DUMBO House member and Creative Director Kai Avent-deLeon talks through the key pieces that turn her Brooklyn brownstone into a home.
Brooklyn native and DUMBO House member Kai Avent-deLeon has always been energised by her creative neighbourhood, Bedford-Stuyvesant. She founded a café and concept store Sincerely, Tommy there, and recently renovated her apartment nearby. Influenced by the earthy colours and organic textures of the desert, her home features layered neutrals, found pieces, one-of-a-kind artwork and meaningful treasures, all simply offset against the brownstone's classic period features.
'The architectural details of this space were the driving force behind my curation,' says Kai. 'The dark wood panelling is so prominent that it could easily consume the whole space; instead I worked to make it more of an accessory.' And so, every piece, from pared-back mid-century furniture to artworks painted by Kai or her friends, has earned its place. 'I never buy things just to fill a space. Everything is either something that I've collected from travelling, something I've made or designed myself or a piece that I know I'll be using frequently. I try to only put items in my home that I will carry with me for a long time.'
My interiors style has evolved drastically. I have gained a sense of appreciation for home that I just didn’t have ten years ago.
The two-storey apartment that Kai shares with her husband Nate and toddler son Ché owes its serenity in part to a gentle palette of off-whites, greys and neutrals. 'The desert is where I feel most at home in nature, so I wanted to bring a little of that,' says Kai. 'Those tones always make me feel grounded, especially living in a busy city.' Textures too, such as fluid ceramics and washed linens, add to the easy, organic feel. 'We'd like to buy a place upstate, where we can go a little more rustic, so pieces such as the aged Sagrada chair with its relaxed leather sling and the marble-topped Fleet side table will transition there beautifully.'
Though Kai's creative eye has produced a honed edit, her modern-minimalist style is infused with warmth thanks to unique found and own-designed pieces, including her artwork collection. The chequerboard piece hanging in the living room started life as a green canvas and 'evolved over time', while elsewhere works by friends are casually propped up or thoughtfully framed. 'I love that my friends are wonderful creators, so their works are among my favourite pieces,' says Kai. 'I look at our home as a source of inspiration as well as a sanctuary.'