Melanie Moore, Founder of Elizabeth & Clarke and her husband, Juan Pablo Buriticá, moved into their two-bedroom apartment in the Financial District after eyeing the building for months. “My husband and I have lived downtown for years,” she shares. “We watched as our apartment building went up and visited a few times throughout construction. What sold us was the views. You cannot get these floor-to-ceiling views in a rental downtown. We’ve looked!” When a corner two-bedroom became available, they immediately signed the lease.
When Melanie and Juan moved in, the apartment was a plain white box, which the pair found both freeing and daunting. They would soon reach out to designer Emma Beryl to help transform it into a moody oasis, inspired by the couple’s art collection. In fact, one of Melanie’s first pieces was the jumping-off point for the entire design. “I bought my first piece of ‘real’ art, the work in my entrance gallery, by accident,” she recalls. “I was visiting my mom for Thanksgiving, who lives in a town in Alabama that is so small, it has one stoplight, which does not work. On Friday nights, the only thing to do is head over to the auction, called the Possum Trot, to hunt for vintage finds from old estate sales. Connected to the Possum Trot is a small art gallery, filled with what Alabamians would kindly describe as interesting art. Basically, a lot of skulls. I loved it. I didn’t know the artist, but he was a friend of my mother and let the piece go for $95 (including shipping)!” The artist, of course, was Butch Anthony — long before he was picked up by galleries in London and across the American South, and fawned over in The New York Times.
Emma immediately recognized that this “white box” apartment needed to reflect the aesthetic of the creative couple. “The apartment has the most incredible views and oversized windows, beautiful oak flooring, and gorgeous finishes in the kitchen and bathrooms but it had absolutely no character or personality,” she laughs. “It was really the perfect clean slate for what we were trying to achieve because our priority was to take the space and totally personalize it to let Melanie and Juan’s personalities shine.”
When you first enter the apartment, you step into a foyer area — home of the famous Butch Anthony piece. “We knew we wanted to make an impact from the second you walked into the space and so added dramatic wall moldings and dark gray paint color onto the entry walls along with two oversized pieces of statement art, a tufted velvet bench, an oversized mirror, and a sleek linear wall sconce,” the designer states. “The art in this space especially sets the tone for the rest of the apartment.”
Once you step into the main space, the kitchen, dining room, and living room are all open with the incredible wrap-around views of New York City. “We added a custom kitchen island into the space to make it more functional and added a chandelier over the dining area to ground that space and create a separate dining zone,” Emma says. “On the walls we carried in the dark gray paint and molding from the entry.” Here, they also added a clever element — the faux fireplace serves as a focal point while also hiding all of the TV wires and cables.
The first bedroom serves as the Elizabeth & Clarke offices and creative space and is a stark departure from the rest of the apartment in that it had to be light, and bright, and above all functional. In the primary bedroom, which has been jokingly nicknamed “The Library of Death” because of the Young and Battaglia black bookshelf wallpaper and quirky portraits, the design really pushes the boundaries. “It takes our theme and runs with it in a bold way that not everyone would be brave enough to do,” Emma says. “Working with another creative person is always so much fun for me because I find they’re more willing to take chances and run with a vision. Melanie especially was full of incredible ideas when it came to making the space her own.”
For Melanie, working with a designer ensured her vision would be properly translated in the space. “As any creative will tell you, it’s so much harder designing for yourself. When the only constraint is your imagination (and budget) it can be hard to focus,” she shares. “Emma helped Juan and I meld our tastes into one, create a functional layout, and also come up with creative solutions that work for a rental.”
Take a tour in the slideshow.