Simplifying (and Providing Storage) In Harlem

Simplifying (and Providing Storage) In Harlem

Simplifying (and Providing Storage) In Harlem


Maxine W


Homepolish designer Delia Kenza had some pretty clear directive from her client Maxine—clean house. Here's how she created curated-meets-minimal in 500 square feet.

Photos by Nick Glimenakis.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that our world is dominated by stuff; we covet it, we consume it, and we crave it no matter how hard we try not to. That’s why it’s so refreshing to unplug, declutter, and reset our priorities every once in awhile.

Globetrotter, art connoisseur, and overall fabulous woman Maxine agrees, so she contacted her longtime collaborator, Homepolish designer Delia Kenza to clean house and create a simple and sophisticated landing spot in Harlem.

Delia describes Maxine as “a producer, traveler, art collector, mother, and a friend to many” who splits her time between the busy city and the more mellow Jamaican scenery. Since the pair already had a solid rapport, Delia knew how to balance Maxine’s colorful life with a streamlined, pared-down space. For her NYC apartment, she wanted to get away from the “stuff”—which meant occasionally hiding it with clever storage.

To start, Delia took the apartment to the studs and reconfigured it for maximum storage—with minimal visibility.

“She wanted storage but wanted the doors to look more like they were part of the walls,” Dalia explained. Enter sleek invisible hinges and frosted glass doors that keep the space clean and bright. To help the small space feel more substantial, Delia employed one of her favorite tricks.

“Tall doors—I really believe the height of a door can change the scale of the room and add very subtle drama,” Delia says. “The doors in her space go as close to the ceiling a possible. Height can help makes a small space feel larger and grander.”

One of Maxime’s most ingenious hacks is how she stashed the a microwave—right in the kitchen wall itself—to further declutter the diminutive space.

“I’m not crazy about the over-the-range look so we found a way to install the microwave in the wall. This way no counter space was sacrificed,” Delia said. “But she is not the tallest person in the world so it had to be at a just right height.”

With the basic structure handled, Delia infused Maxine’s personality by making the the most of the client’s stunning, extensive art collection.

Each piece has a story; the hallway highlights art by the recently-passed Jamaican artist David Marchand, while the kitchen showcases London-based Famie Fairnie’s work. The collaboration continued with the large tribal sculpture in the living room—created by Delia’s own husband, Júlio Leitão.

To create an oasis of calm for Maxine to sink into at the end of the day, Delia kept the bedroom stripped of excess. Only the essentials—clean-lined bedside tables, hyper-functional lamps, plant life for keeping the sometimes-city-dweller happy in even in the depths of winter, subtle hued linens and a statement-making piece of art—give the bedroom a considered and calm vibe.

The small space hasn’t held Maxime back from her lifestyle. Thanks to the ample storage she can shop ‘til she drops with no repercussions (per Delia) and still throw a successful dinner party.

“I love how spacious it feels,” Delia says. “She entertains ten-plus people at a time and it’s not uncomfortable.”

The minimalist space doesn’t have to stay that way forever though. “To keep things fresh, I will suggest adding or taking away a piece,” Delia says. “A place, like people evolves.”

View additional photos and sourcing in the gallery below.

In this tour:
Living Room