Throughout life’s journey, Jenny Wolf has picked up and inherited a distinct sense of style, which continues to influence her aesthetic.
By Kirsten Niper
Jenny Wolf grew up both in New Orleans, and Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, in a family that was in the furniture business. “I was constantly going to furniture markets, and at a young age I was interested in design,” she shares. “The best birthday present for me was to redesign my bedroom. Sometimes my mom would come home and I had rearranged the living room furniture.”
The look of New Orleans homes and the city’s love of antiques fed Wolf’s appreciation for antique pieces, which today she blends with contemporary furniture and abstract art. Spending time on the coast of South Carolina, Wolf picked up uses of textures such as sea grass, driftwood, coral and relaxed linens. “Everything has an organic feel to it,” Wolf says.
Upon moving to New York City, Wolf worked in retail development and then visual merchandising at Ralph Lauren before attending Parsons School of Design to graduate with a degree in interior design and a concentration in architecture, lighting, furniture color and interior layouts.
Today, Wolf is based in New York City and is a traditionalist at heart. “Maybe eclectic leaning towards a traditional aesthetic,” Wolf says. When working with clients, she strives to weave personalities with possessions to create interiors that suit their lifestyles and needs.
When meeting with a new client, Wolf starts two dimensional and begins with the floor plan to see what pieces are already in place and what she would like to inject. Then, she asks her clients to pull imagery of pieces they like or of what they’d like to see in the space, and she does the same. “I like to talk through images, because everyone’s definitions of a certain style are different. They also might say what they like in the image and also what they don’t like. It’s about honing in on the style and having inspiration meetings to get a good read on the client.”
“I tend to keep things light and airy, especially in New York City interiors, which sometimes lack natural light and windows. Keeping walls and ceilings light makes the room feel larger,” explains Wolf. Although with smaller rooms, like bathrooms or rooms without windows, Wolf plays with darker colors. “Its counterintuitive, but painting the walls and ceilings darker, or with a dark wallpaper, it creates a depth that goes on forever.”
NoHo Loft photos courtesy of Francesco Lagnese
Wolf incorporates lessons or styles from each project she completes moving forward. A lot of the projects Wolf has worked on in the city have been lofts, and one project in NoHo was in an old warehouse with details like galvanized air ducts and exposed wood joists, which she highlighted in her design, but are usually concealed in homes. “Shortly after, I did the Hamptons project and incorporated exposed wood beams on the ceilings to add texture. I love seeing the nuts and bolts and drawing attention to the architecture.” She even incorporated metal chairs in a more traditional dining room design to add an extra layer of interest. “The general architecture of New York City spaces has impacted the direction I’ve gone in,” she shares.
One of Wolf’s most challenging projects was the NoHo loft: “I loved it, but it was a total gut renovation.” The loft was in a deep building that lacked natural light, so Wolf replaced the windows on the back of the loft to bring in as much natural light as possible and spent time trying to figure out the best floor plan to enhance the lighting. It was a labor-intensive job, “but the end result was really beautiful,” shares Wolf.
When faced with a design dilemma, Wolf looks to her favorite designers to see how they would incorporate, or rework, a certain element. “I’ve never worked under an interior designer, but through traveling and work, you have to study a lot of details. It helps to look at people’s work you admire, especially on the construction side. Like, how would Steven Gambrel [architect, interior designer] treat this detail in the millwork?” Wolf is also a huge fan of interior designers Albert Hadly and Bunny Williams.
“I like a healthy mix of old and new,” says Wolf, and that mix guides her designs from New York City lofts to Hamptons estates.