Our Lead Designer on his Experience with Kips Bay NYC 2023

Ahmad AbouZanat, our lead designer of PROJECT AZ, was selected to participate in the prestigious Kips Bay Decorator Show House in New York City, his second participation in the Kips Bay Showhouse program. If you aren’t familiar, this show house transforms luxury homes into an elegant exhibition of fine furnishings, art, and technology, and benefits the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club’s after-school and enrichment programs for children all over the US.

This year’s show house is located at the historic River Mansion in the Upper West Side of New York City and will be open to the public for one month beginning Thursday, May 11th, 2023. This is home for Ahmad, and therefore this showhouse is a particularly special occurrence where his personal friends and family can take part in this experience with him. 

“It’s an honor to be invited to participate for the second time. Supporting the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Scouts Club is very rewarding and the show house brings together peers from the industry in ways that no other design event does.” -Ahmad AbouZanat

In this article, we’ll discuss details from Ahmad AbouZanat’s experience, as well as his design inspiration, and tips for aspiring interior designers who are looking to be featured in a showhouse in the future.

Inspiration and Concept of River Mansion’s Bathroom Project: “Untitled”

Ahmad AbouZanat’s design for the River Mansion bathroom, “Untitled,” was inspired by the historic setting and architecture of the house. He wanted to pay tribute to the past while looking towards the future, so he decided to use materials that represented the exterior of the house. The material changes in the space to be forward and bright, representing change and giving the space a new life, much like the house itself is gaining by hosting the show house.

AbouZanat’s design concept also focused on creating a lifestyle that fits the mansion. Bathrooms have functions that must always be there, so he didn’t reinvent the wheel regarding functionality. Instead, the critical input was creating a concept that translated into a lifestyle that fits the project.

Out With the Old, In With Maintaining History

As this is a show house that’s reviving a historic property, Ahmad AbouZanat opted not to incorporate any advanced technology in the bathroom space. Instead, he focused on creating moments of nostalgia, intrigue, and luxury defined by the material application and spacious layout of the room, among other custom details added to space.

When designing for a show house, it’s essential to have creative freedom while keeping in mind that the design should appeal to as many visitors as possible. AbouZanat approached the project with the idea of creating a timeless design that’s not following any trend, especially when it comes to hard surfaces in kitchens and bathrooms. These spaces need to be aesthetically pleasing for years to come, and refreshing them often to keep up with trends isn’t as practical as other rooms with soft furnishings.

All About the “Why”: Local Communities and Social Causes

Interior design is an impactful field that affects how we use the spaces we live and work in. Ahmad AbouZanat is grateful to the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Scout Club for bringing interior design to the forefront of its fundraising mission. He believes that highlighting the importance of design in our everyday life and opening up the eyes of designers to the wonderful opportunities to contribute to local communities and social causes is crucial.

When designing for the River Mansion bathroom, AbouZanat had sustainability in mind and chose to highlight Fireclay, a B-corp tile manufacturer based in the US. The design centered around using their product and having it be the highlight of the space. AbouZanat believes that making a design statement using Fireclay’s product is his way of paying it forward to shed light on their great mission.

Tips for Aspiring Interior Designers

For aspiring interior designers dreaming of participating in prestigious events like the Kips Bay ShowHouse, Ahmad AbouZanat advises trusting one’s instinct while designing the space assigned to them. Designing for a show house is an opportunity for designers to have creative freedom and be their own client at the same time. It’s also essential to approach the project with the idea of creating a timeless design that appeals to as many visitors as possible, as already mentioned previously.

In conclusion, Ahmad AbouZanat’s experience designing for the Kips Bay ShowHouse reflects the importance of paying tribute to the past while looking towards the future, creating a timeless design, and supporting local communities and contributing to social causes. Aspiring interior designers can learn from his tips and apply them to their projects to create impactful designs that stand the test of time.

Interested in Learning More?

This show house would have never been possible without a few notable mentions: First, the River Mansion itself, boasting with years of intriguing history to delve into. Additionally, Kips Bay Show House for organizing the event, securing the location and designers, and driving attention towards the Boy’s and Girl’s Club. Last, and certainly not least, we invite you to check out our Kips Bay page where we include our generous sponsors who partnered with PROJECT AZ to bring Ahmad’s vision into a reality. 

Don’t forget to get your tickets here for the show. We hope to see you there! 

What We Know About the Historic River Mansion: Kips Bay Design Event in NYC

Photo credits and history source information: Ephemeral New York blog

The Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club has announced plans to renovate the historic River Mansion for its 48th Annual Decorator Show House event in which our lead designer at PROJECT AZ, Ahmad, is participating. Located at 337 Riverside Drive in the Upper West Side, the River Mansion has a rich history that spans over a century. Built in 1902, the house was purchased by Julia Marlowe, a famous Shakespearean actress. Over the years, the mansion was owned by a succession of short-term owners, and during the Depression, it was converted to a rooming house that was tinged with tragic stories.

In the 1970s, the River Mansion was part of a newly created historic district and went back to being a single-family residence. Seagram heir Edgar Bronfman, Jr. bought the mansion in 1978 and turned it into his family home. Today, the River Mansion remains a personal residence and stands as a testament to the history of Riverside Drive.

The Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club is an organization that celebrates the best of interior design by transforming luxury Manhattan homes into elegant exhibitions of fine furnishings, art, and technology. The 48th Annual Decorator Show House will be held at the River Mansion from May 11th, 2023, to June 11th, 2023. The Show House is the nation’s leading design event of the year and benefits the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club.

Ahmad has been selected as one of the 22 designers for the Kips Bay event. Ahmad is known for his innovative and modern designs that blend style and functionality. He has worked on various high-profile projects and has won several awards for his work, and this is his second Kips Bay event.

Ahmad’s participation in the Kips Bay event is expected to bring a fresh and exciting perspective to the River Mansion. His designs are known for their unique blend of traditional and modern elements, which make them both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Ahmad’s vision for the River Mansion is expected to be a highlight of the event and a must-see for visitors.

In conclusion, the upcoming Kips Bay event at the River Mansion is a rare opportunity to experience the history and beauty of one of New York City’s most iconic properties. The event promises to showcase the best of interior design while also benefiting a worthy cause. With Ahmad’s participation, visitors can expect to see a unique and innovative approach to interior design that is sure to impress. 

Reserve your tickets, today!

5 Key Reasons to Hire an Interior Designer

Hudson Yards

Great interior design appears effortless. In a well-designed home, different elements come together to create a harmonious and functional space, and nothing seems out of place. Having a beautiful home brings both personal and financial value, in addition to making it a pleasant place to live.

A seemingly effortless, elevated aesthetic requires skill, knowledge, and a great eye. There are so many little details that go into a great interior design, and it can be a lot to keep track of. There are many decisions to be made, from choosing the right wall color and lighting fixtures to the finishes on the door handles; when every detail counts, this can be a lot to consider. That’s where an interior designer comes in. If you’ve been wondering whether or not to hire an interior designer, read on to discover 5 reasons why a designer can help you transform your home. 

You have a vision for how you want your space to look and feel

Getting a room to look like the magazine-worthy picture you’ve got pinned on your “Dream House” Pinterest board takes a lot of dedication and skill. If you have a specific aesthetic in mind for your space- whether it’s a dramatic toned bedroom, or a light and airy living room- an interior designer can help you execute your vision. Interior designers are experts at combining texture, color, lighting, and furniture, and will be able to help you find ways to combine different elements to achieve the results you want. 

You like being surrounded by beauty, but are on a budget

Interior design services are available for a range of budgets. – In fact, if you have a strict budget to furnish and decorate your home, interior designers are excellent at getting you the most bang for your buck. Not only will they use their industry knowledge and connections to get you deals that are typically not available to the public, but chances are, they will also help you find higher quality and more stylish pieces than you would on your own. An interior designer will also be able to help you figure out what you value the most and can break down what to save on.  For example- if you spend a lot of time in your living room and want to create a cozy space for you and your family, an interior designer might help you budget for and find the right sofa. At the same time, they can integrate soft textures like throws and pillows for comfort. An interior designer can even help advise on how to re-use your current furnishings.

Chelsea Project
The Chelsea Project incorporates the owner’s existing art and collectibles.

You want to incorporate unique or heirloom pieces

Maybe you fell in love with a giant abstract painting at a flea market- or inherited a cool, retro sofa from a relative. Sentimental and heirloom pieces can be the most eye-catching part of a design, but can be equally challenging to integrate into a room cohesively. This is the challenge most people have with making their favorite pieces work in their homes. Interior designers are excellent at incorporating unique furniture and art into spaces. In fact, they might design the entire room with the intention of really complementing and highlighting that special piece you’ve grown to love- maximizing the joy you get out of it, and leaving you with a great conversation piece when entertaining guests.

Cooper Square Project

You have no idea where to start decorating

Not everybody likes decorating or designing rooms, and that’s ok. If you have absolutely no idea where to start, hiring an interior designer might be your answer. Just as interior designers can help clients who know what they want execute their ideas, they can also guide clients who don’t by helping them figure out their goals, priorities, and budget- as well as sourcing the designs. If you’d prefer to have someone else take the reins and make your space look great, without being too involved- an interior designer can do just that. Before hiring a designer, make sure you take a look at their portfolio to get a sense of their personal style and aesthetic. 

You like people and value expert opinions

An interior designer can listen to your needs and desires, and distill information into an actionable plan for creating your dream interior. They will be able to utilize their training and experience to connect you with the best resources and vendors to execute a vision and are there to offer professional advice when you’re faced with making major decisions. They can also help you anticipate and plan for potential problems down the road such as structural, permitting, or contracting issues when implementing a design. This is extremely valuable as a time, money, and sanity-saving measure.

Ahmad AbouZanat

Hiring an interior designer is an investment that pays off in the long run. Especially now that many of us are spending more time at home than ever before, it’s even more important that you feel happy and comfortable in your own space. Interior designers can make that happen- and thanks to modern furniture, lighting systems, and home decor, seeing your house turned into a signature home is more accessible than ever before. 

Eager to turn your space into a dream home? PROJECT AZ is a residential design studio that has worked on many interior design and renovation projects in NYC, from Manhattan penthouses to Chelsea apartments. Lead Designer Ahmad AbouZanat focuses on finding unique design solutions that work well with his client’s modern lifestyles. 

Contact us today to get started on your next design project. 

Choosing Services: An Intro to Working with Interior Designers

An Intro to Working with Interior Designers

Often when people think about hiring a designer for an interiors project they only consider aesthetics: fabrics, furniture, wall colors or art. But the right designer can work with you to tailor their services to your needs, and in doing so, create the right project for your budget and your home. The result is a streamlined process and an elegant, comforting space that’s as functional as it is inspiring and beautiful.

Interior Design Service Types

To begin with, it’s important to understand the different service types. The main difference between remodel and renovation as services is that remodels usually involve making something new. This can also mean a structural or formal change to a building or space. On the other hand, a renovation usually entails restoring something to a previous state or bringing a space back to life.

When designers talk about cosmetic services, they are referring to updates that improve the appearance of a building without changing its size or structure. Think of painting a wall, or replacing carpet with hardwood floors. The walls or floors remain more or less the same in terms of size and position, but they visually look different. Other cosmetic examples include fixing minor cracks in walls, updating basic household hardware, or light fittings and window furnishings.

Interior Remodels – Partial and Full

Hudson Yards Apartment
Hudson Yards Apartment

For remodels, renovations and cosmetic changes, they can be both partial and full. That means that if you’re looking to renovate an older home, you can hire a designer to work on a specific space or spaces (partial) instead of an entire house or apartment (full). Maybe you’d only like help with a kitchen and bathroom design, or need additional feedback and input on a series of bedrooms and an entry foyer. You can work with a designer to specify the right amount of work for your project, and remember that different services have cost implications.

Interior Furnishing

Madison Square Park Tower Apartment
Madison Square Park Tower Apartment

Another important service to explain is furnishing. This is a broader category that can take on different meanings depending on the designer. For the most part, it involves selecting furniture, fittings and other decorative accessories like carpets or curtains for a room or entire house. It can include fabrics for upholstery for comfort and utility, as well as selecting art. It can encompass accessories and styling objects to give a complete and finished look for your space. If you’re interested in art specifically, there are many ways to select the right pieces for your style.

Interior Design Consulting

Consider how services can be combined for different scopes. You may want to work with a designer on a partial remodel for one specific room of a house, and only choose furnishing for another room that’s already complete. This is where it’s important to work with a designer and discuss the right option for you. These discussions are called consultations. They can be both in-person and virtual. Consultations are their own type of services, and can be a useful way to get feedback from a trained professional. They also allow you to learn more about the process and have better understanding how long projects take and how much they can cost to execute.

Whether working on a remodel, renovation, furnishing or other project type, services are part of interior planning and design. A designer works to make a client’s home feel harmonious and comforting, a reflection of their personality and character. If you haven’t done it before, the idea of hiring someone to undertake this task can be intimidating, but only if you don’t know what to expect from the process. However, working with an experienced designer is a positive and transformative experience, and the main key to your desired result is communication.

At PROJECT AZ, we provide a range of services to clients depending on their home and needs. From remodels and renovations to furnishing and consultation, we work directly with clients to bring their vision to life. If you’re looking to redesign your home and want to explore different services, please reach out to us today.


PROJECT AZ is a residential design studio dedicated to crafting modern and functional spaces. As lead designer, Ahmad AbouZanat’s approach focuses on learning about his clients’ lifestyle and applying modern solutions to create new spaces for them. The studio started in New York City in 2017, a product of passion for design and 10 years of extensive learning through a career that took place in multiple architectural and design firms around the world.

Art in Interior Design: How to Select the Right Pieces for Your Style

Madison Sq Tower - Art in Interior Design

Art brings a home’s character and personality to life. Working with colors, textures and patterns, interior designers create different moods and styles for a home. Bringing in the work of artists, they can combine multiple elements to highlight and accentuate a client’s personal taste in their daily life. At the same time, designers can show their clients how the right pieces will work together with furniture, fixtures and room decor.

While designers look for art when laying out a room or house, they may not have the opportunity to work directly with an artist or curate a client’s collection. At PROJECT AZ, art is selected that supports new talent and young brands, in addition to working with established artists. At the same time, we welcome the opportunity to curate art around the style or mood of a home. The following ideas are a few things to consider when selecting art, each an exploration into selecting the right piece for your style. The Chelsea Project incorporates the owner’s existing art and collectibles.

The Chelsea Project | Art in Interior Design
The Chelsea Project incorporates the owner’s existing art and collectibles.

Working with an Existing Palette

When selecting art and decor for a home, first look at what colors, textures and layouts already exist in a room. From the walls, floor and ceiling to the furniture and lighting in place, consider how art contrasts or complements the architectural features of a building, or the furniture that a client already has.

At the same time, new pieces of art may need to work in combination with a client’s existing collection. You can use this as an opportunity to draw inspiration from what’s existing and show how old and new elements can work together. Remember that when pieces, textures or colors are too closely aligned, they can become lost within a room or space.

When working with existing elements, it helps to take measurements and photographs to plan out where everything will go. From there you can organize floor places, furniture placement and paint colors. When interior designers choose the right art for a room, it can provide the perfect framework to plan the furnishings in that room. Madison Square Park Tower Living Room Interior, Artwork from the Departure series by Alex Katz

Mathieu Lehanneur’s 50 Seas ceramic discs | Art in Interior Design
Mathieu Lehanneur’s 50 Seas ceramic discs, NoMad Manhattan Apartment

Consider a Local Artist

Between coordinating furniture, fabrics, and colors, designers should also consider selecting work by a local artist. Not only can you start to know the story behind an artist and their work, but there’s also the possibility to commission an artist to create a bespoke piece. Designers can begin to build relationships with artists, and in turn, better help their clients select the right pieces for their home.

If you’re looking to commission a piece, consider the artist’s existing style and how that may fit into your interior design approach. There are many different ways to find inspiration, from Etsy and Pinterest to searching for independent artists on Instagram. Take some time to look and get a sense of their work. Also, remember that you can also create an entire room or interior design around one piece of art. New York City Pied-à-terre Living Room, artwork commissioned by artist Matthew Sakuta

New York City Pied-à-terre Living Room | Art in Interior Design
New York City Pied-à-terre Living Room, artwork commissioned by artist Matthew Sakuta

Understand Your Space Planning

An art collection can help tell a client’s unique perspective and story throughout their home in a really beautiful way. When creating an interior design, it’s important to have a clear understanding of space planning and how everything will be organized in a home. Take stock of how much art there will be, including the number of pieces, their size, and where they will be located. There are many different layouts to choose from depending on the space planning approach, from creating a triptych of three related works to a single, large statement piece.

Don’t be afraid to mix and match different scales or sizes of art. There are many templates that can help when figuring out how to arrange potential artwork, whether you’re simply aligning a series of edges or grouping small paintings and photographs together. 

Remember that art needs to be seen; give space to stand back and look at it. In space planning, it helps to think in groups and how a grouping of art may work throughout a home or as a gallery wall and showcase. Brass sculptures by Tom Corbin, a Lindsey Adelman chandelier and chairs by Gabriel Scott in the NoMad Manhattan Apartment

Brass sculptures by Tom Corbin | Art in Interior Design
Brass sculptures by Tom Corbin, a Lindsey Adelman chandelier and chairs by Gabriel Scott in the NoMad Manhattan Apartment

Embrace Mood and Lighting

When thinking about art and what to select, ask what activities will take place in a room or space. This usually begins to establish a mood, or how a client will feel in their home. You will often respond to existing conditions, whether it’s light or views. You may also want to create a specific feeling that the room evokes, like a sense of calm. Consider this when positioning each piece of art.

To embrace lighting and create a mood, also look to color theory. Lively, energetic or bright works of art may be more appropriate for spaces where there is more activity. Art can be both a great pop of color or a complement to the mood you’ve already created.

At PROJECT AZ, interiors are full of small discoveries rooted in a love for finding unique art and products that haven’t been mass-produced or overused. If you’re looking to redesign your home and want help selecting the right art pieces or curating an existing home collection, please reach out to us today.