Visit an artist’s apartment in Brooklyn designed by Patrick McGrath


The moment artist Elle McGrath walked into the iconic Art Deco building in New York’s quirky suburb of Brooklyn Heights, she knew she was home. Like all worthwhile things, securing cargo was not without its challenges; “I came home upset because we had less than two weeks left before we moved out and I couldn’t find an affordable apartment in a decent place that also allowed dogs,” she recalls. She and I were roommates at the time, and after a few years we finally had to accept that we had walked out of our windowless, steeply sloping and incredibly noisy apartment, and so our respective searches began. She had just adopted Nala the AussieDoodle and traveled to Manhattan more frequently due to her work with a luxury jewelry brand, both of which figured into the research.

“Entrance was one of the biggest selling points,” she says, adding “the goal was functional storage that also looks good and just disappears,” Elle adds. They put a chest of drawers against the wall to store Nala’s essentials as well as winter stowaways. Although she considered turning into an office, she decided it was more calming to enter a space that was nothing more than what it was and encouraged relaxation.

Nicole Franzen

After visiting countless apartments, each more infuriating than the last (one had a shower located so close to the stove that you could cook dinner while you bathed), she reached out to a contact I had from a building I had visited just for fun some time ago. Complete with decorative brickwork, tiered terraces and elaborate designs, it was also a Manhattan subway station away, but seemingly a world apart, thanks to the canopy of trees and the 18th-century brownstones that line the street. Even better? It was one of the few dog friendly options in the area. A corner unit opened a month later, so after a bit of a wait and a competitive application process, the keys to the proverbial castle were finally hers. That’s when Elle’s brother, Patrick, of Patrick McGrath Design, stepped in to help turn her into a proper home.

“Patrick has helped me decorate every rental I’ve lived in since I moved to New York for school when I was 18,” Elle says. So it’s safe to say that he goes the extra mile to make her feel good. house with style. “I’m drawn to organic, nature-inspired pieces. And my priority is always function and comfort, so whatever I choose tends to be very comfortable and cozy,” she says. Speaking about his own style, Patrick adds: “Although I certainly don’t take myself very seriously as a person, I do take interiors seriously. He is drawn to clean lines and favors classic over trendy touches. So what happens when they join forces? “Patrick comes to give it a more elegant edge,” laughs Elle, and the two concoct a magical combination of casual elegance that nods to both traditional design and edgy accents.

living room
Instead of placing the television on the main wall above the sofas, Patrick fixed it on a side wall that leads to the hallway from the bedroom. This encourages meaningful connection and conversation, but still allows for movie marathons.

Beautiful house

This time around, he wanted to furnish the 850 square foot apartment in a way that would feel timeless and easy to dress and undress over time and in different environments, so he decided to source almost every item. expensive from West Elm. He then incorporated Farrow & Ball paint colors, antique accents and special items from family friend and designer Michael Bargo. Altogether, it’s a magical and comfortable blend.

One of the main advantages of the apartment is all the wall space. “I have a lot more room to display art than I used to,” Elle says. “So I wanted to take advantage of all the wall space by recycling older pieces as well as introducing new ones. Patrick saw the most opportunity for this in the spacious entryway. He turned it into a gallery because it doesn’t have windows and because there wasn’t as much floor space for furniture, so the use of walls was of utmost importance in the entrance.”

dining room

Nicole Franzen

Due to the small size of the apartment, the dining table is visible as soon as you enter. So Patrick transformed a Ruemmler lampshade into a pendant light to illuminate and separate the dining room while creating visual interest at the entrance at the end of the hallway. He had it wired so it could be on a dimmer and plugged straight into the wall because he’s a big believer in the superiority of ambient mood lighting.

living room

Nicole Franzen

trundle bed living room

Nicole Franzen

In the living room, Patrick landed on a layout that would make it look like there were “many rooms in the room.” The use of unique paint colors is also worth noting. “You can see there’s this slight molding, so we just followed those lines and then painted over the beams while the flat, horizontal surfaces were left white to show off the moldings,” says Patrick. In the living room, he chose Bathrobe from Farrow & Ball because he always wanted to try neutral purple and Elle was up for adventure. Best of all, one of the sofas is also cleverly disguised as a trundle bed, which is ideal for such a close-knit family who regularly visit each other.

kitchen
“The colors aren’t clashing at all,” he adds, and “I love Farrow & Ball because the same shade will look different in different lights, but in such a flattering way.”

Nicole Franzen

Because she loves blue and green so much, Patrick also made sure to incorporate it into the other rooms, such as the hallways and the kitchen. “We used the same color for the kitchen and hallways to create continuity,” but then went for something unique and special in the bedroom and living areas. The open plan also helps signify that they are visually and functionally separated. At the same time, the shades he chose are subtle enough to ease the eye in moments of transition.

bedroom area
Framed Polaroids enliven the walls, and a comfy chair is the perfect perch for reading and catching up on emails.

Nicole Franzen

In addition to repainting all the cabinets and adding new hardware, Patrick transformed the kitchen by adding a kitchen island that doubled the surface area. They picked one from West Elm that had a lower shelf, allowed the stools to improve the look but also gave Elle a more casual space to eat and work, and decided to put it against the setting instead of on it. float so that the gangway is clear. There was also a white marble option, but he chose something simpler and more organic. so you don’t have to fight with the fun color and artwork on the walls. “It was also important to me to bring back that organic look and I feel like ‘there’s a lot more wood in this apartment than in previous ones and everything is super functional,'” Elle shares.

bedroom

Nicole Franzen

Patrick also used green in the bedroom, and this time he chose the deeper shade of Green, Mizzle, which he says was inspired by Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment (not the fancy one, points out he, but rather that of the “first Sex & the days of the city”), and recalls Elle to the countryside. “It’s so soothing. I don’t think I’ll ever have a bedroom any other color again, even though I never would have thought of that before. Patrick suggested we use color,” tells us- she.

room details
She’s not afraid to lean into her more bohemian side, and as a visual artist, her surroundings have a direct impact on her “I need inspiration in my space.”

Beautiful house

Aside from color combinations and overall style, having the right scale is of the utmost importance, especially in small urban homes where it can be difficult to find items that aren’t too bulky and that were probably designed for a suburban home. If you want to get the proportions right, Patrick strongly suggests taking careful measurements of both the space and the element in question, then mapping it out. Draw it in an app or on a map, just use tape to block it. When you take all the guesswork out, you’re much more likely to be happy with the finished product. In the bedroom, this meant practicing restraint, as it was not as spacious as the main living room, and showcasing its most special items. West Elm staples flirt with antique collectibles, like Jackie O’s childhood side chair.

dog print sofa
A cheeky oil painting of the girls was a housewarming gift from Patrick.

Beautiful house

Though the siblings’ edgy tendencies — for example, she and Patrick agree that “leopard print is a neutral” — can easily steal the show, it’s the layers of sentimental pieces in each piece that really set her apart. space. Memories of her father and brothers, artwork from her grandparents, beloved photos of her mother, handwritten letters from friends who became family, and healing crystals are strewn like hidden treasures around every corner. These objects, although decorative, become essential in a sometimes chaotic city.



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