here and there and I always remind them, well, I’d love to have you come as my guest, but remember you are supporting the local Boys and Girls Club. To me, it’s really special to be a part of that.

(Q) Tell us about your room and the inspiration behind the design?

A: I have the vestibule, which is the entrance to the entire suite with the morning bar. The owner was really keen on keeping the bar accessible with a sink, and our idea was to make it into something for tea or for coffee. It’s nice for the morning but also one could sneak a cocktail, have an evening, you know, aperitif as well. Because we’re on the water and because you look outside to the intercoastal, I wanted to do something with an aquatic theme, something appropriate for the area. This paper in particular has always been one of my favorites. It’s from the Japanese series by Gracie, and it’s always been a favorite. It’s one that is not used as often as some of the more traditional florals, so we spoke with Gracie and we’re really excited to use this. The paper to me ties into what’s happening outside. Then we carried a little bit of the underwater theme into the dressing room where we have a lady who’s underwater in our photograph and then we have the octopus handles as well.

(Q) When designing this room, what was the most important factor for you?

A: I would say the most important factor was doing something creative, something unique, something that really married both modern and eclectic and vintage together, but was still somewhat appropriate for the house. The house is a pseudo Spanish Mediterranean home that was built maybe ten years ago, 15 years ago. So it’s not a true Spanish Mediterranean home, but at the same time it is more traditional in nature. So we wanted to do something that at least complemented the House, although one may not pick it himself. One thing that’s interesting is all the men come and they say they love the bar because of the wood. It’s so handsome. It’s a beautiful walnut and we found handles that match. Men come in here all the time and say, oh my gosh, I love the bar. We’ve had a really good time figuring out what went in the space and then to see people’s reaction has been really fun.

(Q) What kind of vibe and aesthetic were you aiming to achieve in the project?

A: I had someone yesterday who was here with Kohler. She was filming in the bathroom. And she said, So how did you do this kind of Asian/ vintage/ 70s feel? I don’t know that was totally my goal, but I’m actually very proud of that because we do like vintage pieces. I do like a lot of the designers from the 70s, and this paper is from the Japanese series. As I mentioned, we’ve got some cherry blossoms here. I think it all came together. I think that was my intent without technically writing it down. So when somebody walked in yesterday and said, how did you get this? All of a sudden I knew that we’d done well. So even if you don’t articulate the exact description and it comes to life and somebody essentially calls you out on it, it’s actually really rewarding.

(Q) What did the stone help you accomplish in your overall design? What drew you to the stone you selected?

A: So when I went to visit Primestones, I knew the stone yard immediately. I’ve worked with you guys for a number of years and you do beautiful work. I wanted something that complimented the waves but didn’t distract from them because if I picked anything too bold, I think it would take away. We already knew that we were doing the stained walnut for the bar and the cabinetry, so we wanted something that was harmonious with the waves, but not overwhelming. This piece of marble has beautiful ivories and not whites, but they’re ivories and creams. Then there’s almost a caramel color that runs through it that’s really elegant. It represents the waves, but it doesn’t overpower them. So it came together beautifully. And again, the compliments that we get from both women and men when they come in are really rewarding. I think people really like it. 

I’m extremely happy with it. And also, we chose the brush brass faucet, which goes really well. We chose the Tuscany Avorio marble simply because it complements the waves, but it doesn’t take away from them. We absolutely love it.

Primestones was listed as the preferred stone vendor for the show House, which was wonderful. As soon as we showed up, Taryn greeted us and we walked through the whole warehouse. This was the stone that stuck out to me immediately. We went through a few different options, but I think this is our favorite. And that was it, seamless, easy. Everyone was very happy. It was a treat to work with Primestones.

(Q) Is there anything else that you would like to add?

A: This year has been really amazing. I haven’t worked with the Kips Bay Club before, but working with Nazira, working with the local Boys and Girls Club has been a dream. Nazira has made it all come together, they say some people just know how to do it and she knows how to do it. It’s been a real treat to work with everyone, all the sponsors, with you, the team. It’s been a real pleasure. Far more than I ever expected. Perfect.

Watch Katherine's interview here: