Uncategorized – PROJECTAZ

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! 

Looking Forward, Reflecting Back

Glenstone Pavilions in Potomac

Reflecting on 2021, I was surprised by how much I adventured close to home despite the lifting travel restrictions. Nevertheless, I am delighted looking back at the time I spent traveling regionally around New York City. After months of lockdowns and constraints, these quick trips and uncomplicated itineraries reignited my appreciation for well-designed, well-thought-out spaces and experiences. Dive in below where I share memorable experiences from the last year! 

New York City: Sistina

Sistina is a well-known, well-loved Italian restaurant set in a townhouse on the Upper East Side. The ambiance is very cozy and unassuming. It’s achieved with gorgeous sconces and strategically placed lighting fixtures that add warmth to the space: greenery and an extensive artwork collection balance out the location. There’s a “sunroom” space that allows the natural light to flood into the building. It’s impressive! The food, alongside the overall experience, made what would have been a great dining experience excellent. 


Washington DC: Albi

The restaurant Albi is on the opposite design spectrum from Sistina. Alibi embraces a more modern interior. A mix of steel, wood, and patterned/textured fabric is used throughout. In fact, the bench seats had a blue color version of the same red patterned fabric I used three years ago in my Chelsea project – bonus points for coordinating design styles. The saying, the eyes eat first is deeply rooted in the Middle Eastern culture, and Albi takes that very seriously. The presentation was phenomenal and unconventional, And the food, of course, was incredible. 

Washington DC: Glenstone

Glenstone Museum. I’ve been there several times. It’s one of the places I make sure I go to every time I visit DC. The museum is in Maryland, and it’s an architectural wonder. The museum building is set brilliantly within the landscape. It has a walking trail that goes around the property, allowing discovering large-scale installations, including one of my favorites,  FOREST (for a thousand years…). The interior architecture of the museum is equally unusual. The spaces are thoughtfully designed down to the tiniest detail to be both minimalist and highly functional, thus allowing the artworks to shine. It’s worth noting that everything about the newly added building extension is composed in a very cohesive way. From the interior spaces down to the branding fonts used in the staff uniform and signage, it’s all a deliberate expression of the philosophy of architecture. 

Upstate New York: Manitoga

Manitoga, the house of Russel Wright, was another wonderful experience. Russel Wright was a mid-century industrial designer who wanted to create a home that was an escape from New York City. Established within nature, it features a short hiking trail that leads visitors into the home. The intention is so they discover the land, water features and experience the house’s integration within the landscape. It is a one-of-a-kind experience. Every detail in the place was designed with functionality in mind and tailored to Russel Wright and his family. It was all built to be very specific for them. One of the concepts I truly loved is how the family changed the house’s color scheme twice a year to announce spring/summer and fall/winter. Details like flipping the kitchen cabinet fronts to have a different color facing out, changing the drapes, among a few others, were all implemented. 


Upstate New York: Dia Foundation

Dia:Beacon, this was my first visit, and although I’ve seen artwork before on different occasions by the same artists in other spaces. Upon arrival, I was floored by the scale of the pieces and how incredible each gallery was configured. The Dia Foundation is housed in a transformed historic printing facility that then grew. Another notable feature of Dia is that it contains artwork rarely seen outside of their collection. 

Dia Foundation

Upstate New York: Huttons Brickyard

Huttons Brickyard Hotel, I love this place and highly recommend it. The lot where the hotel sits was a brickyard where many of the buildings in downtown Manhattan got their bricks from. It is now designed with modern and minimalist cabins and gorgeous landscaping. It sits at the west bank of the Hudson River, making for a fantastic sunrise with its uninterrupted waterfront vistas. There are remaining architectural features from the days it was a brickyard. It’s very industrial but well preserved to keep the character of the space alive. 

TV: Dickinson

Escape at Home. When travel was not possible, I explored different perspectives and places through well-produced television. I became obsessed with Dickinson and of all the rich period visuals that come with that. I had a fundamental and general knowledge of Emily Dickinson, but this show made me learn more about her and her passion for writing. I believe the show did a great job with the costumes, interiors, set design and paid close attention to details when recreating scenes from the 1800s. The cast couldn’t be any better. Highly recommend it. 

Ready to transform your space in 2022? PROJECT AZ is a residential design studio that has completed a variety of interior design and renovation projects in NYC. Lead Designer Ahmad AbouZanat’s 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.

Refresh Your Home’s Interior Without Starting from Scratch

warm home's interior

Creating a warm, inviting interior doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch. In fact, sometimes the best designs are brought to life by revamping spaces with existing furniture and decor. This doesn’t have to be an intimidating or expensive process either- there are many simple, easy changes you can make to update your home’s interior design without breaking the bank. And the benefits can be felt immediately; improving the home decor of a room will bring a fresh perspective to your everyday life, like you’re living in a brand new space. If you want to refresh your space, we urge you to read on.

Additionally, be sure to check out the recent story that talks about how PROJECT AZ founder Ahmad AbouZanat applied these concepts in his recent move across Manhattan.

#1 Gather Your Design Inspo

home's interior design
East River by PROJECT AZ

Whether you prefer curating a neat, digital mood board via pinterest, or want to go the old school way of cutting & collaging images out of magazines, the first step of a room redesign should be to gather inspiration. This will give you a visual reference to help you make key decisions along the way, and can help guide you in creating a space you love. 

#2 Declutter and Take Stock

living room with a piano
East River by PROJECT AZ

Out with the old, in with the new! Before you start changing and introducing new decor elements into a room, it pays to take a minute to declutter first. You need to make space for the things that will bring you joy. Organizing and decluttering lets you take stock of the furniture and decor you already own that could be reused. It will also reveal whether you need to take into account any practical considerations, like storage.

This idea also extends to sustainability, where you can give a second life to existing pieces without throwing them away. Say goodbye to “fast” furniture—cheaply made, self-assembled furniture that you’re forced to throw away after a single use. By taking stock of what you have existing and what’s working, you can help cut down on the 9.8 million tons of furniture that ends up in a landfill each year.

#3 Update Colors and Accents Pieces

Is a current design trend catching your eye? Or are you determined to incorporate your favorite color throughout your room? Whether you think your room is lacking a pattern or print, or you just need more blue in your life- incorporating new colors into your space can work wonders to transform it. For inspiration, check out some interior design websites and catalogs for current color trends. Or simply go with what you love. Then start by replacing smaller, more inexpensive items, like pillows, throws, area rugs, plant pots, etc. to reflect your chosen palette. 

If you aren’t feeling particularly creative and would rather get the involvement of a professional, consider hiring an interior designer for a limited scope of work. They will be able to advise you on how to incorporate your existing furniture & pieces in a way that results in a more lasting, timeless interior, rather than something that’s quickly outdated. You can schedule a consultation service to learn more.

#4 Add Visual Interest with Textures and Art

art walls
East River by PROJECT AZ

There are many ways to add visual interest to a space, but one of our favorite ways to add a personal touch to a space is to create a fun, cozy nook for the owner. Start by finding a wall or small corner that you can transform to make your own and add a comfortable seat, pillows, a plant, or art that you love. Consider how you can layer textures in a space to create depth and diversity. This may include patterns that are unexpected, or used in very select ways.

You can also add an oversized element or artwork to reimagine the feeling and experience of a space. It’s best to do this with one or two individual elements so that it doesn’t make a room feel overwhelming. If you’re an avid art collector, consider creating a gallery wall with a curated set of your favorite pieces that complements the color palate you are incorporating.  

There’s no need to face the prospect of decorating a blank room when you can utilize your existing furniture and decor to enhance the atmosphere of your home. A space that is well decorated, personalized, and beautiful is one that you will be happy to spend time in. With so many people spending increasing amounts of time at home, it’s more important now than ever to create a space that feels like home.

If you’re curious about redesigning your home, but don’t want to take on the whole project yourself, consider hiring a designer like PROJECT AZ’s Ahmad AbouZanat. Ahmad runs a new york based residential design studio and has delivered fresh design takes on a range of projects- from manhattan lofts to cozy chelsea townhomes. Check out some of his work here and if you want professional, high quality design services, reach out today.