New York City oozes a rare brand of cinematic serendipity; it’s almost like Woody Allen is orchestrating from a director’s chair above. For Jay Meredith (“Jaymere”) Stein the chance moment was when she accidentally walked into interior designer Michelle Smith’s Union Square apartment, planning to look at a different unit for sale in the building. As she stepped into the two-bedroom flat, it was love at first sight—and then she realized she recognized the apartment from Rip + Tan and One Kings Lane, as the space had been published on both. “This has been my dream apartment, and the universe kind of gave it to me,” Jaymere says.
As Michelle describes it, her future client made an offer right away. Three months or so later, the phone rang in Michelle’s office. “She was like, ‘Hi, I’m Jaymere. I bought your apartment. I should have called you from the beginning because I realized I love the apartment the way you had it.'”
The pair have quite a bit in common. For starters, they’re both from the South and the same age. “We shared a very similar aesthetic,” Jaymere adds. “She really has a great sense of old and new and vintage and modern, and she’s incredible at mixing. I saw that right off the bat. It was just a lovely place to live and be.”
Despite Jaymere’s love for the original space, this was no copy-and-paste project. Jaymere moved in with a fairly extensive collection of furnishings, including many sentimental heirlooms from her grandmother—plus she’d made a few changes in her first three months of ownership.
“It’s funny because it didn’t even smell like my apartment anymore,” Michelle says. “You walked into a green foyer with a yellow ceiling. The master bedroom was already wallpapered in that floral. The other bedroom was already a light purple.” The project became much more about making sense of Jaymere’s pieces, optimizing the furniture plan, and choosing fabrics and accessories that pulled it all together. “If you look at her finished apartment versus mine, they’re totally different,” Michelle says. “She loves color. She loves floral. She loves pattern and cool blues and true colors. Meanwhile, I like noncolor colors like white and camel,” she adds. “That apartment is a product of her, 1,000%. She just let me have fun giving her what she wanted.”
I love that it’s a place people like to come and like to be. It's all about the company that you keep inside of it. The apartment wouldn't be anything without that.
That apartment is a product of her, 1,000%. She just let me have fun giving her what she wanted.