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A local designer at Kips Bay showhouse

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When an e-mail from famous New York interior designer Bunny Williams showed up in her inbox March 27, Raji Radhakrishnan knew the news was good. The designer, based in the Brambleton neighborhood of Loudoun County, had been selected to participate in New York’s 2012 Kips Bay Decorator Show House, akin in the design world to winning an Oscar.

“I almost fell off my chair,” says Radhakrishnan. (It was a vintage art deco desk chair, by the way.) She had submitted her portfolio to the Kips Bay committee for several years but had never been chosen. “For a designer, I don’t think it can get better than this.”

Williams, who is this year’s show house chair, invited Radhakrishnan to walk through the show house venue: two huge luxury duplexes at the Aldyn, a contemporary high-rise building on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. They are on the market for $16.9 million and $15.9 million each. Radhakrishnan was one of 32 designers who had five weeks to come up with design schemes for the spaces, which opened to the public for a month-long gig May 16.

“The great thing about Kips Bay is that they let you run with your imagination. You can turn a bedroom into a meditation room or a lounge,” says Radhakrishnan, who started her business in 2005 and opened a New York office this spring. Her concept: a home office for the chief curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Because nearly all the rooms were white boxes with big glass windows, she says she knew she had to make hers special and sophisticated without going against the architecture. She had pearl white Venetian plaster applied to the walls and ceiling. “It enveloped the space and gave the room a beautiful glow, and still was clean and modern,” she says.

It was a fitting backdrop for 20th-century vintage pieces, including a 1960 bar cabinet and Arts and Crafts rug, plus furniture from contemporary designers. She installed a white marble mantel for “architectural heft” and hung two large photo murals. The curator’s desk, made of wood and leather, is from Ralph Lauren Home.

“A curator would have only beautiful, comfortable and practical things in their home,” Radhakrishnan says. “That’s what guided me.”

The 40th annual Kips Bay Decorator Show House, at 60 Riverside Blvd., New York, is open daily through June 14. Admission is $30. The money raised benefits the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club after-school and enrichment programs for New York City children. For more information, go to www.kipsbaydecoratorshowhouse.org or call 212-755-5733.

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