Interior Designer Q&A with Jennifer Cohler Mason
For the first installment of The Elves’ Edit Q&A, New York City-based interior designer Jennifer Cohler Mason shares everything from what she can’t live without in her own home to design tips for people with pets to her own secret work desire. Hint: It would be fabulous!
Great interior designers shape their clients lives. Mario Buatta thought of interiors as “backdrops for living.” How do you see what you do?
Jennifer: I loved Mario. I knew him well for many years. Although our styles are different, I agree that interiors are the backdrops of our lives. But they are no longer precious stage sets used only for formal living. Today interiors are highly functional and meant to be lived in. The days of formal living and dining rooms are largely over. Great rooms rule, and even when separate dining and living rooms exist, especially in larger homes, they tend to be used more and are less precious and formal than they used to be. Durability of fabrics, rugs and table finishes are very important, and those dedicated spaces can make even a weekday dinner or cocktail hour into something really special. So I guess the short answer is that I create unique rooms tailored to each client’s lifestyle that they are not afraid to actually live in.
What changes do you see in the future of home/interior design in light of the pandemic?
Jennifer: The pandemic has changed a few things in home design. Our clients are investing more in creating livable outdoor spaces that are an extension of their home. Inspiring home offices and work areas are no longer a perk, but rather a necessity, as people are continuing to work from home. I don’t see that changing any time soon. The other big change is the importance of the home gym and technology like smart fitness machines and mirrors.
Name something that you can’t live without that helps keep you stay clean and organized in your own home.
Jennifer: Closets, closets, and more closets! Customized organization is paramount. Sectioned drawers and locking jewelry drawers are a must. I recommend California Closets or the Container Store for people who want to DIY their closets. Of course, what good is all of that if a closet is dusty? So making sure they are regularly cleaned is just as important.
What are your go to strategies for designing for families or people with pets?
Jennifer: We source high performance durable textiles. Today’s high performance products are not your grandma’s performance fabrics – they are beautiful, soft and baby’s bottom worthy. Even collectible vintage upholstered pieces become worry free. We did the living room of a 5th Avenue apartment in all mid-century pieces. I had the two rare vintage Vladimir Kagan sofas we found reupholstered in a white high performance Perennials fabric that is resistant to even red wine! It can be bleached if necessary! Amazing. Some other high performance favorites are from Holly Hunt and Larson. We also fiber-shield all carpets and rugs.
What was the most impractical element you’ve ever sourced or designed for a project but just had to include?
Jennifer: Rugs and fabrics that are all viscose or contain a high percentage of viscose, they are impossible to clean! We only use them for clients without small children. Even water will stain them.
Biggest influence in design
I love the mid-century designers of the past – Kagan and Saarinen are among the many that influence me.
I would love to have a vintage design store!
Dream home locale
Biggest home cleaning / organization pet peeve
When people dust around things rather than picking them up and cleaning the entire surface.
Also keeping closets, pantry, and cabinets clean and organized.
See more of Jennifer’s interior design projects in NYC, the Hamptons, and Connecticut on J Cohler Mason Design’s website.