Photography by Amy Bartlam
From fashion to beauty to interior design, from New York City to sunny Los Angeles, Jenn Feldman’s career path has been a colorful one. What started with a win in an Oprah Winfrey design contest in 2007 led to the launch of Feldman’s interior design firm, which has since morphed into one of LA’s finest.
How did you get started in design?
I studied art history, studio art, and psychology at Michigan State University, but, interestingly, I never thought of design as a field I could thrive in. Design, color, and objects were always my passion—something that I knew organically and was very connected to, but I didn’t understand the translation into a career path until much later in life. I designed my first home in Beverly Hills, and I submitted photos to a callout in Oprah’s home magazine. The next thing I knew, Nate Berkus was at my door saying I won. Oprah really does change lives; I can speak from experience!
You describe your design style as “sophisticated, timeless, and bespoke.” How do you incorporate this trademark into all of your projects?
I always like to think of a project as a trifecta. It’s our job to merge the client’s wishes, the objective design needs of the house, and the Jenn Feldman Design DNA together. Somehow in that unique recipe, we have created a trademark that comes to the forefront of each project.
You previously worked in the fashion and beauty industries. Are there similarities between those worlds and working in design?
There are so many similarities—the beauty business is all about packaging and selling units that work together. Fashion is all about color, texture, and finding the right fit and the right shape. I think it all marries together in interior design. Design is form and function at its finest.
What did you carry over from your experiences in those industries?
The personal connection that exists between people and products. I always ask my clients, “How do you want to feel?” Do they like to curl up in a chair in the morning and drink coffee? Do they like to gather around an island and have a party? I consider my job a portal to those emotions in the environments we create.
What inspires you the most? Do you have a favorite part of designing?
Travel, film, fashion, flea markets, and art. I’m always looking at art. I’m constantly inspired by the found and the fabricated. I love to see what someone makes, and I love to see what I can find on a treasure hunt. If I’m ever lost, you’ll probably find me at the very end of a tiny alley at the bottom of a Parisian flea market. In a past life, I’m sure I was selling lamps in an artist’s village next to Picasso’s studio.
How do you mix styles together to create a unified look—one that achieves that high-low quality you’re known for?
Hmmm … should I tell you? [Laughs] I wish there was a perfect secret sauce. I always think of the design process like I imagine a songwriter writes a song. There are highs and lows and an interesting story being told, a repeating chorus, and a rhythm that beats throughout to make it all come together. I design the same way.
It’s also about scale and spatial planning: you can’t cut corners on how large the space is for a proper rug or how many windows a room has for correctly tailored drapery. If you can dress the bones of the space properly, the rest of the items fall into place.
Tell us about the gallery wall in the foyer in this LA project. What was your vision for this entrance?
There can never be too much art in a home! It was actually my client’s idea when we were debating what would look best on the wall. I remember her saying, “Well, can’t we just use the whole wall and put all of the art here?” That was all I needed to hear. I love when a client goes out of their comfort zone and allows the process to happen. It’s one of my favorite projects to this day.
This interior is very bright. How was this achieved?
Although the house already had plenty of natural light flowing into it, don’t ever underestimate the power of clean white paint and upgraded overhead lighting. Those two elements can completely change the way a home feels.
You played with a few different wallpapers for this project. How does this set the tone for a room?
Wallpaper adds texture and warmth to a space. It allows for there to be different feelings and emotions from room to room. Whether it’s for color, design, or just for feel, it’s always part of how my firm designs homes.
Describe some of the various rooms and how you incorporated the family’s lifestyle into them:
The playroom, otherwise known as “the blue room,” was designed to be a side den and TV room, playroom, and homework hub for the nine-year-old twin boys. This room gets tons of play and overage from the pool on swimming party days.
These amazing brothers love to be together and chose to stay in the same room when we redesigned around the “big kid” conversation. Double beds, double pillows, double bookcases, and double trouble! There’s also a sofa to sit and read on at the end of each day, or for their dog, Bear, to take a good nap. The kitchen has a large, open layout that leads into the main family room. Long countertops provide the perfect serving area for entertaining, and glass-front upper cabinets keep the space bright and clean. Beautiful pops of color come through on all the displayed china and vintage glassware (a shared passion between me and the client). We upgraded to all-new appliances and changed both the stone and backsplash tile to all white materials, making the space tonal, textural, and timeless.
What are your top design tips?
Always carry a Magic Eraser with you to an install. And order one more yard of fabric than you think you’ll need.
Is interior design a competitive industry in LA?
I like to think there’s a living room for all of us to design. But, at the end of the day, I am as much of a businesswoman as I am a creative force. It’s truly a balancing act of both sides of my brain: managing a budget and a bottom line, and coordinating schedules, timing, and production, all the while bringing fresh ideas to our clients. I’m passionate about all of it, and I love that I found a career that brings both sides of my
What does being an interior designer mean to you?
Design is in every fiber of my being, and it’s the lens through which I see the world—color, light, and creation. I’m sure I’ll continue to reinvent who I am as a designer, and what inspires me will continually change, but I like to think this wasn’t a choice for me. Design is who I am and the way I live my life.
For more info, visit jennfeldmandesigns.com