The Kingston Design Connection launched in 2018 with the intent, according to founder and interior designer Maryline Damour, to bring local designers, architects, and the like together: Building Community through Design.
“I started it specifically for economic development reasons, as a mechanism for designers and makers and artists and contractors to connect,” says Damour, principal designer at Damour Drake. “The more we know each other, the more we can hire each other and support local businesses.”
Each year since 2018, the Kingston Design Showhouse has connected local designers, artists, and non-profit organizations, like the Family of Woodstock and People’s Place, to renovate a Kingston property. Home to many antique shops as well as a growing arts community, the city of Kingston serves as an ideal location for the project’s work.
However, a pandemic-prompted spike in the city’s housing market turned the direction for this year’s showhouse. According to the National Association of Realtors, the average price of Kingston homes has risen by approximately 34% in the last year, as New York City dwellers leave in droves for bigger properties in smaller cities. The rise is concerning for Kingston residents seeking affordable housing. That very concern led the Kingston Design Connection to partner this year with the Kingston City Land Bank (KCLB), a non-profit organization that renovates local abandoned properties to sell affordably.
“The land bank, to me, was continuing the community development and economic development focus of our organization,” Damour said. “It’s just kind of extending our goal.”
This year’s showhouse featured a two-story, Victorian property, over a hundred years old, in Midtown Kingston. The house at 174 Hasbrouck Avenue received extensive remodeling from the KCLB, including interior stabilization work, refinishing, replacement, and repairing of floors, windows, and interior plastering, and new electric, plumbing, and heating systems. The Kingston Design Connection brought many talented designers to the Hasbrouck property including Stacey Anderson, Haleh Atabeigi, Aude Bronson-Howard, Damour Drake, Jesika Farkas, Barbara Fisher, Jeff Keiter, Jennifer Morris, Larysa Sendich, and Audrey Sterk.
According to the collaborators, the property at Hasbrouck will sell to a first-time homeowner earning 80% or less of the neighborhood’s median income.
“Design is not a thing that’s reserved for the rich, it’s something that is available to everybody depending on their skill level and desire to do it and access to the ideas and inspiration and know-how to make their spaces their own,” Daniel Kanter, board chair of the KCLB, said.
“Showhouses tend to be very aspirational,” said Damour. “This year, as well as the first year, we chose a very middle-income house in a middle-income area in Kingston, a smaller home. The idea is always to make sure this is inclusive—by the kind of house and by the kind of neighborhood that we pick, and then also to make sure this is inclusive of the people that we accept as participants.”
The showhouse runs on weekends through October 24th. Click here to purchase tickets to see the showhouse in person, and take a peek at the spaces below:
Photography by Phil Mansfield.
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