Jennifer Herwitt admits that she’s one of those people you invite over for dinner who ends up moving a few things around to make a whole new space. “I cannot remember a time when I would walk into a room and not want to rearrange it,” she says. “I’ve been working in interior design since I was 3 and playing interior designer for Barbie!” Herwitt’s had “lots of schooling” — degrees in interior design, fine arts and women’s studies from Syracuse University; graduate school in Florence, Italy, where she studied metal smithing and art history; photography and environmental design at Parsons in New York. She moved to L.A. in 1990 and started her company, Jennifer Herwitt Interiors. She also began working as a set decorator in films such as Apt Pupil. Besides designing two to three homes a year, Herwitt is launching a jewelry line called Living Jewels in the spring, and manages to keep even busier art directing commercials and music videos — many of her clients started out as colleagues. “To me interior design is all about really living in each room. It is about creating a space as well as a feeling. I work one-on-one with each client to make sure that the environments we create incorporate all of their needs and express an overall sense of unity.”
Jennifer Herwitt Interiors, (213) 220-8698 or www.herwitt.com.
Design philosophy: Interior design, at its best, is the balance of art and the principles of design that create functional environments with distinctive aesthetics. I feel it is my job to help my clients create their own personal style. What I try to take away from our meetings is a sense of how they aspire to live. This is how I begin to create. I try to design spaces with soul, spaces that look lived in. The best compliments I have ever received about the homes I created is that it did not look like a decorator had been there. They commented on how I had captured the feeling and aesthetic of my clients. I think interior design fails when a beautiful environment is created that does not speak of or to the people it was created for. When interior designers have a specific style, you lose the most important part, in my mind. What makes me a good designer is being able to translate the needs and wants for my clients into their style, not mine.
What did you want to accomplish with your design on this project? I wanted to make the space more open and airy. Nora asked that we open the space up and make it brighter. I feel great about being able to give Andres, Nora, Eric and Andres Jr. the space they need, without neglecting the importance of how the room is used. It is a happy space, the room they spend the majority of their time in. I clicked with the family immediately. They are warm and the sweetest people. I knew in my gut what I needed to do and how to make it work. It is all about simplicity, color and texture.
What are the questions people should ask themselves before starting to redo a room or a home? I think it is important to express your life through how you live it. Take chances and have fun. Take your time when starting the design process. Remember it is a process. And I think it’s most important to understand what you want from an interior designer, if you’re using one. After you fully assess your needs and your budget, I always recommend my clients gather photographs from magazines and books. This is a quick way to communicate your likes and dislikes. I think it is also important to decide whether they are interested in a collaborative process, or are they looking for strong direction? Do they want a wide range of budgetary choices? This helps set up a good working relationship. Also, you should consider what will add value, not only to the house but to your lives. I also think it’s important to make sure you love what you are doing. If you are not in love with the changes you are making, maybe you should wait until you come up with something you are taken with. What style do you want your home to be? This will be a reflection on your life, and it colors the way we feel every day. I am a fan of simplicity. I try to find the balance between modern design and the classics. My best recommendation — do not overdesign.
Shopping tips: The great thing about L.A. is that there are so many wonderful places to shop. Civilization has an amazing variety of beautiful and eclectic furnishings with an incredible staff to match. Westwood Carpets has a fantastic assortment of incredible carpets and hardwood flooring. I just want to live amongst all of their magical Fortuny lamps and trimmings upstairs at Diamond.
While a few pieces made the transition — such as the love seat, Andres and Nora’s wedding picture, various glass tchotchkes — most everything else was new, and from IKEA. For the Rolons’ needs and the money, it proved one of the best places to shop. Jennifer also exchanged the Rolons’ fridge for a smaller one that fit under the kitchen cabinets, gaining not only more room but additional drawer and shelf space.
From IKEA (all prices without sales tax)
Nesting tables, $49.99
Side chair, $99.99
Side chair cushion, $50
Ottoman cushion, $25
Floor lamp, $34.99
Table lamp, $24.99
Curtains, $12.99 (set of two)
Blue glass bowl, $6.99
Blue glass vase, $2.99
Pot for plant, $5.99
4 small plants, $2 each
Pots for small plants, 75 cents each
4 black frames with plant images, $31.96
A pack of photo images, $4
Two floating wall shelves, $14.99 each
Kitchen table chairs, $29.99
Photo frames, $4.99 for four frames
Two picture frames, $19.99 each
Glass frame, $4.99
Clear frames, $7.99 for four
Pre-framed art, $19.99
Entertainment center, $129
Wall clock, $9.99
Paint and supplies, $50.09 from Home Depot
Fur pillows, $14.99 for two from Bed Bath & Beyond
Kitchen table, tea lights and kitchen mat, $27 from www.craigslist.com
Bonsai plant, $4 from a garage sale
TOTAL: $999.71 (with tax)