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Artist Meghan Boody Is Selling Her Wild Tribeca Loft

The great room centers on Meghan Boody’s diorama, The Mice and Me (2008). Her photographs line the walls. Photo: Rinze Van Brug

The artist Meghan Boody creates surreal spaces for her subjects. In one diorama, live mice scurry over the figure of a sleeping girl. In the digital art she creates by clipping and manipulating photographs, models sleep in flooding palaces, rest their feet on manatees, and walk enormous, dog-size frogs. “I’m really interested in creating fantastical environments where you have this bleed between fantasy and reality,” Boody said, “where you can live in these places that take you somewhere else.”

As she has created this body of work, which has been shown at the Brooklyn Museum and acquired by the Whitney, Boody has built a fantastical world for herself. In her fifth-floor apartment in Tribeca, a warren of half-hidden, wallpapered rooms unfold around an 800-square-foot, 18-foot-high ceilinged great room. Boody arrived in the building — a former shoe factory — in 1993 as a renter, taking over a space where artists had been living and working — with one part set up for metalwork and welding. Her neighbors were artists, too, like Paul Rotterdam (who eventually sublet his place to the photographer Ellen Von Unwerth).

She bought the place outright in 1995 for $530,000 and made it work with a few minimal changes until 2001, when she undertook a renovation that would transform the plaster and beams into an off-kilter Victorian dollhouse. In the entryway, doors buried seamlessly in baroque wallpaper reveal a cocktail bar and a set of stairs up to a low-ceilinged loft where Boody likes to host teas. Off the entry, a long hallway hung with her photographs opens into the sunny, yellow great room. The kitchen is set into a nook below a catwalk balcony, whose banister is structural — supporting a mezzanine floor with two bedrooms and a bath — but Boody didn’t want a severe steel railing. Instead, she had a metalworker stamp in a moorish pattern, inspired by the grid of four-leaf clovers she’d seen on radiator covers in classic, prewar apartments. “I love anything redolent of a past era,” she said. “But only timeless spaces. The minute you say, That’s so ’70s, I’m not interested.”

Photo: New York Magazine
A 2011 feature in New York Magazine shows the balcony and its quatrefoil pattern. Photo: New York Magazine
The 2011 piece focused on Boody’s secret room (right), accessed off a staircase in the foyer (left). Photo: New York Magazine

Off the great room, an antique arched door encloses a teensy library, walled with mahogany shelves. Boody sleeps in a bed whose posts are capped with wooden parrots, and wakes to dance or practice yoga on a private roof-deck. She wallpapered her son’s room in a yellowed pattern that shows monkeys frolicking at a circus. “The space I created is really like the most cushy, softest cocoon you can possibly imagine,” she said. And it’s releasing her now, like some kind of downtown art-world butterfly.

Now, Boody has decided to move to France. More specifically: “I don’t know if you realize this, but you can buy a chateau in France for the price of a one-bedroom apartment in New York,” she said. Her plan is to sell, buy such a chateau, and decorate it in her signature style — which she hopes will draw fantastical events and, with them, the cash to pour into a more personal project. The rest of the castle will host artists, animals, and families coming together after a rupture caused by mental-health issues or drug abuse, giving them a place to heal. “We all get bogged down and oversaturated by crap,” she said. “I try to create a safe haven.”

The entryway opens to a wallpapered foyer, where a fountain on the right was added for feng shui reasons. Photo: Rinze Van Brug
A bath off the foyer. Photo: Rinze Van Brug
The hall opens into the great room, where windows peer over West Broadway and Duane Street. Photo: Rinze Van Brug
The sofa and upholstered chairs came from Boody’s grandmother. The Chinese daybed came from her ex-husband. Pendant lamps were salvaged from an airplane hangar. Photo: Rinze Van Brug
An antique arched door opens into a cozy library. The framed photos are by Boody. Photo: Rinze Van Brug
The library. “In the space, there are all these discoveries,” said broker Erin Boisson Aries. “It’s not just an open plan where you walk in and see everything.” Photo: Rinze Van Brug
Boody slept in the high-ceilinged bedroom downstairs. Photo: Rinze Van Brug
The bathroom off the primary bedroom. Photo: Rinze Van Brug
The wood columns and the wood vents in the ceiling are original to the building, a former shoe factory. A balcony leads to two bedrooms and a bathroom on the second floor. Photo: Rinze Van Brug
A guest bedroom on the second floor. Photo: Rinze Van Brug
Boody’s son slept in this bedroom on the second floor. Photo: Rinze Van Brug
The bathroom off Boody’s son’s room features elephants in the tilework. Photo: Rinze Van Brug
A private roof-deck with prime views over Tribeca. Photo: Rinze Van Brug
The former shoe factory at 115 West Broadway features retail on the ground floor, which offsets the maintenance fee. Photo: Rinze Van Brug
Photo: Rinze Van Brug
Artist Meghan Boody Is Selling Her Wild Tribeca Loft