Manhattan apartments can be all sorts of magic, yet there are some real estate unicorns that are still hard to come by. A classic Tribeca loft with tons of outdoor space would definitely be one of them. Elusive nonetheless, it was that sort of setup that intrigued entrepreneurs Ellen and Michael Diamant. The couple, who had recently sold their wildly successful better-baby-goods company, Skip Hop, to Carters and whose child, Spencer, was heading off to college, were on the hunt for something new. It was time to find an apartment that spoke directly to how they wanted to live their lives now—something sexy yet cozy, something quintessentially New York City but at the same time transportive.
“We wanted that loft feeling—to shift our lives from little rooms to entertaining space,” explains Ellen. “We were looking and looking and looking, and we found that there were either new developments where everything had been chosen for you or these huge places where you’d have to start from scratch and knock down to the studs.”
The couple opted for the latter, buying a penthouse structure at the top of a Tribeca building that had been the Philadelphia Cream Cheese cold storage warehouse back in the 1920s. “It was a wreck,” Ellen adds. “The building had been developed in the ’90s, but the previous owners never got to fixing up the loft.”
The couple enlisted a team of dreamers and doers to design, build, and decorate their beach-house apartment in the sky. “We met Matthew Baird [of Baird Architects] and were sold on the whole feeling of old meets new: modernizing the downstairs level while embracing the history. And then upstairs the concept would be a super-contemporary indoor-outdoor. An old loft building with a modern apartment,” she concludes.
RKLA Studio Landscape Architecture dreamed up expansive and luxurious outdoor living areas, while Roger Miller Gardens composed just the right orchestration of lush plants and grasses to transform the patio into an urban paradise.
As for interior design, the Diamants worked with Joan and Jayne Michaels, the sisters behind 2Michaels. “This was our third project with them,” says Ellen. “We had collaborated on our Flatiron apartment and a small cottage we have on the water in Sag Harbor. I love that they’re funny and that they don’t want to do designs that feel like a time capsule. They love mixing old and new.”
Ellen continues: “They were so interesting to work with. Part of their whole style, their whole process, is organic. With the architecture being so structured—and there are so many rules and permits in New York City—it was fun, then, to finish off the place by putting things together and just seeing how they flowed.” So much fun that the couple had opted to furnish their new home entirely from scratch. Says Joan, “They didn’t keep one thing from their old apartment.” Jayne chimes in. “Yes, one thing: a Knoll console.”