Name: Kai Avent-deLeon and Dan Solomito
Location: Bedford-Stuyvesant; Brooklyn, NY
Size: 900 square feet
Years lived in: 4 years
Kai Avent-deLeon (pronounced Kai-E) is no stranger to the homes that have put her Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood on the historical record of architecture and design. She was born and raised here, and the brownstone that her apartment is in, which she shares with her boyfriend Dan, has been in her family for nearly half a century.
Restoring it to its original glory was a labor of love. But to fulfill this tall order, they did not succumb to the stress that can come along with renovation. Restoring all salvageable original details, Kai and Dan perfected a classic brownstone backdrop in which they would go on to express their own modern style.
Their entire renovation was essentially a DIY and rather non-intrusive. When Kai returned to the home four years ago after residing elsewhere, most of the wood had fallen victim to shoddy (if not garish) paint jobs. So together, she and Dan stripped them down; kitchen cabinets, floors, and all. Once the restoration was complete, they appointed their home in timeless and minimalist pieces, like the African masks from Kai’s grandmother, and the wardrobe in their bedroom, also an heirloom. Key in maintaining the century-old character are the light fixtures, the shutters, and the now-decorative fireplaces which were all original and restored thanks to their handiwork.
Kai and Dan amassed an impressive collective of mid-century and industrial chic furniture, which affords the apartment a bright, contemporary update. In true New Yorker fashion, Kai did not shy away from the occasional curbside or flea market find. Having worked for Chanel before opening her own concept store, Sincerely, Tommy, she knows a good thing when she sees one. She came by some of their most exquisite pieces this way. And then a trip to Greece sparked Kai’s affinity for marble, which she had imported for accents both in her home and her store, also located in Bedford-Stuyvesant. A little goes a long way in their home. Wall decor is minimal yet bold, wood finishings are restrained, and form follows function in the kitchen, an impressive formula for updating a classic brownstone home.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Mid-century modern/ Industrial modern
Inspiration: Nate Berkus
Favorite Element: The old Victorian woodwork against the modern furniture and decorative accessories.
Biggest Challenge: Maintaining or achieving the write wood stains during the renovation.
What Friends Say: They love it. It’s cozy and clean, minimal at the same time.
Biggest Embarrassment: The terrible paint job we did in the bedroom. My boyfriend is a great painter, but I got impatient and now there are all these streaks and different shades of grey.
Proudest DIY: The kitchen design
Biggest Indulgence: Our couch from ABC. We wanted something comfy, but saw the couch and managed to justify the purchase.
Best Advice: Buy things you like rather than buying just to match. It all goes together in the end.
Dream Sources: ABC Carpet and Home, Flea Market on 25th and 7th in Manhattan, The Window
Resources of Note:
- Benjamin Moore, forgot the color!
- Grey felt bench- Ben Erickson, Erickson Aesthetics
- Wire mesh cage- ABC Carpet and Home
- Glass bookcase- Found it on the street
- Sofa- ABC Carpet and Home
- Eames reproduction- LexMod
- Modern art floor lamp with marble base- Antique shop on Atlantic Avenue
- Credenza- Junk
- Coffee table- CB2
- Ceramic bowl- Crate and Barrel
- Ink drawings (above TV console)- Paul Klee
- Green velvet chairs- Organic Modernism
- Marble dining table, Saarinen reproduction – Organic Modernism
- Lucite chairs- Kartell
- Locker- Antique shop on Atlantic Avenue
- Artcards on locker door- Dave Choate
- African masks- Grandmother and flea market
- Silver sculpture- BoConcept
- Stainless steel counters- Bowery Restaurant Supply
- Marble floors- Home Depot tiles
- Light fixtures- IKEA
- Artwork (Breakfast bar)- OWV BICS from Sincerely, Tommy
- Breakfast bar stools- World Market
- Standing bowl- Fort Standard
- Rug- ABC Carpet and Home
- Artwork- Sean Qualls
- Stitched butterly chair-Crate and Barrel
- Wardrobe and dresser- Antiques from Kai’s grandmother
Thanks, Kai and Dan!
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(Image credits: Nasozi Kakembo)