Bridal designer Jude Elardo and husband Larry Manogue, Director of Sales for a major broadcasting network, weren’t looking to fall in love when they stumbled upon an open house in a high-rise building down the street from where they lived. But the views it offered—from the George Washington Bridge, down the Upper West Side to the Empire State Building and One World Trade Center—made a compelling argument. They had just remodeled the bathroom of a three-story townhome they owned and they weren’t looking to buy a house, but they just couldn’t resist.
“We made an offer for less than the asking price. The realtor said they’d never accept the offer—it was, after all, in a high-rise with unobstructed views and a doorman—but they did,” says Larry. “It is located in West New York, a part of New Jersey that is underrated. People may know Jersey City and Hoboken, but not a lot of people know where West New York is, and they are surprised by our views and close proximity to NYC.”
The condominium in itself was in a sorry state of pink walls and nondescript interiors, and they were intent on doing a complete remodel. They had a mere 11 weeks to work with, from the time they closed on their new high-rise purchase until the time they had to move out of their old home. With the narrow timeline, Jude and Larry made sure that they had all the supplies the contractor needed (such as tiles, lighting fixtures, faucets, and the like), so there was no delay when they completed work in one room and moved on to the next.
Being in a high-rise building with a co-op, there were a lot of restrictions too. Jude shares, “There were load-bearing walls we couldn’t remove, and plumbing and gas lines that had to stay where they were. So we incorporated those things into part of our design aesthetic.” They also had to replace the original floor with new hardwood floors throughout the apartment. Both bathrooms and the kitchen had to be gutted and customized to their tastes.
In the end, it was all worth it. Situated on the 11th floor, you enter into a space of over 500 square feet that opens up to the living room, kitchen and dining area. There is a terrace overlooking NYC and the Hudson River right off the main living-dining space. The sun-flooded living area frames the Manhattan skyline perfectly. Off the great room is a spare bedroom, where they changed the entrance to pocket doors so it can be used for additional entertaining space when needed. Down the hall are the guest bathroom, guest bedroom and master bedroom with an en suite bathroom.
Framed with crown molding, the walls were set in tabula rasa of white and ivory.
“I would never choose to live in a house that is mostly white, but that was Jude’s vision,” Larry laughs. “He is the designer, and it turned out beautifully.”
Color crescendos as the seasons change, and Jude meant for the decor to reflect the romance of the evolving city. He adds pastel accent pillows and fresh blooms for spring, and for the past summer, he has incorporated a lot of blues and nautical stripes in the decor. The furniture, mostly from Restoration Hardware, is traditional, mixing in elements of different eras—Victoria, Neo-classical and Contemporary. A fun piece that subtly pushes the envelope is a sculpture of Larry hanging in the bedroom. “In 1993, I commissioned Brooklyn-based artist Avi Zuckerman to create a sculpture of myself from the waist up,” Larry shares. “I had to be covered by the plaster for over 45 minutes, breathing through a straw.”
When asked about the style of their home, Jude quips, “Rustic Luxe, but not in an obvious or too literal sense.” Mongolian lamb furs, linen and cotton fabrics are mixed in with brass and metallic accents. He conceived the plaid and striped tablecloth, and the living room’s other upholstered pieces to mix and match. It’s Country Charm meets City Chic.
Although busy with their respective careers (Jude with his burgeoning bridal line and Larry with his corporate job), the couple loves to entertain whenever they can. They throw annual parties during the summer, Christmas and Thanksgiving, Jude’s favorite holiday. They configured the layout to have an open and sociable floor plan, where the kitchen is the heart of the home.
Jude’s gowns take weeks to create, and so he loves the instant gratification he gets from cooking for his friends and family. Crowd favorites are his pies and more recently, he’s discovered that edible centerpieces are a fun way to get the conversation started.
Some people choose to splurge on name-droppable artwork and furniture—Jude, the consummate host, prefers to invest in fine china, flatware and silverware from Tiffany’s. His Le Creuset collection would make Ina Garten proud. “I’m obsessed with the butler’s pantry—it functions as storage, but I can also display my vintage china and milk glass collection,” Jude shares.
Larry, on the other hand, steers clear of the kitchen and prefers to entertain guests through music. “I love EDM—dance music—or the remixed versions of pop tunes. Kristine W is always featured on my playlist,” he shares. Coupled with a well-stocked open bar, and an easygoing and unpretentious way about entertaining, their guests can spend hours enjoying the view while sipping their drinks and chit-chatting.
From the vantage point of their sparkling home overlooking the big city, it’s tempting to arrive to the conclusion that this is the home they will spend the rest of their lives in. Larry reveals, “I’d like to stay close to NYC, and rent a home or apartment in different places around the world every year. Maybe we’d buy a guest house or bed and breakfast somewhere and Jude can run it.” Maybe not.