A Designer, a Dancer & Their Daughters in a Modern Brooklyn Brownstone

updated Feb 19, 2019

A Designer, a Dancer & Their Daughters in a Modern Brooklyn Brownstone

updated Feb 19, 2019
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Name: Delia Kenza, Júlio Leitão, and their two daughters
Location: Clinton Hill — Brooklyn, New York
Size: 3,500 square feet
Years lived in: Owned 3 years

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Having already renovated and/or designed 10+ homes together over the past 15 years, Delia and Júlio were already well on their way to capitalizing on their experience. They had lived in four of these homes together, all in Manhattan, ranging from trendy Soho to soulful Harlem. But it was the tree-lined brownstone neighborhood of Clinton Hill, Brooklyn that allowed them to use everything they learned over the years in this masterpiece of a home.

Their home, which took them one and a half years to renovate, is a comfortable family space for this family of four. Set against a clean, minimalist backdrop, it is also the perfect showcase for much of their expansive art collection and creative endeavors. Júlio, the founder and creative director of Batoto Yetu, proudly designed and executed many of his dance troupe’s props and costumes, which proudly adorn the home in original form and in photographs. They even dedicate entire walls of their home to show off the work of Ugandan-Rwandan artist Moosh, who created two large murals in situ; one in the vestibule and the other in the second floor hallway. Other artwork throughout the home hails primarily from Angola, where Júlio is originally from.

Delia quips, “The less for me to clean, the better” but she’s very serious! This is the main reason why furnishings are kept to a minimum and staple household items all have their place in either sleek cabinetry or integrated closet space. All updated fixtures are classic modern, which abides by the “less is more” concept, and acts as a counterbalance to their vibrant art collections. With 13-foot ceilings at your disposal, there’s plenty of room to achieve both styles!

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: We like modern design for its practicality and simplicity (the less I have to clean the better). But we also like to incorporate modern African influences

Inspiration: My husband’s art, Africa and the creatives that bring a new twist to traditional designs.

Favorite Element: The original plaster-work and moldings and having a space where we can create everything from products for our accessories company, Coolshield, to African art and theater productions.

Biggest Challenge: Creating a powder room on the parlor floor

What Friends Say: “Can you adopt me?”

Proudest DIY: Julio installed the floors and rebuilt the stairs himself and we chose to use a burn technique to stain the floors rather than a commercial wood stain.

Biggest Indulgence: Whole house water filtration. It’s not the cost as much as the idea that we no longer need to buy bottled water and we bathe in water that has been filtered, that is a luxury to us.

Best Advice: Enjoy the process and stick to your vision and wallet.

Dream Sources: No place in particular. There are so many amazing places to shop. I buy what I like from sources all over.


Whole house — Super White by Benjamin Moore
Master Bedroom and Kids’ Bath (respectively) — Pitch Black and Yellowcake by Farrow and Ball

Mural by Moosh
Flos IC pendant light — Lumens
Bench/side tabl — Nate Berkus for Target
Afteroom Wall Mounted Coat Rack

Couch over 10 years old and reupholstered
Dot Line Wall light — Lambert & Fils
Coffee table — Vintage by Maurice Villency
Rasta Pouf — ABC Carpet and Home
Moooi Random Light — Design Within Reach

Monochrome Drop Chairs — Fritz Hansen
Cross Extension Dining Table — Design Within Reach
Ipnos Light — Flos
African Luba Sculpture — Julio

Marble Table — Vintage
Wire Gem Wall Sculpture — Jayson Home
Barstools — Wrong for Hay Revolver Stool
Appliances — Bosch and Liebherr
Three-arm Ceiling lamp — Serge Mouille for Design Within Reach
Monochrome Drop Chairs — Fritz Hansen

Task Lighting — Rich Brilliant Willing
Hall Wall Mural — Moosh
Seagrass Basket — Bloomingville

Stone Source — East Hampton
Faucets — Kohler from Grand Central Plumbing
Bathroom Sink — ADM Bathroom Design

Beds- Ikea
Art- Patrick-Earl Barnes
Ceiling pendant- Array by Bend Goods

Leather lounge chair — ABC Carpet and Home outlet
Photography — Patrick Demarchelier
Sculptures — Julio Leitão for Batoto Yetu

Thanks, Delia Kenza and Julio!

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