Interiorssneak peeks

A Brooklyn Home for a Growing Creative Family

by Grace Bonney

Over the past 12 years of blogging, there have been a handful of homes that grabbed me from the moment I saw them. Usually these homes have a wealth of color and pattern or incredible historic and architectural details. Sometimes they’re filled with a family that exudes so much love that I want to sneak over for dinner just to bask in all that warmth and happiness. This Brooklyn home has all of those qualities in abundance.

Writer Rumaan Alam and photographer David Land share this beautiful Crown Heights home in Brooklyn, NY with their sons, Simon, 7, and Xavier, 4. After outgrowing their previous home in Fort Greene, Rumaan and David dreamed of finding a place with outdoor space in a neighborhood that felt like “a cross section of New York,” with all different types of people. “One where a family that looks like ours would feel at home,” Rumaan shares.

Because their family includes two growing boys, David and Rumaan wanted their decorating style to accommodate their sons’ ever-changing needs and collection of toys. “Things are always shifting, but that’s how a house should be: dynamic, not fixed,” Rumaan offers.

Constant redecorators and re-arrangers, David and Rumaan like to mix together pieces from their travels and personal collections (everything from old magazines and books to vintage jigsaw puzzles) with things they’ve inherited from family. And despite the home’s staircase not being wide enough for furniture to pass through to the upstairs (the mattresses had to be sent up through a window!), they were able to get all of their favorite pieces inside and at home.

Rumaan and David describe their home as, “short on light and heavy on dark wood finishes,” so they counteracted the visual weight with lots of color and bright patterns. They find that the “visual busy-ness” actually disguises the jumble of toys that is often strewn about.

What shines through most of all in this space is a clearly abundant sense of joy, excitement, action and love. Rumaan and David have found a way to combine their practical needs as a family of four with their incredible collection of artwork and treasured objects. The result is a home that we’d all be lucky to live in. Thank you to David, Rumaan, Simon and Xavier for sharing their remarkable home with us today.

Photographs by David Land. Styling by Kate Jordan

*Rumaan has a fantastic new novel out this summer called Rich & Pretty. I read it on vacation last month and loved every page. Click here to check it out!

**We’re taking our annual team break and will be back after Labor Day with new posts. Until then, have a wonderful holiday week/end!


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Living room gallery wall, from top right:

  • Vintage botanical print that belonged to David’s paternal grandfather.
  • The five horizontal hand paintings on tin are made to decorate rickshaws, and bought in Bangladesh.
  • The two needlepoint dancers are vintage, found in Florida.
  • The oil painting is a self portrait by David’s grandfather. The bird print belonged to him as well.
  • The photograph in the gold frame is by Matthew Barney; it’s a menu from the now shuttered restaurant Chanterelle.
  • The blue drawing is by the artist Lori Ellison.
  • The vintage painting of Lenin is a factory piece, found at a junk sale in Tblisi, Georgia.
  • The uppermost painting is a landscape we bought at the Affordable Art Fair years ago.
  • The painting of the hand is by Kip Frace, the square collage and square painting are by Stephanie Snider.
  • The vintage watercolor is an original illustration from a textbook of Indian regimental uniforms; we have another in the office.
  • The peacock painting was purchased on the side of the road in Bharatpur, India.
  • The vintage photograph is from eBay.
  • The anatomical illustration of a rooster is in Arabic, and found at Deyrolle, in Paris.
  • The oil portraits of the boys were found on eBay.
  • The amateur painting of Martin Luther King was found on eBay.
Simon and Xavier at home in their bedroom. "The boys' bedroom is not huge," Rumaan admits. "For a long time it was just white walls, but we added this pretty (removable) Chasing Paper print on the wall and it completely changed the space; it now seems so much bigger. There's a lesson there." The dresser is from Gothic Cabinet Craft and was painted a sunshine yellow. The red chair is by Marco Zanuso; Rumaan had one as a child (it's in the living room) and found a set of four at an antiques store in Brooklyn Heights. The pot is Moroccan (it's filled with stuffed animals). David bought the hand-embroidered pouf in South Africa.
On top of the boys' dresser is a lamp from Crate & Barrel. The wooden elephant by Matt Austin was a baby gift from one of the family's dearest friends. The Martin Luther King woodcut was found on Etsy; the poster is from a school supply shop. The faux bamboo planter was found at Goodwill.
Xavier and Simon's bunk beds are from Gothic Cabinet Craft as well. Rumaan says, "they came in a hideous shade of green, so we spray painted them grey." The sheets are by Plover and the Indian duvets are from Tilonia. The clay elephants hanging in the window are from Bangladesh. The leopard is printed on balsa wood; it's from Salvor Projects.
Rumaan, David, Xavier and Simon in the dining room. Rumaan says, "we spend a lot of time in the dining room; not just family dinners, but the boys' toys are mostly stored here. It is a dark and elegant room, so we tried to liven it up a bit. A pink table does that nicely, as does the collection of Washington portraits." They found the table on eBay and the Paul McCobb chairs were found at Cosmo, in Williamsburg. The rug is from ecarpetgallery.com. The George Washingtons are a mix of amateur paintings and antique prints assembled from junk stores and eBay.
The dining room window treatment is a scrap of hand-blocked fabric Rumaan and David bought in Jaipur. The horsehead tassel was found on eBay.
A detail of David and Rumaan's George Washington painting collection.
This Paul McCobb bar was the first piece of furniture Rumaan and David bought together as a couple. "That probably says something about us!", says Rumaan. The bar was found at Belkind Bigi, in Tarrytown. The painted glassware is by Roost and the hobnail pitcher is vintage. The papier-mache bust of Jean-Jacques Dessalines was bought in Haiti and the botanical print belonged to David's paternal grandfather.
Rumaan and David's books are stored in these built-in cabinets (behind fabric). They covered the glass in the cabinets with a remnant of a vintage Schumacher toile found on eBay. The pouf is from One Kings Lane and the vintage trophies belonged to David's maternal grandfather (he won them for sailing). The busts (Mozart and Charles Lindbergh) are vintage. The sculpture is St. Francis of Adelaide, an edition for Cereal Art by Kehinde Wiley, which David and Rumaan bought at auction. The rug was found on eBay; the jigsaw puzzles are all vintage, and were all found on eBay. The Jacob Lawrence poster is from MoMA. The wardrobe belonged to David's paternal grandfather; David and Rumaan had it lacquered in light blue.
A detail of David's grandfather's trophy collection.
The family's kitchen gets a LOT of use. "We've got two growing boys and not much in the way of local restaurants that deliver," Rumaan explains. "It's pretty spare so that it can be truly functional." The cabinetry and countertops are all IKEA. The rug is from eBay and the plant hangers are from Etsy.
The vintage enamel bowl in the kitchen is by Kaj Frank. The window panel is by John Robshaw.
David and Rumaan's bed is by DwellStudio. "It is amazing," Rumaan begins, "The headboard has this cocooning effect; a cliche to say this, but you really do feel like you're in a luxury hotel room when you're in this bed." The nighstands are from the Perspecta Series by Kent Coffey, and were found on Krrb. The vintage brass mirrors are from eBay; the lamps are Jonathan Adler. The duvet is by Safe House; the shams are by Coyuchi for West Elm. The bird pillow is by John Robshaw. The bench is from Target; the block printed blanket on the bench was bought in Mount Abu, India. The plant stand is by CB2. The roman shades are custom, by recreateyour.com.
The loveseat in Rumaan and David's bedroom belonged to David's paternal grandfather. "It's a very special piece to us," Rumaan says. "The fabric is just so odd and great." The same fabric is also on Rumaan's desk chair and a set of chairs that come out at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners when they have a lot of guests. The bottom rug is IKEA; the top rug is vintage, from eBay. The bolster is in "Hooray for the President" fabric by the South African designer Tracy Rushmere. The canvas flag is vintage, found on eBay (the seller says it was from a firehouse in San Francisco).
A detail of the master bedroom's amazing loveseat fabric.
The family gathers together for a portrait in the master bedroom.
David and Rumaan's art collection is a mix of pieces that are personally meaningful, like gifts from friends who are artists or souvenirs from great trips. A gallery wall was a great way to highlight it all and disguise the "hideous" television. The standouts here are probably the five paintings on tin; they're meant to decorate rickshaws, and David and Rumaan bought them from a rickshaw workshop in Dhaka, Bangladesh, years ago. The gallery wall and most of the art in the house was hung by drill4you.com, an excellent service. The framing was mostly handled by frameitinbrooklyn.com, which is equally excellent. (More details on the art in the gallery wall in the post text below).
The living room sofa is vintage, and belonged to David's paternal grandfather; David and Rumaan had it recovered in Sultan's Walk by P/Kaufmann. The Otomi blanket is from Mexico, the blue pillows are by xnasozi and the armchairs are vintage, from Modhaus.com; the upholstery is by Robert Allen. The occasional table is vintage, and belonged to David's paternal grandfather. The coffee table and etagere are by Room and Board. The rug is from One Kings Lane. The bolster is in "Hooray for the President" fabric by the South African designer Tracy Rushmere. The yellow and blue chairs are by Marco Zanuso (the yellow one belonged to Rumaan as a child). The credenza is Paul McCobb, and was found on eBay. The pitcher is an edition by Kara Walker for Bernardaud. The Kartell componibili storage unit was found on eBay; it's full of toys.
Before Rumaan and David had children, they spent a wonderful few weeks traveling through India. This painting is a reminder of that time; it's a reproduction of a piece they saw in the Jaipur City Palace, an early large-scale Polaroid portrait that had been painted, giving it this uncanny look that was part photograph, part painting. "We tried in vain to find a reproduction to buy, but in the end found an artist in India to reproduce it based on a photograph."
David and Rumaan's chinoiserie porcelain is all vintage from the Hunted Collection.
The living room buffet is antique, by Baker, and belonged to David's paternal grandfather. The lamps are by Ballard Designs.
The campaign chests in the home's entryway belonged to David's maternal grandfather. The pineapple lamp is from Horchow. The vintage mirror was found at a junk shop in Hudson, New York. The oil painting is a self-portrait by David's grandfather. The vintage globe is Russian, from the 1950s. The chair is vintage, and belonged to David's grandfather; it's clad in the same bird fabric as the loveseat in the bedroom. The pieces on the wall are actually pocket squares by Ikire Jones; too lovely to wear, so David and Rumaan had them framed.
This room adjoins the master bedroom and doubles as a Rumaan's office and the dressing room (the dresser doesn't fit in the bedroom). The Parsons desk was found on eBay. The desk chair is vintage, and part of the set that belonged to David's paternal grandfather. The antique mirror is from Downtown Antiques in Accord, NY. The lamps are vintage, and belonged to David's paternal grandfather. The art, clockwise from the right: a painting by Marilyn Holsing, bought at Philadelphia's Gallery Joe, a pencil drawing by the artist Katherine Mitchell, a friend of Rumaan's family, a watercolor of a whale by Simon, when he was four, a wood postcard by Jenny Holzer, and an oil by Jas Knight. The vintage watercolor illustration of an Indian regimental uniform is from eBay. The vintage Smiths poster is from eBay. The glass vase is an antique that belonged to David's paternal grandfather. The rug is from eBay. The tote on the chair is by WANT Les Essentiels.
Rumaan and David's vintage dresser was found on eBay. The lamps are by Horchow. The wallpaper is by Voutsa. The wood mobile is from Buenos Aires. The bird prints belonged to David's paternal grandfather; the framed drawing is by the artist Xylor Jane. The bust of Stalin is from the Stalin museum in the Republic of Georgia. The blue and white bowl is Moroccan. The green plate is Hermes; on top if it is a wax candle in the shape of the Reichstag, bought in Berlin.
Rumaan's new novel, Rich & Pretty, was released this summer and is set in contemporary New York. The novel, "provides a sharp, insightful look into how the relationship between two best friends changes when they are no longer coming of age but learning how to live adult lives." Click here to check it out and order online!

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  • Finally, a house tour that isn’t just white walls, MCM, and succulents! Or trophy heads!! This place is great. Nice and busy, love the use of pattern and color. Although I would replace the phrase “in spades” in the article, because “spade” is a racist term.

  • This house tour was pure eye candy! Thanks to the owners and the DS team for sharing it. I already want to go back and look at everything all over again!

    Also, I had to comment on the use of “in spades” just because I love words and learning about the origin of phrases, etc. I have read that “in spades” is actually derived from the card game, Bridge, and the suit of card called a spade, and is not related to the derogatory use of the word. It means anything ‘in abundance’ or ‘of quality’.

  • I love how this home feels so personal and collected. I was just telling my mom that I needed to lay off blogs for a while because I was getting so sick of seeing the exact same spaces over and over and today I find this post- color, happiness, individuality all over the place. Thanks for this beautiful post and burst of inspiration for my own home!

  • I love the Interiors series and happily drool through every single one DS has to offer. This is one of the first times I have ever wanted to review the photos again immediately. This home is so inspiring! The collections. The heirlooms. The color. The art. Excellent job, Rumaan and David…and thanks to DS for treating us all to this post.

  • Oh my goodness, I love your place! It is so unique and inspired but it still looks very warm and lived in. One of my all time favorites!

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