Jennifer Wagner Schmidt of JWS Interiors, her eponymous Washington, DC-based interior design firm, has been featured in design publications ranging from Elle Decor and Veranda to Domino and Apartment Therapy. With over 100,000 Instagram followers and brand partnerships with companies like Z Gallerie, KitchenAid and California Closets, Schmidt has established herself as a powerhouse in the design world. As an entrepreneur and mother of two daughters, Jennifer understands the importance of designing practical, yet beautiful spaces. She finds her inspiration in fashion, abstract art, Hollywood glamour, and travel, translating striking design elements into sophisticated interiors that reflect her clients’ lifestyles. Our founder and CEO Bea Fischel-Bock sat down with Schmidt to discuss design, creativity, and more.
Bea: What’s your everyday uniform?
Jennifer: I don’t have a “regular” outfit, per se. Each day is so different. If I’m meeting with clients, I tend to wear a dress or jeans with heels and a cute top. If I don’t have any meetings, then I’m glued to my computer until lunch time in my sweats, and only then do I get dressed for the day.
Bea: How do you stay creative from season to season?
Jennifer: Staying creative is so important in this business! I think what keeps me on my toes and enables me to bring something interesting to our projects is the fact that [they] are so diverse. That in and of itself keeps things fresh. I also read a plethora of shelter publications, photography books, etc., all the time. There isn’t one space in my home that doesn’t have a design book or magazine. I live, eat, and breathe design.
Bea: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Jennifer: “If you don’t try, you won’t know.” I’m one of those people who is willing to take a risk [and] try something new, and actually likes doing it. My philosophy has always been that you only live once, and it’s up to me, and me alone, to “make it happen.” The status quo is boring. You have to LIVE your LIFE!
Bea: How has your business grown over the years, and how do you see it growing in the future?
Jennifer: I’ve worked really, really hard to grow JWS Interiors. I started with an idea and a passion and took a risk, since this is my second career (I was formerly in high-tech public relations). JWS Interiors didn’t have a website for a long time and the business grew entirely through word of mouth for years. Today, calls and emails come in weekly for new business, and of course social media has helped us expand immensely! As for the future, I’d love to take on larger projects, establish more brand collaborations (we’ve worked with Z Gallerie, Stainmaster Carpet, and Delta Faucet, to name a few), and someday I’d like to have a big coffee table book of my designs.
Bea: What’s your favorite place to shop for furniture?
Jennifer: Oh, that’s a hard one. I have so many I love. Jayson Home, High Street Market, Chairish, and Restoration Hardware come to mind first for furniture and accessories.
Bea: What’s your favorite piece of furniture in your home?
Jennifer: We went away for the weekend for our third or fourth wedding anniversary, and my husband bought me this beautiful cowhide bench I saw in a store and fell in love with — I will never get rid of it.
Bea: When you are designing, which piece of furniture do you begin with?
Jennifer: I usually start with a rug or sofa, depending on the space. If wallpaper is involved, then I start with that.
Bea: What’s more important: style, or functionality?
Jennifer: Ah, this is a trick question! My clients may kill for me saying this, but I tend to pick style over functionality . . . of course as a decorator I have to make things practical too, especially when designing for families. So stain resistant fabrics are KEY!
Bea: What’s your favorite room in your house?
Jennifer: Hands down, my family room. It’s got a California vibe to it with white sofas, a natural rug, and warm light wood tones, and it just makes me happy to walk by it every day. And the sofas are nap-friendly for everyone!
Bea: What design concepts are you inspired by, and what’s a trend you wish would go away?
Jennifer: I love a clean-lined, edited space. Modernism is a design concept I’m inspired by — I’m not one to add a lot of “stuff” to a room. I’m finding [as I get] older, the “less-is-more” approach — both in my designs and in everyday living — makes a lot of sense. The use of the right materials, finishes, and fabrics can make a space. I’m starting to get tired of the boho trend, and specifically, Moroccan patterned rugs (they are everywhere!) I feel like it’s getting old.