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Tour a Textile Maven’s Chic and Airy Brooklyn Town House

Tour a Textile Maven’s Chic and Airy Brooklyn Town House
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Patience is key in New York real estate. For Jenni Li, the owner of Peruvian textiles bazaar Intiearth, the search for the Brooklyn home she shares with daughter Taylor, 20, and sons Son, 11, and Harmony, 7, was a prolonged one. “We looked for a long time,” she says. “A lot of things that were on the market needed to be gut renovated.” With three kids and a busy business, a full-scale renovation simply wasn’t possible. But after a long stream of open houses, Jenni found the perfect spot: a charming, move-in ready townhome complete with the most coveted of all New York amenities, a backyard.

A major remodel wasn’t needed, but Jenni did remove several walls to open up the home and improve the flow. “It’s an old town house, so there were a lot of small rooms with hallways on the side,” she explains. The garden level became a large open-concept space that includes the kitchen, living, and dining areas and serves as the main hangout spot. She also painted everything from floor to ceiling white, creating a sense of light and air not commonly found in the city. “I wanted to make a white box,” she says. “It’s kind of secret that you don’t expect from the outside. It’s a big contrast from the exterior.”

The blank canvas gave Jenni the opportunity to introduce bursts of vibrant color through art and her collections of Peruvian textiles and accents. “I just like the contrast of having something really white and calm and peaceful, and then having a little pop of bright color brought in,” she says. “You can change the mood of a room with these colorful things.” And the mood changes often, Jenni admits. “I like to move furniture and change things up.”

The home is made for kids, complete with an art station, a chalkboard wall, and a treehouse, but Jenni says she doesn’t set out to design specifically family-friendly spaces, focusing instead on easy pieces that fit with her eclectic aesthetic. “I try to make everything functional,” she says. But in the end, she adds, “I just kind of did what felt good and what I liked.”

The living area is awash in light and filled with cozy spots to curl up and relax. “The sofa is very comfortable,” Jenni says. “That was a requirement, actually.” To perk up the white space she used soft pinks, including a painting by her friend Meghan Petras and a frazada, or Peruvian rug, from Intiearth, which she draped over the Indian daybed that serves as a coffee table.

The living area is awash in light and filled with cozy spots to curl up and relax. “The sofa is very comfortable,” Jenni says. “That was a requirement, actually.” To perk up the white space she used soft pinks, including a painting by her friend Meghan Petras and a frazada, or Peruvian rug, from Intiearth, which she draped over the Indian daybed that serves as a coffee table.

The family gathers around the dining table for nightly dinners and homework, and stools get pulled up to accommodate a crowd. “I really like the round table,” Jenni says. “I just feel like it brings people together.”

The family gathers around the dining table for nightly dinners and homework, and stools get pulled up to accommodate a crowd. “I really like the round table,” Jenni says. “I just feel like it brings people together.”

People love to come over to our house because we like to cook. Most of our parties are centered around the brick oven in the backyard.

— Jenni Li
A slab of marble previously used for still-life photo shoots was transformed into a rolling kitchen island. Because the house is relatively narrow, Jenni wanted to have the option to move the island rather than install it in a fixed location. “In a small space, it’s really important that you don’t have a lot of things that feel heavy or weighted or cluttered,” she says. “I like a room to feel open and pretty minimalist.”

A slab of marble previously used for still-life photo shoots was transformed into a rolling kitchen island. Because the house is relatively narrow, Jenni wanted to have the option to move the island rather than install it in a fixed location. “In a small space, it’s really important that you don’t have a lot of things that feel heavy or weighted or cluttered,” she says. “I like a room to feel open and pretty minimalist.”

Jenni used colored tape to turn a wall of cabinets into a gallery for her children’s artwork. “It’s always changing,” she says. “We take stuff down and put new stuff up.” A large dreamcatcher from Peru hangs beside a bundle of sage, from Jenni’s farm upstate, which was turned into sage sticks at Son’s birthday party.

Jenni used colored tape to turn a wall of cabinets into a gallery for her children’s artwork. “It’s always changing,” she says. “We take stuff down and put new stuff up.” A large dreamcatcher from Peru hangs beside a bundle of sage, from Jenni’s farm upstate, which was turned into sage sticks at Son’s birthday party.

“I always try to have an art station for the kids in the central living area,” explains Jenni, who set up a spot for painting and drawing complete with a chalkboard wall. “That is the one kid-friendly aspect that I make sure to integrate in.”

“I always try to have an art station for the kids in the central living area,” explains Jenni, who set up a spot for painting and drawing complete with a chalkboard wall. “That is the one kid-friendly aspect that I make sure to integrate in.”

Hats and bags from Jenni’s online textiles shop, Intiearth, hang on a carved coatrack besides a photograph by Hans Gissinger in the entryway. “We don’t wear shoes in the house, so everybody has a basket they put their shoes in.”

Hats and bags from Jenni’s online textiles shop, Intiearth, hang on a carved coatrack besides a photograph by Hans Gissinger in the entryway. “We don’t wear shoes in the house, so everybody has a basket they put their shoes in.”

The art is always evolving. A lot of it is personal work, my kids’ or friends’ artwork, or vintage finds. I’m always moving it around.

— Jenni Li
Jenni wanted to keep her home office simple, so she furnished the space with a clean-lined desk and a modern chair. She also installed an inspiration-packed gallery wall filled with photography, paintings, and family snapshots. “I always like big walls of different art,” she says. “Wherever we’ve lived I always try to do a collage of artwork.”

Jenni wanted to keep her home office simple, so she furnished the space with a clean-lined desk and a modern chair. She also installed an inspiration-packed gallery wall filled with photography, paintings, and family snapshots. “I always like big walls of different art,” she says. “Wherever we’ve lived I always try to do a collage of artwork.”

Peruvian frazadas—just a few of Jenni’s colorful wares—are stacked in the office closet and laid on the floor.

Peruvian frazadas—just a few of Jenni’s colorful wares—are stacked in the office closet and laid on the floor.

One of Jenni’s favorite pieces in the house is the portrait of family and friends that hangs in a hallway above a vintage Chinese chest. “It just kind of captured everybody so perfectly,” she says.

One of Jenni’s favorite pieces in the house is the portrait of family and friends that hangs in a hallway above a vintage Chinese chest. “It just kind of captured everybody so perfectly,” she says.

The family’s dog, Noa, relaxes in the master bedroom amid cozy alpaca pillows and throws that Jenni sourced for Intiearth. “I always use white linen for the bed,” Jenni says. “It’s just so clean and soothing. It feels great in winter and summer, and I think it looks even prettier when it’s wrinkly.” She scored the settee for $100 and recovered it in a natural linen.

The family’s dog, Noa, relaxes in the master bedroom amid cozy alpaca pillows and throws that Jenni sourced for Intiearth. “I always use white linen for the bed,” Jenni says. “It’s just so clean and soothing. It feels great in winter and summer, and I think it looks even prettier when it’s wrinkly.” She scored the settee for $100 and recovered it in a natural linen.

Twin beds line a wall in Son and Harmony’s room. “That was the best way to fit them in the space,” she says. “I’m not into bunk beds, and I feel that it promotes brotherly bonding.” She also installed shelves above each bed for toys and books. “They do their own curating on their bookshelf.”

Twin beds line a wall in Son and Harmony’s room. “That was the best way to fit them in the space,” she says. “I’m not into bunk beds, and I feel that it promotes brotherly bonding.” She also installed shelves above each bed for toys and books. “They do their own curating on their bookshelf.”

Orange fouta towels and a geometric rug add a splash of color to the kids’ bathroom.

Orange fouta towels and a geometric rug add a splash of color to the kids’ bathroom.

Jenni relaxes in the backyard with Son, Harmony, and Noa. She likes to pile colorful pillows and sheepskin throws on the cedar bench and the Adirondack chair for comfort and to connect them to the interior space. “I always outfit the outdoor space to make it feel cozy and inviting,” she says. “We do a fire pit in the winter and have string lights for when it gets dark.

Jenni relaxes in the backyard with Son, Harmony, and Noa. She likes to pile colorful pillows and sheepskin throws on the cedar bench and the Adirondack chair for comfort and to connect them to the interior space. “I always outfit the outdoor space to make it feel cozy and inviting,” she says. “We do a fire pit in the winter and have string lights for when it gets dark.

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