The story of Dan Pelosi’s character- and color-filled Brooklyn home is an example of why it’s wise to never say never.
The creative director had arrived in New York City several years ago and, in a stroke of luck, landed a place in the West Village that was so sweet, he swore that’s where he’d stay. Only one thing could get him to uproot himself: The promise of a dining room table.
“I swore I’d never leave,” Pelosi says. “But then, I saw a photo of a beautiful Bedford-Stuyvesant apartment posted by a friend on Facebook, and suddenly I was asking myself if I should move to Brooklyn.”
He reached out, and found that the place belonged to a friend of a friend and the images had been posted a mere 10 minutes before. A quick phone call led to a viewing, which led to the signing of a lease.
Pelosi was attracted to the neighborhood and its diverse atmosphere. But what really sealed the deal and filled the moving van was the apartment’s dining room. By day, Pelosi is creative director in charge of the store experience at Ann Taylor, Loft, and Lou & Grey. But after hours he is an enthusiastic cook and host.
“I love cooking and getting a large group of friends together. My last place was small, and we’d end up sitting on the sofa with plates in our laps,” he says.
“In fact, just before I saw the photos online, I told a friend that I’d consider moving to Brooklyn if I could just have room for a [giant dining] table. This place is the upper two levels of a brownstone, and it has a dining room. When I saw the photos, I thought, ‘Oh shit, I just manifested this place.’”
Once a person manifests a dining room, the next logical step is to conjure a dining table. “It was important for me to design this piece for myself,” Pelosi says. “I wanted to make the legs more inset, so I could gather a lot of people around the table without anyone’s knees hitting a leg. We can seat 14 people, but 12 people feels just right.” Pelosi worked with Brad Miller of Bronx Woodworks, an old friend, to create the piece.
Once friends prepare to take a seat, they have options. “Over the years, I’ve assembled a collection of pairs of chairs,” says Pelosi. “My friends can pick the best chair for them, as different body types are comfortable in different seats. It makes dinner parties a more democratic experience.”
While sitting at the table, friends are treated to more than Pelosi’s hospitality—they are confronted by colorful art on a display wall, a collection this Rhode Island School of Design grad has spent years building. Most of the pieces are from former classmates and friends, such as Shara Hughes. “I’m not attracted by anonymous artwork I see in an antique store. If I know who the designer is, then the work takes on more meaning for me,” says Pelosi.
In every sense, the art wall (and the apartment, for that matter) was assembled by intuition. “I’ve always felt that if I just buy what I like, then it will all go together because it’s my aesthetic,” Pelosi says. “As for hanging the art, I laid it out on the floor in front of the wall, and then just started nailing. They are all hung randomly, and some are hung a little imperfectly. I don’t do perfect, and it gives the space a relaxed feeling.”
That comfortable, colorful atmosphere spreads throughout the rest of the home. In the kitchen, a row of color-coded cookbooks sits atop cabinets and a vintage turquoise dome light fixture hangs over the island. Two stools with bright-blue geometric frames sit in front of the counter, the work of friend and collaborator Eric Trine.
Across from the island, Pelosi has established what he calls his prop library, open shelving with a variety of serving ware he uses to plate and photograph his culinary creations. Naturally, it’s color-coded as well. The mantel of the fireplace here has been reimagined as a wet bar, with the philosophy that cooking and a cold drink go hand-in-hand. “I live in my kitchen and it’s my happy place,” says Pelosi. “Most weekends I spend my days there cooking, planning parties, and baking treats. I’m not a pro chef, but lots of my friends work in food and it’s a big part of my social life.”
If the dining room is the life of the party, then the living room might be considered a place of quiet (yet colorful) respite. Comfortable furniture, layers of plush rugs and a jungle of green plants populate the space.
“This is my dream sofa and the leather, which is the color of a tray of brownies, just keeps getting better with age,” Pelosi says. “I started layering the rugs, and they feel amazing when you walk on them.”
The only non-white room is the bathroom, which is painted a blush color Pelosi originally picked for Lou & Grey dressing rooms. “You literally glow when you are in there,” he says. “It’s so satisfying to look in there and see the giant plants against the paint color—I want to live there.”
Color could be considered the ribbon that ties the spaces together. “Color attracts me in a big way,” Pelosi says. “I have to laugh when stylists and designers talk about a single pop of color—my entire home is pops of color.”
That feeling of being in his element is the whole point. “My friends make fun of me because I don’t want to leave my house—but I think that should be the goal,” Pelosi says. “The world can be depressing and isolating. I think your home should be inspiring and relaxing.”