Melanie Williams Bespoke Interiors is a London-based architecture and interior design consultancy that mainly works in local high end residential projects. One of their most recent projects took them across the pond and into a New York City [Tribeca] apartment.
Many of their signature design elements such as intricate textures, industrial materials, and subdued color palettes are featured alongside a beautiful 8-foot wide see-through fireplace by Element4. We had the opportunity to ask Melanie a few questions about her own design style, and the inspiration that informs her work.
What was one experience you had as a young professional that changed the way you looked at design?
MW: Working on my own first home in London was a great experience and it taught me a lot. Designing for my young growing family was a great lesson in designing practical spaces and designing to create impact without blowing the budget. Every project provides its own unique learning as each project we have worked on is so different with different clients with varying needs and wants. This keeps things fresh and is why I love what I do. No day is ever the same.
What are some of your main influences right now?
MW: My design style always leans towards the more minimalist, clean aesthetic — but having moved to the countryside and now working on a Hamptons weekend house, I am finding that I’m drawn to more natural, rustic influences and materials/textures etc. Some of my current inspiration/influences are nature and the changing seasons. I also admire a lot of Belgian architecture which I am currently finding inspiring — the way old and new are mixed.
Are there any details in this design that you were particularly proud of?
MW: For me the greatest achievement has been creating an apartment with a great flow of space. All of our projects focus on this first and foremost. One thing that struck me on viewing a number of Tribeca apartments was the lack of an entry hall. It felt wrong to enter the living spaces immediately. There should always be a defined arrival space that can welcome you and that can provide practical elements such as cloakroom, a place to put mail and keys and in this project’s case, a space where strollers and scooters for the young children could be put away out of sight.
We also had to maintain a large open plan space to have the real sense of being in a Tribeca Loft apartment. We used elements such as the 2 sided fireplace to zone the open plan space so that each area within felt distinct but well connected.
You can’t talk about this space without talking about the interplay of different textures. I especially like the brick and marble walls “facing-off” in the kitchen.
MW: I always think it’s a matter of balance and contrasts. Like the interplay between old and new can be very powerful, so can textures. If there’s the right balance of textures then they all enhance each other. The crisp, clean lines of the mirror glass features against the rough worn original brick and plaster work works really well and makes you appreciate these qualities even more by their juxtaposition. The marble was chosen due to its strong and dynamic veining giving drama and a luxe edge to the kitchen. The brickwork in its own way is a strong material contrasted by the surrounding by the crisp kitchen cabinetry. They frame the kitchen space well.
The palette is so subdued throughout the house it makes the pop of yellow in the nursery look so brilliant and saturated.
MW: The apartment was designed to allow an organic flow. The colors and tones were generally picked to relate to the original industrial palette of materials, dark bronze, concrete, exposed brick and in some parts we were even able to salvage the original tin ceiling. The kids room was a chance to inject some playfulness and fun and create a space that belonged to the younger residents! Yellow is a gender neutral color which was important to the client and is a bright, happy and positive color that works well with the rest of the apartments palette.
The selection of the wallpaper was also a nod to the property’s location in Manhattan as it features beautiful illustrations of Manhattan’s skyline and streetscape. The wallpaper is called ‘A Morning in Manhattan’ and is by Famille Summerbelle. We were lucky enough to get the last remaining available rolls sent to us from the UK and had just enough to complete this room.
The fireplace is a strong focal point and architectural feature for this open floor plan. How did you come to choose this specific fire?
MW: We researched a lot of products to find the right piece for the space. [At 8 feet wide] The size of this dual sided fire was of course one of its biggest appeals for us in designing a dividing wall feature. The wall had to be sized appropriately to suit the space and to provide the right amount of zone separation between living space and dining space whilst still allowing the right amount of space to flow around. The dual sided element is brilliant. It provides a focal point to both the spaces either side.
I love the surround material around the fireplace. Every detail seems so completely considered.
MW: The surround to the fireplace is plastered in a specialist plaster finish to provide a distressed concrete finish. We used a specialist plasterer flown out from London to carry out this work as we could not find an installer who could do this work in NY. The finish is not uniform or flat in its appearance and therefore provides an interesting tactile/textural finish. The side ends are detailed with dark bronze metal panels that conceal storage space for all the AV equipment to control lighting and sound throughout the apartment.
This space was Designed by Melanie Williams Bespoke Interiors in collaboration with Studio Stigby
Photography by Paul Craig (Instagram: @paullmcraig)
The Tenore 240 fireplace was installed by Westbury Fireplace and Stove in Westbury, NY