ALISON NELSON: FOUNDER/ CHOCOLATE BAR [WWW.CHOCOLATEBARNYC.COM]
One husband, two kids and a dog called Spot. To keep harmony in their one-bedroom apartment, chocolate diva Alison Nelson has to be an ergonomics expert.
When we moved in, before the kids came along, we thought we had a big house,” laughs Alison Nelson, 34, as she walks ìnto the open plan living room, prewar apartment she shares with her husband, Adam Nelson, CEO of WORKHOUSE (www.workhousepr.com), and their children, Lulu 4 1/2, and Sailor, 18 months. These days the three-seater couch has been replaced by a dark leather two-seater from ABC Carpet and Home, and a sleek blond wood desk from West Elm stands in for a dining room table.
"We wanted to make as much space as possible for the kids to run around" Says Alison, founding owner of Chocolate Bar (www.chocolatebarnyc.com).
The Nelson's have rented a one-bedroom in London Terrace for the past six years--- a long time by New York standards, especially for a family of four. We know we'll have to move when Sailor needs his own room. The building doesn't have two-bedroom apartments," she says. (Sailor currently occupies a white white Offi crib filled with Ugly dolls in a corner of his parents’ bedroom; Lulu sleeps in a converted walk-in closet.) “Each year we look at what’s out there, but we can’t find another building with as much charm, not to mention a beautiful, Olympic-size covered courtyard and roof deck.”
Often referred to as “the downtown Dakota,” London Terrace Gardens takes up an entire city block, between 9th and 10th Avenues and 23rd and 24th Streets. it’s resplendent with Art Deco flxtures and has played home to Nicole Kidman,Terì Hatcher and Annie Leibovitz. “Nicole would swim in the pool every morning when she here,” says Adam.
Alison and Adam were married in January 2002. Five months later Alison opened her first Chocolate Bar, a coffee Shop offering retro-style chocolate for grown-ups, in the West Village. There was the sophisticated uptown Chocolate Bar cafe’ inside Henri Bendel, and a third store in New Jersey which gives Alison an excuse to go to the beach. Chocolate Bar has become a hit in the Middle East, too: She has opened seven stores in Dubai and Qatar in partnership with a Dubai-based company. “I'm currently working on recipes with dates and figs to appeal to a Middle Eastern palate,” she says. “And it’s a very real possibility that we'll have to be in Qatar for the summer."
At home, meanwhile, the Nelson's don't live like renters. They’ve covered one wall in the living room with Cole & Son wallpaper, and in December 2005 they renovated. “The large walk-in closet made a perfect bedroom for Lulu once we built the wall out,” says Alison.
In Lulu's room, tulle and sequins spill out of a dress-up box and the doors of an old armoire have been removed so that Lulu can get to her outfits more easily (“She loves to play dress up,” says Alison. “Shes a bit of performer.")
Purple and green Blik vinyls adorn the pink walls. “Vinyls are so great, especially with kids, because you can take them off if you hate them,” Alison says. Fluffy toys are lined up on the bed and an impressive Barbie coliection is stored in an over the-door shoe rack. “We were are having a Barbie explosion,” she explains. And above the made-to-meausre twin bed is a photograph of Lulu the performer in action. “Our photographer friend Brian Kennedy did a crying baby series,” she heard heard us talking about it and immediateIy made her best crying face for him.”
Alison and Adam's aesthetic is a mix of modern and nostalgic. In their bedroom, a French Deco chandelier hangs over the white linen-covered antique iron bed that Adam found in a flea market long before he met Alison. “We agreed it was a keeper,” She says. “You just don't find heavy pieces like that these days.” lt’s hard to imagine the kids jumping on the pristine bed, but they do. “I need things to be too prim and proper,” says Alison. “Thats how I live my life.”
Spot, a black lab mix, is also welcome on the furniture. As Alison takes a seat on the leather couch, he walks across the old wood floors and climbs up next to her. Alison crosses one slim leg over another (shes blessed with an enviable metabolism for someone who claims to gorge on chocolate|ate every night). “I found Spot in the East Village two days before I met my husband,” she says, affectionately scratching the dog behind his ears. Their living room-presided over by a David LaChapelle photograph of Milla Jovovich standing in front oŕ Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood holding a giant Oscar--- is the family's favorite room in the house. After dinner, there is usually some sort of concert. “Adam will put on a record and Lulu will get her microphone out. Sailor strums on his guitar,” says Alison` “I have two New York City kids who don't go to bed until 10 pm., no matter how hard I try.”
Written by: Nadine Rubin
PHOTOGRAPHY: KARIN KOHLBERG FOR PAGESÍXMAGAZINE; PROP STYLING: JAMES MASSENBURG FOR OLIVER PIRO HAIR AND MAKEUP: NAOMI VVARDEN
PHOTO: Alison and her daughter, Lulu, share a moment with Mr. Warhol; Chocolate Bar chocolates; and in the bedroom, a polka-dot chair adds personality.