A MoMA Collection Specialist Lives Amid Her Art in Her Brooklyn Apartment


“I really didn’t have any other parameters other than ‘prewar,’” says Kayla Dalle Molle, collection specialist at the MoMA, of her hunt to find her next home. On a Bed-Stuy street chock-full of Victorian-style row houses sat an 1892 brownstone with the sort of iconic period details any history buff or design lover would fawn over. But the hand-carved crown moldings and 10-foot ceilings weren’t the only reason the art researcher felt drawn to the space. After moving back to the city following a short stint in Connecticut, Kayla’s tolerance for clichéd horrible apartments was nonexistent. “I knew what Manhattan had to offer and I knew what I could afford,” quips Kayla of the harsh reality of New York City real estate; “I’ve already lived in a classic dungeon-like space.”

Her fireplace, sanctified with candles purchased from Alive Herbal, nests under a mantel showcasing the best of Renaissance 19th-century revival style. In the forefront placed neatly atop a Morgan Spaulding acrylic coffee table lies one of many glass-blown vases in Kayla’s home. This one she purchased from G. Brian Juk, the resident glassblower at the Corning Museum of Glass.

Cue the opulent apartment that most definitely warrants a double take. It’s no shock that Kayla, a researcher by trade, was able to secure the first apartment she saw, as she was in fact “very prepared.” “My work follows me into every facet of my life,” she half-jokes of her role at the famous museum. “It can be funny but also burdensome.” She was able, however, to set aside her analytical nature for one quite important task: the design process.

Thinking outside the box, Kayla strayed from typical design rules by bringing an outdoor table indoors. Purchased from Hay, the table acts as the centerpiece for a mashup of modern chairs that make for an interesting exchange with the rest of the apartment’s decor.

“People can get kind of myopic about where they shop,” says the collection specialist. “I’d maybe offer advice on being open to shopping in unexpected places.” Case in point: the wooden pegboard hanging in the kitchen, found at Maisonette, a children’s boutique.

Equipped with years’ worth of memorable pieces, Kayla was able to fill the majority of the space with decor as decadent as the home she now occupies. Allowing her intuition to act as her “internal arbiter of taste,” reason and rationality were tabled—for a moment at least. After she bolstered that intuition with “cold hard facts,” Kayla’s home slowly but surely came to be the space we see now. Well, almost. “These images were taken a month ago and the space looks completely different.” And so goes the life of a maximalist looking to quench an object-loving thirst. A self-proclaimed “scavenger,” Kayla has stocked up on eye-catching collectibles. From a complete set of William Nicholson’s ‘An Alphabet’ (1897–98) hanging proudly over her Ronan and Erwin Bouroullec’s Palissade Table for Hay, to the 1970s wool tapestry by Dutch artist Karel Appel she purchased at auction and now has doubling as a rug, Kayla’s collection of art is one for the ages.

Front and center sits Kayla’s latest project: upcycling furniture. Awaiting its final coat of resin, the stunning blue beauty will be one of many for sale in the (hopefully) near future.

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