The visuals come fast in Elizabeth Sutton’s polished Upper East Side foyer: the big blue eyes of a toddler waddling along a bamboo floor; a Havanese Maltese trotting by a stroller; and finally the space itself, dominated by Sutton’s large, meticulously designed artworks decorated with glitter stripes and colorful geometric patterns.
Hung on clay-colored Italian marble walls textured with metal inlay, the setting is the perfect muted background for pieces so bright they almost seem alive.
previous owners. The kitchen, which includes a red-striped table for six, as well as Sutton’s large painting of three pop-iconic glittery lips, has Miele appliances and Caesarstone counters.
The oversized doors throughout the apartment have double-paned glass that sandwiches a dark and shimmery Chinese silk fabric (from Galaxy Glass & Stone), and the large living room, filled with light from floor-to-ceiling windows, has a Tasmanian oak floor. The $4.25 million apartment was so barely lived in when the Suttons first bought it that the directions to the oven were still inside of it.
It was, in fact, the 1,600-square-foot terrace that sealed the deal.
“It’s why I bought the apartment — and it’s where I do a lot of entertaining,” says Sutton, for whom a 10-person weeknight dinner is not unusual.
She had the bare, cement slabs landscaped by Kokobo Greenscapes, which added redwood features and lots of planters with seasonal plantings. The aluminum-base furnishings by Dedon are decorated with Janus et Cie-covered puffy cushions. The modular seating area has a fire pit and faces a retractable 42-inch television. Nearby is the outdoor kitchen with a Weber grill and a large table with chairs, plus a smoker tucked around a bend.
“It’s football-season friendly,” Sutton says. “I BBQ [and use the smoker] through the winter.”
The whole apartment, which Sutton decorated, is designed to be lived in, not just looked at. In the living room — furnished with a beige Nathan Anthony couch, “Log” gilded coffee tables from Phillips Collection and a vellum-fronted oak cabinet by Julian Chichester — a pint-sized shopping cart filled with plastic blocks sits ominously in a corner. Sutton says her 21-month-old son, Miro, has banged it around the room many times.
“I never should have bought it,” she says with a smile and a shrug. The laissez-faire attitude will serve Sutton well in the months ahead — she’s pregnant with a girl due in January.
Sutton further warms up the home in the sky — her building in the East 70s is a 31-floor tower of glass and metal panels — with whimsical touches of texture and bold patterns. These include a woven fabric from Romo Inc. on a studded guest room daybed, a black-and-white houndstooth rug in the master bedroom and gray snakeskin vinyl on the kitchen’s Patagonia Homebanquettes.
Hard to believe it was a rush job.
“I chose all my furniture and fabrics in 48 hours,” Sutton says. “I’m super decisive. I need the peace of mind of things being done.”
A Modern Orthodox Jew raised in Brooklyn, Sutton earned a bachelor’s of business administration from Baruch College’s Zicklin School, marrying Morris just before she graduated at 21.
“My husband was traveling for work and I wanted to travel with him,” she says, leaving little time to find a job.
Three years later, when she was pregnant with Miro, Sutton bought supplies at Blick Art Materials and “started exploring different techniques and mediums.” She was always interested in crafts.
“I’m completely self-taught,” says Sutton, who adds that she wanted her art to reflect her personality: “vibrant, stylish, a little in your face.” Plus, she wanted “to create things that are very orderly and balanced. Balance is very important to me.”
Her first large piece, the glitter-striped work in the foyer, was followed by the paintings for Miro’s nursery. “There are a lot of geometric patterns happening in his room, but I tried to bring it all together,” Sutton says. She did so by adding yet more pattern: Three boldly colored geometric acrylics that play off the black-velvet striped wallcovering from Phillip Jeffries.
“I’d been thinking of going into private catering or event planning,” Sutton says. “But when I put those acrylics on Instagram, someone reached out to me to ask if could paint her something.”
She could. And she proceeded to fill the other requests that poured in, fueled mostly, she says, by social media. But what really helped, she says, was a call last winter from “Million Dollar Listing New York” broker Ryan Serhant, who wanted art for all four units of a high-end development in Tribeca.
“I was on my way to Costa Rica with my family on vacation and I was like, ‘How am I going to get this done?’ ” she says. “But I’m of the mindset that you just figure it out.”
Sutton put an ad on Craigslist and found an assistant to work with her upon her return. “I told him, ‘We just need to paint — focus and paint.’ ”
The project ended up on the TV show “and it was very good for me and my brand,” says Sutton, who’s part of the NYDesigns incubator program, which helps design and tech start-ups. She was also featured at the 2016 Hamptons Designer Showhouse and city’s annual Affordable Art Fair. Her work can also be found at Beautique, a restaurant in Midtown, and, in the near future, at Provocateur, a club in the Meatpacking District.
Her butterflies — punch cuts that she hand-glitters, favored by women decorating their kids’ rooms — are Sutton’s “signature pieces,” she says. Her new work, pop-art portraits like one in the foyer featuring Marilyn Monroe, are created by using a digital image projected onto wood.
In the near(ish) future, Sutton would like to diversify and design a line of home accessories.
“I’m very career-oriented right now,” she says. “As much as it breaks my heart to leave my son every day [to work in her Long Island City studio], I hope it instills a work ethic in my son and daughter.”
And she loves what she does. “I call my art ‘happy art,’ ” she says. “And I want to be surrounded by happiness in my home.”