An Artistic Brooklyn Brownstone Stays in the Family

An Artistic Brooklyn Brownstone Stays in the Family

An Artistic Brooklyn Brownstone Stays in the Family


Delia Kenza


This Homepolish designer's Brooklyn brownstone renovation carries on a family tradition with modern style, complete with custom wall murals & African art.

Photos by Sean Litchfield.

When you think of “family heirloom,” images of rusty silver or an outdated cocktail ring might come to mind, but for Homepolish designer Delia Kenza her generational hand-me-down is the Brooklyn brownstone her aunt left behind when she decamped to Florida.  

Delia appreciated her aunt’s unique 1970s design style, but wanted to update the space to reflect her and her family’s modern style. As a designer with a knack for renovations big and small, she approached the project with all the historical (original period of the home and her aunt’s many years in the abode) considerations in mind—but with no qualms about starting fresh.

“Change is good when it comes to a house,” she says. “If it’s got to go, then it’s got to go.”

Delia wanted to preserve brownstone’s essence—antique wood, ornate moldings, and hand-carved fireplaces—all while injecting the home with an influx of one-of-a-kind, bespoke artwork and sculpture. With a sculptor for a husband, it’s no wonder the home borrows from a gallery-like palette.

Crisp white walls give the space light, while statement shades like slate gray and black provide contrast. “To me,” Delia confides, “almost every space needs a little black. It just makes it better somehow.” Those classic neutrals got an artistic update with pieces like the intricately webbed dining room chandelier, carved wood all the way from Africa, and sleek, modern accents like a matte black kitchen island.  

The neutral bones provided a beautiful base for Delia and her artist husband Júlio Leitão to work off of. Both Delia and Júlio are connoisseurs of their own right, so each had some input as to what art would be included in the home. We mean that literally—much of the large sculptures seen throughout the home are works created by Júlio himself. While custom murals and other enviable pieces crop up left and right.

“I like how surprised people are when they see very traditional outside and then the inside, which is something completely different,” Delia explains. “I only like to stay true to a home’s original design if there is something true to stay to. If an aspect of the home has been altered to the point of no return, I use that as a new jumping off point.”

Pops of colors throughout the home come to life in minimal ways—a splash of turquoise, a dash of green, and a hint of red here or there deliver a certain playfulness that balances out the rest of the home’s seriously cool tones.

Rich, moody shades reign in the master bedroom, though, with walls coated in a Davy’s Gray tone creating a romantic backdrop for warm wood, dark ambers hues, and subtle gold accents.

While the grown-up space is delightfully dark, Delia and Júlio’s two daughters share a sweet and whimsical bedroom. White walls mean the space can evolve with the girls as they grow, but for now punches of personality come via neon picture frames, a cheeky lighted sign, and glittery posters.

The bedroom is a chill-out zone for the girls to unwind in after a long day (hey, we adults can forget how trying the politics of school can be sometimes), but the playroom is a space where their imaginations can come alive.

Color is truly at the forefront of this space—almost every shade of the rainbow is represented in one way or another. A luxuriously large sectional sofa gives the girls and their friends a lounging-destination while an antique wooden desk gives them a place to get down to business (homework, ew).

When it’s time for downtime, an outdoor space is the perfect spot for some book-reading and talking about the day in warmer months. Sofas, comfortable chairs, and of course a few pieces of art provide the ideal scenery for Delia and her family to chill.

In the end, the home is a family affair both in its design roots and its purposes as a space for a young family to grow and expand on the earlier’s traditions. As Delia told New York Magazine, the original owner has some thoughts about the place. “My aunt loves the renovation, and is proud of the work we did. She also wants you to know that her kitchen prior was very stylish.

Read the rest of Delia’s interview with New York Magazine and for more photos and sourcing information, click through the gallery below.

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