Real Estate

Interior Designer Jennifer Hunter Talks About Traditional Design And Her Career

After years of cold, stark modern aesthetics, traditional design is back in a major way. No one knows this more than Jennifer Hunter. The incredibly talented designer is a master of timeless looks—all while putting her own spin on things like mounting a pink surfboard feet from a classic scalloped coffee table. From bold colors to clean kitchens and anything Palm Beach, there really isn’t anything Hunter can’t do.

I recently spoke with the interior designer to learn about her career journey, what she thinks of current design trends, her favorite places to shop, the art of mixing prints and so much more.

Amanda Lauren: What was your journey to becoming an interior designer?

Jennifer Hunter: I knew from a very young age that I wanted to do something with design. I grew up in a development and real estate family. So as a little girl, I was around construction sites and observed all the details that went into each building. This fascination led me to attend a five-year architecture program at the University of Texas at Austin.

I had the privilege to intern for the great Albert Hadley during the summers. During my second summer with Mr. Hadley, I asked his advice about my career path. He strongly suggested I attend the master’s program in American Fine and Decorative Arts at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, as I was lacking historical knowledge of decorative arts. From there, I helped Harry Heissmann open his design office, then started a firm with a business partner before opening Jennifer Hunter Design four years ago.

Lauren: Can you describe your personal style?

Hunter: I would describe my personal style as traditional but seen through fresh eyes. It is equal parts tailored and eclectic, glamorous and relaxed, bold and subtle. It is this unique balance that I strive for in every project.

Lauren: Why do you think traditional styles are currently making a big comeback?

Hunter: I think classic design is always in. However, I am thrilled to see that traditional design is making a comeback! I think designers and clients alike are drawn to the playful patterns, bolder color palettes, and classic silhouettes of more traditional furniture.

Lauren: What do you think of trends like new traditional and grand millennial, or as some people say, coastal grandmother?

Hunter: It definitely has been fun to see how these trends have incorporated traditional design, but with a playful twist. I think personally I am just glad to see the shift away from minimal and sterile design.

Lauren: What are some of your favorite non-trade places to source furniture and decor?

Hunter: I like Chairish, Serena and Lily, Scout and Nimble, and Annie Selke.

Lauren: What are some items or elements you think every traditional home needs?

Hunter: I think every traditional home needs really good bones, including hardware, doors, and moldings. It’s all about pairing the bones with foundational pieces like art, an heirloom case piece, or a vintage Oushak rug that will spur the rest of the design. From there, one can build all the layers in, including a fabulous floral print, a classic ticking stripe, a timeless paint color, and meaningful accessory items.

Lauren: What are some traditional design trends you think we’ll see in the coming year?

Hunter: I am thinking we will see lots of traditional design trends, but with a little edge. For example floral patterns, but in an oversized scale or bolder recoloration. When it comes to renovations and builds, our clients are requesting more trims and moldings. This is everything from a multi-piece, built-up crown to the addition of picture molding and paneling. And with that, we are getting requests for painting the trims and moldings an accent color.

Lauren: Are there any design trends on their way out in 2023?

Hunter: Minimalism and the no-color look will be on their way out [of style].

Lauren: You’re exceptionally talented when it comes to mixing patterns. This generally isn’t an easy feat and can often look muddy or loud. Can you please share some of your best tips for doing this?

Hunter: When it comes to mixing patterns you have to strike a balance of both color and scale. For example, if I do a large-scale floral pattern in very saturated colors, I will try to pair it with a small-scale pinstripe in a more muted tone.

Lauren: What are some of the biggest challenges in the interior design industry right now?

Hunter: While things have improved, we are still feeling the repercussions of supply chain issues. This trickles down the most when it comes to our new-builds or gut renovation projects because while we have mastered our go-to vendors, we are reliant on our contractors and some of the materials they use during construction. You just have to be flexible and able to shift gears at the drop of a hat.

Lauren: Is there a recent project you’re particularly proud of?

Hunter: I am very proud of our Bronxville project. We took this project on during the height of the pandemic and was able to design a dream home for our clients. They wanted a sophisticated design, yet family-friendly that incorporated tons of color and playful patterns.

The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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