space of the week

Family Time Is All the Time

A creative couple has improvised a new daily rhythm — a hybrid of work and play — as they quarantine with their sons.

Photo: David A. Land
Photo: David A. Land

We are trying to adhere to a schedule of breakfast, relaxation, school, lunch, recess — a bike ride or a stroll around the neighborhood — then more work, then some fun,” says author and editor Rumaan Alam of the daily routine he and his husband, photographer , have created for their sons, Simon, 10, and Xavier, 7. But there’s always room for improvisation. “Yesterday, for example,” Alam says, “I baked a cake for no reason, then there was a big storm so we just watched TV for 90 minutes.” Quarantine or not, their cozy two-story, turn-of-the-century brick house in Crown Heights has always been a hub of shared family activities, including cooking, puzzle solving, Lego building, reading, and, of course, simply hanging out.

In the living room, some of the family’s books are stored in blue étagères found at . The vintage sofa belonged to Land’s grandfather. “We just had it reupholstered again,” says Alam. “It gets a lot of wear.” The Otomi blanket is from Mexico, and the portrait of Martin Luther King Jr. was found on eBay. “The large painting is based on a painted photograph on display in the Jaipur City Palace,” says Alam. “We loved it so much we commissioned this copy.” Photo: David A. Land
“This is Xavier’s designated seat,” Alam says of a spot in the corner of the living room. “He’ll often just sit there and listen to a podcast and look out the window. The animal paintings in the background are tin panels meant to decorate bicycle rickshaws; we bought them in Bangladesh. The Paul McCobb credenza was found on eBay, and the gold tree is from .” Photo: David A. Land
Simon and Xavier share a room. Says Alam, “Xavier’s current obsession is printing pictures of Godzilla, coloring them in, and taping them on the wall over his bed.” The bunk beds are from , and the clay elephants hanging by the window are from Bangladesh. Photo: David A. Land/Copyright 2020. All rights reserved.
“Simon is quickly outgrowing this little pouf that David bought in South Africa, but he still loves to read there,” says Alam. The removable wall covering is by , and the wooden giraffe, “a gift from a dear friend,” is by . The painting is vintage. The Martin Luther King Jr. picture is a classroom decoration. Photo: David A. Land/Copyright 2020. All rights reserved.
The dining room, with its pink-painted vintage dining table, is the “nerve center of the house,” Alam says. “It’s a playroom, an art studio, and now both an office and a schoolroom.” Photo: David A. Land
Alam’s office doubles as a dressing room and lounge area. The sculpture is an edition of a Kehinde Wiley made for and bought at auction. The wallpaper is from , and the red lamp is from . Photo: David A. Land
Alam’s , whose cover is pictured here, will be out in the fall. Meanwhile, Land’s documenting the creative community with portraits and photographs of their home interiors could easily include his own place — and the minutiae of his creative family making the very best of their quarantine time together.

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Family Time Is All the Time