Lessons In Self Love

This Romantic Downtown Loft Is the Perfect Blend of Minimalist and Maximalist

Elizabeth Baudouin and Natalie Shirinian make the perfect couple.

By: Laurel Pantin
Photography: Alec Kugler

We’ve met a lot of creative power couples in our day, but even amongst that excellent company, Elizabeth Baudouin and Natalie Shirinian stand out. Between the two of them, they’re a filmmaker, author, and they run NES Creative, a creative services agency for top talent in art, design, and culture (you might recognize their client—and all the lighting in their apartment—from this feature with Apparatus), and that creativity shows in their Tribeca loft.

With dark, moody walls, rose-print wallpaper, brass and marble accents, and an insanely cute Japanese Chin named Toni Deville (her Instagram is @thedevillewearsprada), the space is capital-R Romantic. It’s also incredibly comfortable and warm—much like its inhabitants.

After munching on popcorn and pastries and spending a lot of time taking snaps of Toni (BTW, Japanese Chins were bred to live in a kimono sleeve, and if that doesn’t make you believe in miracles, we don’t know what will), we were ready to start planning BFF tattoos with the couple.

Click through to read all about how they met, how they blend their design sensibilities, and how they plan on spending Valentine’s Day.

“The coffee table is from Calliope in the West Village. They don’t do any e-marketing or e-commerce at all. You physically have to go in there. That is a vintage Noguchi. That is a piece from them. They are really special about having those key items.” —EB

“We met kinda by accident. We were at a party once together but I don’t think we really talked all that much. I knew about Natalie a little bit but we met because [of] our friend who is an editor for a magazine out in L.A. and Natalie was writing for them and so was I. We had a coffee date that just overlapped. The thing was Natalie was in a relationship for a long time when I met her. I was coming out of something too, so it was kinda off-limits. But when she sat down I was like, ‘I can’t... Who is this?! What’s happening?!’ At the end of it I followed my friend into a thrift store, and I was like, ‘Don’t put me in the room with that woman again, it’s mean, it’s rude. I can’t handle it! It’s just torture.’ [laughs] And two months later, I was reading in bed on a Sunday night and my friend texts me like, ‘Natalie and her girlfriend broke up she wants to hang out like a group thing.’ I was like ‘Make it happen let’s do this.’ It never happens. A month later I get an email from Natalie that is like, ‘Hey this is Natalie do you want to hang out? My number is below.’ I was like, ‘My number is below?! I died.’ [laughs] I just texted her and we started texting and we met for coffee and that was that.” —EB

On moving from L.A. to New York:

“A lot of our clients are out here, a lot of editors are out here, and we really wanted a space to move into that can also showcase a lot of our clients’ work. We were specifically looking for a loft and I felt like Laurel Canyon was a little slow and L.A. was a little bit slow. We are out here so often we were like, why don't we just go out to the East Coast and make this happen! We got lucky with this space because we throw these art shows and we can really showcase our clients’ work in it.” —NS

“There is a Joan of Arc print painting that a friend of mine found for me in L.A. from her travels and she was like, ‘Since you share the same birthday as her, January 6th, I found this for you,’ it’s really old and kinda burnt and torn up. She has a great vintage and antique store in L.A. and so she gifted that to me. That goes everywhere! I really, really, really love it. The painting next to it is by a photographer, Martyn Thompson, who is also great. He does textiles so he has wall coverings and wallpaper and all that. He gifted that to us as well. Those are really special.” —NS

“I think that is a vintage Barcelona chair. That is in that corner. It just doesn’t have the seats on it. I really like the raw aspect of it without any cushions or anything, just the straps of it, it just added something. So that’s there.” —NS

“I was in the music industry and doing similar things but for big brands in music. Six months in, Natalie was like, ‘I have a client that could really use your services—want to take one on together?’ And we did. What basically happened was, I kept leaving my agency that I was at to go hang out with her and she was like, ‘You just need to join because that’s what it’s going to be.’ That’s one thing. Natalie is also a filmmaker and I’m also a writer. Our film comes out next month and I have a book coming out next year. Those are our separate things.” —EB

“[This space is] all her and me being like, ‘I love it!’ ‘I don’t love it!’ ‘I love it!’ This is her whole everything. I think it’s a nice blend of both our personalities.” —EB

“This is a table from my mom and dad from the ’70s. We also have another coffee table, and a couple of chairs coming from them, as well, that they’ve just kept in storage and I’m like, ‘Why is this in storage?!’ It’s nice to have some family pieces around.” —NS

“The loft is a bit of a European travel mix with vintage, contemporary. We’re also trying to make it feel warm. I don’t really know how else to explain it other than mood.” —NS

“I founded Nes Creative about five to six years ago with a couple of interior designers that had a fashion background. Elizabeth joined the agency about a year and a half ago.” —NS

“Apparatus did all of the lighting. The rest [is] a mix of going to different antique shops, doing some custom stuff and then clients’ work. It’s a mix of all three.” —NS

“Toni is five years old. My ex-girlfriend and I had Toni. We all are very good friends, so Toni has three moms.” —NS

“She is bi-coastal. She lives in Hidden Hills next to Kanye in her valley life.” —ES

“She has a nice fun life. She is a Japanese Chin. She has an underbite. Marc Jacobs met her once and pet her once in L.A.” —NS

“She is blessed by Marc Jacobs and Kanye.” —EB

Yolande Milan Batteau did this—she is from Callidus Guild, they’re based out in Brooklyn. They do all the wall coverings for, like, Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton. And she, for our show that we had here with her, did this thing called yakasuki which is all about transforming materials through fire. So what she did, she didn’t set this on fire, she took some crazy ink and did her own interpretation of what that would look like and she installed it and we were like, ‘You are going to leave that here forever, right?’ Because we were just obsessed!” —EB

“Natalie will put some stuff out and is like, ‘Do you like this? How is it doing? Is it too much?’ After three years of being together you just know the person and know, ‘Oh this is going to be too much.’” —EB

“I’m co-directing a film called Interior Motives so it has fashion designers that have crossed over into the interiors world. It has Tommy Hilfiger, Apparatus Studios, and a bunch of great key players. Maria Cornejo is in it too. Ryan Korban. That’s a side project that I’m working on!” —NS

“It’s five years in the making though! And it’s coming out next month! That’s a big deal!” —EB

“I don’t think black walls close the space in. I feel like it actually opens up. There’s a mix of wallpaper, black, and white walls, so like, it’s not so jarring, it kinda all blends in together. For me black has never been an issue of a space being too small or constricting. I always felt it opened it up, especially if there are other elements mixed into it or other colors that are more neutral in palette.” —NS

“It’s funny because even for date night we find ourselves going Uptown because we are down here all the time. We’ll go Uptown a lot. We’ll have a cute moment at the Carlyle bar or something and we’ll be cute there.” —EB

“For Valentine’s Day we are definitely staying in, cooking dinner, and having a really sweet moment.” —NS

“It’s always dinner, walk to the Angelika and see a film. That is our typical. And during the day we like to do date days. So we’ll take a whole day and go to, like, three museums and just absorb it.” —EB

“In this apartment, you can feel the subway going through. My great-great-grandfather came over from Italy in, like, the 1980s, he helped build that subway! And now we live on top of it. Especially with everything that is going on in the world right now, we are like, it’s such a beautiful example of progress. I have attachments to it for family reasons but we can also walk to the water. It’s so quiet on the weekends in this neighborhood.” —EB

“I love the MET museum. Hands down. The Frick Collection I love, too. I love going to the Armory, The Park Ave Armory. There is so much that they do and it’s always rotating. I love going to see what they always have for a show.” —NS

“I think what is really cool is when we first met I had, like, five pieces in my apartment. I was like minimalist to the max. Natalie designs for the space, so it was very in Chateau Rossmore in L.A., which is like this old kinda French Normandy building. She found a nice balance so we are really happy because if it’s too much I get a little like, oh no, there is a lot of stuff happening here!” —EB

“I think when we first moved in I was trying to figure out how to make a loft feel somewhat warm and homey at the same time. I remember a friend of ours walked in and was like, ‘It has a very monastic feel.’ So when she walked into our bedroom, I was like, that is actually very true! So I like the mix of weird religious imagery mixed in with some contemporary pieces! Vintage pieces.” —NS

“Yolande also did the wall in the entryway when you walk in, it’s all this crazy sacred geometry. Then she put both our zodiac signs in it, and then linked them with some gold dust. So obviously we can never move.” —NS

“She is really special and she really takes into account who she is designing for. We didn’t even ask her to do anything special like that. We were like, ‘Do your sacred geometry whatever!’ And she was like, ‘Oh, by the way, your star signs are in there and they’re linked and you’ll be forever together!’” —EB

“And it needs more gold dust so when we brush it in so it’ll really pop…”—NS

“Natalie was on set and I was texting her like, ‘Yolande is literally on a ladder right now, with a package of gold dust brushing it into our wall.’ She was like ‘Stop!’ It was so funny; I was like, ‘What is going on!’ We’re pretty lucky.” —EB

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