A residential concept for retail space may not seem like a new idea today as mega-brands settle into domiciles worldwide. But when AD100 inductee Rayman Boozer first opened his beloved Manhattan boutique, Apartment 48, in 1994, his approach was groundbreaking. Tucked on the garden level of a town house at 48 West 17th Street, the shop unfolded in a warren of rooms, with every corner (kitchen, bath, bed) outfitted as if inhabited. For Boozer, who had studied interior design at Indiana University before moving to New York to work for the likes of Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s, Apartment 48 was more than a chance to push products. It was a chance to push his point of view. “I was trying to find a way to express all my ideas at once,” he reflects. “My biggest desire was to be understood.”
Among those who immediately got the concept, as well as the man, was Maureen Sullivan, then just a 20-something living with roommates. “Apartment 48 was so ahead of its time,” says Sullivan, a consumer-tech executive. “There was nothing precious or intimidating; it just felt warm and inviting and full of inspiration.” Her regular visits to the store gave way to a lasting friendship after she tapped Boozer to decorate her and her husband’s one-bedroom. Over the years, their lives have evolved in step—Sullivan having three children, Boozer pivoting to interior design full-time and closing up shop. Along the way, he has done five homes for her and her family.
The latest was a pandemic project, brought on by the sudden sale of the Long Island retreat that Boozer had previously designed. “We got an offer we couldn’t refuse,” Sullivan explains. “Suddenly we were in the bizarre position of wanting a new home very, very quickly.” Friends directed her to a Shingle Style house on the market in Southampton. “What were the chances it would be perfect?” she recalls of the five-bedroom home, whose traditional layout and decorative details sealed the deal. “My next call was to Rayman.”
Color, a shared passion, has always been the starting point for their collaborations. “People who don’t get color don’t get me,” notes Boozer, famous for his use of bold hues. Though Sullivan self-identifies as a “blue-and-white person,” Boozer made it his mission to incorporate green into the palette. (“She likes things to match; I like things to clash.”) Sylvan tones now creep into the mix like vines, appearing in pillows, artworks, and wallpapers. “Rayman always pushes me just outside my comfort zone,” says Sullivan. “He knows how to make it that much more playful and more interesting.” From the exuberant pink medley in the daughters’ room to the navy scheme in the son’s, the charter became bolder, brighter, more fun!
“It’s an upbeat house for upbeat people,” says Boozer. “I like to do projects that are happy. That’s what I am always striving for, to put positive vibes out into the world.” For Sullivan, who moved in in July 2020 after just four weeks of Zoom decorating meetings, those vibes have been powerful medicine. Her family rode out the pandemic in the Hamptons, with remote school at the dining room table and alfresco gatherings by the pool. “Rayman has been with us through all our phases as a family,” says Sullivan, noting that Boozer put the same love and attention into that first one-bedroom as he did this home. “He will forever be my go-to.” —Sam Cochran