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As a child, interior designer Danielle Fennoy thought most other kids spent their weekends perusing the aisles of Home Depot, stenciling floors, and stripping paint off windowsills. That’s what her mom, a scientist and seriously good gardener, and dad, a radio DJ with a habit of buying fixer-uppers, liked to do for fun—and they wanted to let their daughter in on the action, too. 

“My parents let me design my bathroom when I was in high school, which is kind of crazy,” she says, recalling the tumbled marble and gold accents she picked out. “I wouldn’t say it was my best work.” Even when she was at Denison University studying psychology, she toyed with the furniture in the spacious triple-bunk dorm room she had all to herself (the perks of being an R.A.). Then, scratching her itch to live on the East Coast, Fennoy applied to Pratt Institute in New York and it all started to click. “I think it was always there, but then I figured out this can actually be a career,” says Fennoy, who now runs the firm Revamp.

Counter Stools, Stua; Dining Table, Room & Board; Custom Neon Sign, Vida Signs; Bowl (on island), Dinosaur Designs; Black Vessels (near stove), Rejuvenation and Crate & Barrel; Backsplash Tile, Cement Tile Co.; Refrigerator and Range, Samsung.
Lamp, Flos; Various artwork by Markus Linnenbrink, Deborah RobertsJason Rohlf, and Jevaun Howell.

Then as the story goes, when you live in Brooklyn for so many years, her husband, Jevaun Howell, caught the brownstone bug. Fennoy’s first reaction was: Absolutely not—they’re too much work. But by 2016, it was clear they had outgrown their Prospect Heights condo, mostly due to the addition of their son, Zidane. “We lost out on many a bidding war, but when we walked into this one, it just felt like home,” recalls Fennoy. There was a backyard that spoke to Howell (he’s the griller of the family) and two bonus apartments that they currently rent out to tenants. 

Sofa, Ligne Roset; Blanket, Jason Wu for AllModern; Custom Rug, Rug and Kilim; Vintage Coffee Table, Chairish; Chair, Hans Wegner; Custom Round Pillow, Angelo’s Furniture; Side Table, Hem; Art (over sofa) by April Banks; Tapestry Art by Jamele Wright.

Right away, Fennoy renovated the kitchen. You can’t blame her: The cabinets were a pearlized laminate, the fridge was blocking beautiful window moldings, and the peninsula bisected the room. But quickly, she realized the stock cabinets they bought weren’t holding up well. “Now we have a pseudo-custom kitchen that we’re really happy with, but had we been more patient, we wouldn’t have had to do that twice,” says the designer. 

Custom Wallpaper, Revamp x Twenty2; Sconces, George Nelson; Bedding, Brooklinen; Duvet Cover and Shams, Parachute; Lumbar Pillow, Crate & Barrel; Nightstand, Moroso; Custom Curtain Fabric, Romo; Rug, CB2; Art (over headboard) by Dan Monteavaro.

Most of the other projects they bit off in small chunks over the years. This slow-but-steady approach allowed Fennoy to dig into customization. For one, the couple turned what was once designated as a child’s room into their primary suite. The garden-level bedroom is now home to their space-saving storage bed and minimal Italian-made nightstands. 

The gradient wallpaper is her own creation that she tasked Twenty2 Wallpaper and Textiles with bringing to life. “I was like, how do we have this balance of light and inviting as well as moody and sleepy?” she says. The treatment is inspired by the illustrations in the children’s book The Snowy Day, but Fennoy and Howell jokingly call their space the “static room” because it also happens to look like a broken TV screen. “We get the best sleep, and it doesn’t feel like you’re in a black room either,” she says. 

While the bespoke wallpaper is reserved for just them, Fennoy hopes people who walk by the house catch a glimpse of what’s happening in their living room. “You say a lot about yourself with your art,” she says. In the spring of 2020, the death of George Floyd weighed heavily on her mind, and Fennoy channeled all the emotions she was feeling at the time into purchasing a large Jamele Wright tapestry. Between the punchy shades of orange and violet are lines from the Tony-winning musical The Wiz. “I really wanted a piece of provocative art, but I also wanted something that wasn’t going to make me sad, and so I was like, I need this to be about Black joy,” explains Fennoy. The piece’s casual display (it came rolled up in a box and hangs from screw eyes) makes it easy to move to a different spot in the house if she ever chooses to redecorate. 

Wallpaper, Timorous Beasties; Mirror and Lamp, CB2
Floor Tile, Cement Tile Shop; Vanity, IKEA; Tub, Vintage Tubs; Sconce, Schoolhouse; Soap, Apotheke; Hand Towels, Parachute; Art, Urban Outfitters.

The one thing that’s not moving in this room? The 26-foot-long (!) rug that continues on into the adjacent sitting area. Fennoy designed the floor covering with Rug and Kilim and specified the spots where she wanted to see a touch more color or a sliver of more pattern. She felt okay splurging on the custom piece, given her Ligne Roset Ploum sofa was free (a client had a spare one that they were struggling to donate because of a stain on its gray upholstery). Fennoy offered to buy it, but they told her not to worry about it—and then she promptly bought a plum-colored cover to take care of the blemish. “It is really amazing for naps,” she admits.

Dining Chairs, Bertoia; Chandelier, West Elm; White Vase, Hugo McCloud x MOCA; Art (near back door) by Cecilia Vissers.

Beyond the expansive living area, the sun-drenched kitchen boasts two floating storage units and a door leading out to the backyard. Above the cabinets, a large neon sign reads “Winner Winner”—an inside joke between Fennoy and her husband. When Howell is grilling chicken, Fennoy will throw a “winner winner chicken dinner” line his way. “He actually hates it when I say it,” she says, laughing. But part of her design motto is that she likes to giggle through her projects. “Whether it be my own or a client, I think that’s important,” she notes. Zidane, now 10 years old, also shares his parents’ sense of humor: He likes to say the dining bench (aka homework station) looks like it’s covered in black-eyed peas. In reality, it’s a piece of African wax cloth that has been coated in polyurethane, giving it the appearance of a painted surface. “You can spill spaghetti or art projects on it—it’s super-practical,” Fennoy adds. 

Paint (on ceiling), Benjamin Moore; Carpet Tile, Tredford via Aronson’s Floor Covering; Bunk Bed, Oeuf; Desk, Blu Dot; Checkered Pillows and Sheets, Little Sleepies; Sconce, Schoolhouse; Print by Camilla Perkins.

Continuing her patient approach, Fennoy moved onto Zidane’s room, eventually replacing the crumbling tile around his fireplace with marble and hanging a Camilla Perkins print over the mantel—a nod to his favorite color, red. He also happens to be her most easygoing client to-date. “He’s the most complimentary kid on the planet,” says Fennoy. If designing didn’t already feel natural to her when she was his age, it does now. 

The Goods