How a Young Interior Designer Made Over His First Solo Apartment

The terrace of Patrick Mele’s one-bedroom Upper East Side apartment. Photo: Annie Schlechter

“This is the first place that I have lived on my own,” Patrick Mele, 31, says of his one-bedroom apartment in the East 60s, where he moved in 2013 after years of roommates. Mele spent his childhood longing to end up in this elegant neighborhood; he’d make trips with his family to the Upper East Side from Greenwich, Connecticut, where they lived in what he describes as a “kooky farmhouse that was like a big chicken coop.” As a young boy, he took it upon himself to rearrange all of his parents’ furniture — apparently to their delight. “I even convinced them to paint our dining room fire-engine red.”

When he was 14, he started doing window design for local shops, and after graduating from NYU, worked with Kate and Andy Spade, Ralph Lauren, and Richard Lambertson before starting his own firm in 2012. In between projects (he plans to open a store in the next two years), there was his own apartment to attend to. Initially, he was overwhelmed by the options. “I couldn’t quite zone in on what I wanted my own home to say about me,” he says. In the end, his trial-and-error approach (“I tried kilims, Noguchi tables, big swags on the windows, nothing on the windows”) led to a space that is “idiosyncratic and irreverent — a purist I am not.”

He opted to make the small room off the living room his office, while the larger room is a flexible open space that converts to a bedroom once the daybed is turned down. The apartment’s ink-colored walls accented with crisp white moldings are intercepted by bursts of color from his collection of design books, bird-themed art, and small pieces of furniture; the original floors have been painted a high-gloss milk white. Usually renters don’t take such liberties, but Mele doesn’t plan on leaving anytime soon. And he’s not done tinkering: “I’m restless when it comes to my surroundings,” he says. “They’re always in motion.”

*This article appears in the May 18, 2015 issue of New York Magazine.

How a Young Designer Made Over His First Home