A Neutral Chic Brooklyn Home

updated Feb 19, 2019
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(Image credit: Nasozi Kakembo)

Name: Mekiel Nuñez and Saadiq Vaughan
Location: Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn
Size: 700 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year

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The stereotypical New Yorker’s wardrobe consists unapologetically of black, greys, neutrals, and denims. Perhaps the overabundance of visual stimulation in our surroundings is why we prefer our clothes understated. Prescribing to these same wardrobe allegiances, Mekiel, an HR manager at H&M, and Saadiq, a retail professional and actor, have translated the sophisticated yet downplayed hallmark of New York style right into the comforts of their home… with a twist.

(Image credit: Nasozi Kakembo)

Decorating a home along a color-averse scheme can go either way: If done correctly, it exudes comfort and restraint. If not, a space can come off as sterile and underwhelming. What has allowed Mekiel and Saadiq to execute an authentic rendition of “neutral-chic” is the way they introduce variety through local buys and one-of-a-kind finds. Most of these are an expression of their cultural heritage. Mekiel was born in Guatemala of Garifuna descent and moved to Brooklyn at age 7; Saadiq is African-American.

Intricately carved masks and mudcloth pillows add texture and personality to the home while neutral furnishings serve as the backdrop. And they wisely selected a combination of hardy plant life to bring moments of greenery into the space. They also personalize the neutral home in how they arrange their framed art. Some of it is intentionally left on the ground leaning against one another, while the frames above the couch are hung in a playful assortment.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Rustic, Minimal, Modern, Clean

Inspiration: East and West African art forms, Scandinavian designs, Red Rooster Harlem, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

Favorite Element: Definitely our breakfast nook! It’s our office, dining area, card table, etc. We do everything here!

Biggest Challenge: Finding new spaces for some of our favorite things from our old apartment. We ran the risk of having to let go of some things but we sat down and re-envisioned our use for certain things.

What Friends Say: Cozy and creative, “is there room for me?” and “can you guys design my place?”

Biggest Embarrassment: Our love of neutrals! It’s a double-edged sword really, because it allows for us to display color at random. There are moments where we sit back and say “wow we need more color” but we aren’t the most “colorful”; our wardrobe is even neutral!

Proudest DIY: Does putting furniture together count as D.I.Y.? We aren’t the total DIY type, but we LOVE our gallery wall, from the framed cloth to the necklace; we really let our creativity shine through.

Biggest Indulgence: The apartment in itself. Brooklyn IS NOT cheap.

Best Advice: Take your time. Fill your space with things that you love and make you happy. There are no design faux pas when it comes to designing a space that is yours.

Dream Sources: All of the local shops in Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights & Harlem: Peace and Riot, Marche Rue Dix, Sincerely Tommy, Malcolm Shabazz African Market



  • Console table: West Elm
  • Blue shoes: Mr.B Collection for Aldo
  • Driftwood vase: Gift from Mekiel’s mom 🙂
  • African mask: Calabar imports Franklin Avenue


  • Arc floor lamp: Craigslist
  • Vertical bookcase: CB2
  • Rug: Gift from Saadiq’s Dad
  • Coffee table: West Elm
  • Lucite table: Found on street in Park Slope (!)
  • Pillows: xNasozi
  • African basket on table: Peace and Riot
  • Succulent planter: Saffron BK
  • Floating picture ledge: An oldie from Restoration Hardware
  • African woman poster and Brooklyn poster (on floor): Nkemlife Via Nubian Hueman Boutique



  • Knife board: SAIC Acacia magnetic knife board from CB2
  • Bar cart: Another gift from Mekiel’s mom 🙂


  • Coordinates poster: ThePrintableStudio via Etsy
  • Ugandan basket: Malcolm Shabazz Market in Harlem
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Mekiel and Saadiq have been in their new home for just over a year. (Image credit: Nasozi Kakembo)

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Thanks, Mekiel and Saadiq!