Kenzie Leon Perry’s home is very Miami: lush details, vibrant artwork, and rich culture practically seep from the walls. But, it also tells his own unique story. Perry, the creative director and founder of Ze Haus Design Studio, was born and brought up in the Magic City, spent half of his career in the Caribbean, and studied music and interior design.
So, it makes sense that when he first saw his 1400-square-foot abode—just a structure of cinder blocks and basic framing at the time—he took the same brave and creative approach he had his whole life. The new construction and prime location in his hometown drew him in. And he’s since used the home as an artistic vessel, coating it in hand-painted murals, textured throws, and earthy hues.
Ahead, Perry shares more about his favorite upcycled pieces, his love of the tropics, and his soulful design approach.
Does your home fit in with your neighborhood's vibe or does it stand out?
Kenzie Leon Perry: My home is located in a neighborhood called Buena Vista West, located south of Little Haiti and north of the Miami Design District. Buena Vista is primarily a residential neighborhood with historic single-family homes primarily from the 1920s. Existing homes include Mediterranean Revival, Mission, Craftsmen, and Art Deco architecture-style residences. I consider my home to have a simple ranch-style facade, with a Mediterranean-style roof and traditional shotgun floor plan. It blends with the existing homes but has a slightly modern uptick.
What was your approach to decorating your home?
KLP: When I first began designing the interiors for my home, I didn’t readily have a concept. I drafted a solid furniture layout, but the aesthetics evolved organically. My initial approach was to furnish the home with foundational pieces, like a sofa, a few console or storage credenza pieces, a dining and coffee table, and chairs.
I blended old and new pieces together to give my space character and a curated vibe. Most of the old pieces were furniture that I upcycled, refinished, and upholstered myself, purchased from online marketplaces from previous owners, or inherited family heirlooms.
It wasn’t until I painted the first mural in my home, inspired by nature, that I coined my style TropicArt Nuvo. From then on, I decided to paint murals in multiple spaces, many of which have inspired wallpapers and fabrics that I design and sell online. I still have a lot more house to infuse my design style into, but I only implement upgrades when I am inspired. I like my design to be lucid and ever-evolving.
Who or what are your biggest design inspirations?
KLP: Nature is my biggest design inspiration. Every space I’ve completed in my home has a botanical motif. I am always snapping pictures of flowers, trees, and the sky when I’m out and about. I also tend to incorporate botanical pieces in my decor, such as driftwood, rocks, dried coconuts, and live plant cuttings from my garden. Sheila Bridges, Bryan Mason and Jeanine Hays of Aphrochic, and Jungalow designer Justina Blakeney are a few of my biggest design inspirations.
What elements from the Caribbean do you incorporate in your home?
KLP: I worked in the Caribbean as a resort designer for five-and-a-half years, and I fell in love with both the lush, tropical landscapes and the Caribbean culture. Both bring awareness of color, tradition, and craftsmanship to my creative process. The elements I incorporate into my home the most are color and nature.
Any other cultures you take design notes from?
KLP: I find inspiration from all cultures, but you will find several artifacts and accessories such as masks, beads, and trinkets from African and Latin countries and influences, too.
What were the greatest finds in your home? Can you share a story behind any of them?
KLP: There are a lot of great finds in my home, but my favorite is the apothecary-style console I upcycled, which I found at a secondhand store. The facade has faux panel drawers which I painted black, and I added gold library cabinet pulls, modern legs, and a marble stone top. With a little bit of elbow grease and creative imagination, the entire unit cost me less than $150.
Do you have a favorite design feature or room? If so, where is it in the house and what makes it unique?
KLP: My favorite room in my home is my bedroom because I spend a lot of time in the space—eating, sleeping, lounging, and watching TV. It has great natural light since it’s located at the front of the house with southern exposure. My favorite feature in the space is the dusty rose-colored wall and black trim, and the hand-painted wall mural consisting of dancing silhouettes with a white gardenia in the center. This space blurs the lines of masculine and feminine aesthetics.
Can you share the inspiration behind Ze Haus Design Studio?
KLP: My design inspiration coined “Tropic Art Nuvo” is inspired by the tropics with emphasis on artistic elements such as hand-painted murals and custom wallpaper designs, blended with eclectic styling featuring bold colors, prints, and furniture. My mission is to bring awareness to the culture and influences of the Black diaspora—locally and internationally—and to create art and design spaces that inspire the soul.