Cozy is a term we don’t take lightly. It’s the one word that immediately sparks joy and what we hope for when entering and creating our own sanctuaries. Though easier said than done, creating a warm and composed home requires a lot of thought. Rather than reinventing the wheel, why not pick the brain of someone who knows a thing or two about maximizing spaces of all kinds? Jen Levy, a creative consultant with a background in fine art, has lived nine lives and counting in the design world, from merchandising every essentialist’s favorite brand Vince to ultimate French cool girl brands Sandro and Maje. For Jen, coming home to her calm, Brooklyn apartment is essential to making sure her creative juices continue flowing. It boils down to a little industry insight and a few simple rules to live by in order to maximize a small space.
You worked for some of the most notable fashion brands. What were your jobs like? Which one was your favorite and why?
I spent most of my 20s working in corporate retail. The experience was great, I really learned everything I know from those jobs. One of my favorite companies to work for was Vince. I started working there when the brand began to really take off creatively. Vince already had a cult following and strong wholesale presence in the US. My job was to help develop the retail presence from a visual perspective. We created training tools, designed displays, and merchandised the collections every two weeks. When I started we had about 20 stores, and when I left, three years later, that count had more than doubled. It really felt like I was a part of something. I could see my impact, and I worked alongside people who had the same passion for the brand and the product. We worked hard and had a lot of fun doing it.
How has fashion merchandising influence how you’ve designed your own apartment?
For me, it’s very important for my space to be functional. I approached the design of my home in a similar way that I would approach merchandising a retail store. The things I love the most are most focal and featured on open shelving, while things that I don’t use often are stored in closets and cabinets. I’ve always appreciated a more simple design aesthetic, less-is-more sorta attitude. Don’t get me wrong, I am a collector—I have a lot of stuff. It’s just about making sure everything is in its’ right place.
How can clients work with you now that you’re freelancing?
I am currently working with retailers doing visual merchandising and shop design and have a window design, production, and installation consultancy with a friend of mine. For individuals, I am taking on interior design and organizing projects. Most of my clients reach out to me through Instagram or through referrals.
Can you share your tips for maximizing small spaces?
Yes of course! Most importantly, you have to stay organized when you live in a small space. Everything has to have a home. A proper home, not a plastic bin in the corner of the room. Clutter has been proven to cause stress and its important that your personal space is calm and comfortable.
I tend to aquire a lot of things so its easy for my space to get cluttered. I use the Marie Kondo method to clean out my closets and cabinets every now and then. The more often you do it, the easier it is to maintain. I make sure that I am only keeping items that are valuable to me in some way.
It’s also helpful to have furniture that serves multiple purposes. For example, my dining table also serves as my desk. I use my nearby buffet cabinet to store all of my supplies, tools, files, and my printer. Anything that is not aesthetically pleasing is hidden from plain site.
Make sure all of your furniture is appropriately sized. In a small space, if you want a set of armchairs, they have to be on the smaller side, yet your rug should be as large as possible to fill nearly the entire room and therefore make it feel larger.
Lastly, I think it’s important not to be afraid of a small space. It’s ok to have a lot of books, plants, and art in your small space. It’s ok to have vintage furniture mixed with Ikea and more high end pieces. After all, these are the things that make it your comfy, cozy home.