Showroom

Two Tricks Jenna Lyons Uses to Make a Room Feel Ultra Cozy

Words by Gabrielle Savoie
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Living room designed by Jenna Lyons featuring a Lawson-Fenning chair. Photographed by Simon Watson.

Jenna Lyons approaches interiors the same way she does fashion.

“There's something so ingrained from my previous life at J.Crew where I could style a winter white look with a cable sweater, jeans, and soft rubber boots,” she recalls. “There's one connective tissue.”

Turns out, a room comes together in a similar fashion: with a mix of seemingly opposite shapes, textures, or colors and a singular throughline that connects each element. After renovating a Brooklyn brownstone (that went viral before going viral was even a thing) and subsequently gutting the Soho loft she currently shares with her son, Beckett, and her chihuahua, Popeye, the style icon quickly found her stride in the world of interiors.

It helps that her knowledge of textiles is encyclopedic—just ask her to school you on the different types of velvet. “I value materials that will age well and that are designed to move over time, so you can see that a person lived in it,” she says. “I look for quality that’s lasting and that can evolve.” In her inaugural Showroom, the ‘woman who dressed America’ bottles up her experience with the world’s most iconic brands and celebrities into the most exquisite capsule for the home.

Take a peek into her wild world of striking silhouettes and sumptuous textiles.

Introducing: Jenna Lyons' Showroom
Introducing: Jenna Lyons' Showroom

My secret for a well-layered room:

One of my idiosyncratic guidelines is that if I have a fully-upholstered sofa, the chairs have to be a different material: I'll go with something more delicate with a touch of metal or wood. I like opposites—something humble with something fancy. As the pieces come together, there's a tension that pushes them away from each other visually. It helps separate the room, it starts to create little zones, and it gives your eye different textures to look at.

What makes a room memorable:

I like to include at least one thing that looks like nothing I’ve seen before. That's what makes a room feel not so cookie cutter—it becomes a signature. My pink couch has become that thing because it's not as expected or as frequently seen, but it’s what people remember.

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What makes a room feel cozy:

The first thing I do is bring the lighting off the ceiling and soften it—that immediately changes the vibe. Textured carpets and fabrics are also really key to making a room feel soft and welcoming. Without those two things, when you’re left with stark lighting and glossy or sharp edges, you start to shift into more of an office vibe. When I come home, I want to bring the mood down and make everything softer: dim the lights and get surrounded in cozy textiles.

The no-fail piece that every space needs:

Rugs are the most overlooked, underrated items that can immediately bring a room together. When you have five different pieces of furniture floating on a hardwood floor and you put a rug down, they all of a sudden feel anchored to each other. When done right, rugs have the ability to bring together different colors and textures in a way that makes everything click.

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What I’m recommending to clients:

I like to start with things that have the most challenging, limited color palette. There are 8 million paint swatches and fabrics available. But rugs and marble have a finite number of options. Once those pieces are locked in, you have more choices to move around them.

The pieces that anchor a space:

There are three components that have to work together in a living room. If I’m starting from scratch, I begin with a rug, a coffee table, and a couch. Those three things have to have a common language. Once that’s set, it's easy to layer in side tables, extra pull-up chairs, plants… It goes quickly from there.

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I’m really into this look:

I have a total obsession with '70s—for lack of a better word—cocaine den-type rooms where the floors were carpeted and the walls and furniture were all the same color. I love when textures change but colors don't. Even in my days of doing clothing, I would pair a white leather trouser with a cream Aran sweater and a soft silk scarf. There's a tight color story, but the textures move. I've always been really attracted to that.

What I look for in a sofa:

There's not a one size fits all with sofas—they're such a big part of the room. I look at what it's sitting next to—if you have really modern chairs, I’ll look for a slightly more traditional piece. I always like to have one thing in the room that's a little bit special or unusual. The Millie sofa in the Dedar Mountain Tiger print, for example, could be the ‘holy shit’ moment but if the chairs are really special or the rug is a statement, the sofa should be quieter to support everything else.

Why I love a daybed:

Daybeds do two things for a room: they allow more visual flow and they provide flexibility. They work well where you want additional seating but you don't want to block the room visually. A sofa stops your vision and you can't see through it. A daybed allows you to have interactions in two different places, like in an open kitchen facing a living room where people might want to chat with someone in the kitchen but they may also want to swivel around and look at who’s in the living room.

The origin of daybeds is interesting because we don't really live this way anymore, but it was built for this idea that you could recline during the day, in a time when women were probably in corsets. That's not happening anymore. Today, we're probably just exhausted.

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My approach to casegoods:

The most important thing with wood furniture is craftsmanship. I want to feel the weight and hear the creak of a solid wood door—it sounds like quality. You can't replicate that with MDF or veneers. I'm also always looking for something that’s going to look better in five years, not worse. A piece by Fern NYC, for instance, is going to age well with time as it gets little marks, scrapes, and oils from your fingers. I feel the same way about leather belts and boots.

My go-to accent tables:

I really like mixing table heights and materials. It could be marble, wood, travertine, brass, brick… Coffee tables and small occasional tables are an easy place to really have fun and mix things up. It gives you a way to build texture in a room.

Why I designed my own dining chair:

I designed a dining chair because it's probably been one of the most challenging things for me to find. My goal was to design a comfortable Louis XIV chair with a more modern feel. I wanted a low profile that felt incredibly clean and delicate from every angle. Most of the chairs I was finding were too straight, so mine has a gentle rounded back. When you sit in it, you get cupped by the padding so you're not sitting as upright.

The most important thing at the end of the day is comfort. I want people to be able to sit for a two-hour dinner and feel completely at ease, want to recline, have another drink, relax and talk. I’m not interested in a formal experience, I want people to stay a while.

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