We love anything that shines and if it changes color,” says Ada Davila of the two-level home in East Williamsburg that she and her husband, Agustin Hurtado, whom everybody calls “Chango,” have spent the past 16 years remaking (and then remaking again). Specifically, she was referring to the family’s Geometrix Da Vinci chandelier from Schonbek, which sparkles over their dining-room table. The house, which the two artists share with their three kids, two rescue dogs, two rescue cats, and a rescue hamster, is alive with the couple’s bright-hued obsessions.
The building originally stabled the horses that were used to deliver beer for the adjacent brewery. Much later, artists used it for studio space, but it was practically uninhabitable when they bought it in 2004. Davila, who had been living in the West Village, was five months pregnant with their first child, Hugo, and Hurtado had been living in a loft in Hell’s Kitchen, which he sold to help buy the family’s first home. Hurtado, who was born and raised in Mexico City, and Davila, who was born in Spain and moved to Miami at 15, knew they wanted to be in Brooklyn. “We kept looking until we found something where we could stretch our arms that was not a little brownstone with little hallways,” says Hurtado. “We found this place and saw its potential.”
There was a lot of work to get it there, though. For one thing, it was full of termites and carpenter ants. “We had to get rid of entire sections of walls and ceiling,” recalls Hurtado, a decorative painter who works with high-end interior designers. Davila credits him with realizing what she had in her head, then letting her change it up.
Davila’s artwork is inspired by ancient Hindu texts, such as the Bhagavad Gita and the Ramayana. “My paintings depict the gods and goddesses from those books,” she says. “To be happy, I need strong, happy colors around me, animals, plants, and children.”
Meanwhile, Hurtado finessed. He worried that their kids might fall on the stairs, but when he looked into the anti-slip market, “the commercial products available were so unattractive that I kept looking until I found something they use on the streets, I think, in Australia,” which is why the stairs have decorative-looking studs.
The parents occupy the first floor. Over time, the second floor was transformed into a gleaming great room spilling over into the kitchen. “I like to feed people,” says Davila. “My house is always full of teenagers. The kitchen is very important; it’s my place, my palace.” Their younger sons, Izel and Tirso, share a bedroom, and Hugo, now 15, has his own.
“I am the only woman in a house of men,” Davila says, then breaks out in a big laugh at what sounds like the title of a Federico García Lorca play. But it’s her answer as to why the bathroom is just so … pink. It’s her oasis.
*A version of this article appears in the December 21, 2020, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!