Expert Advice

4 Design Tips We Learned From Jenna Lyons’s Living Room

Classic with a quirky twist.

By Cristina Cleveland

When I look at Jenna Lyons’s SoHo loft, I see a Jenna Lyons for J.Crew outfit, in house form. The sofa is the pink velvet blazer, the walls are the cuffed light-wash denim, the ottomans are the leopard kitten heel pumps, and the mix of antique and modern art are the jewelry. It’s quite possible that this analogy is the result of my Lyons love goggles (thick framed, naturally) but I may be on to something here. If you’re one of those people who has nailed their personal clothing style but still feels out of their depths when faced with an empty room, consider building your room the way you would an outfit.

Build around one key piece.

Start with one key piece you want to build your room around. A piece that you absolutely love and feel represents your taste. As you go on to choose color palettes, furniture and accessories, keep your original piece as a point of focus. Nothing should fight with it or overpower it.

Be realistic about your lifestyle.

Just like you have to consider whether you need an outfit that will be comfortable for walking or one that’s low maintenance and doesn’t require ironing, think about what you need this room to do for you. Be realistic about your lifestyle, aka stop buying heels if all you wear is flats. If you’re the type of person who never works at a desk, don’t invest in a big, formal desk.

Mix small patterns with large prints.

In Lyons’s room, the small leopard print ottomans sit atop the large striped Moroccan rugs. In clothes, as in rooms, it’s easier to mix a large pattern with a small one than to have several medium sized prints.


Style vintage with its opposite.

If you wear head to toe 70’s inspired clothing, you run the risk of looking costume-y. One of the best pieces of styling advice I’ve ever heard is to style vintage in the opposite way from its intended use. Take a suit and wear it with sneakers. Pair heels with track pants. And in the case of this room, traditional pieces like the upholstered room divider and marble mantel are balanced by the modern black lamp and the black and gold side tables.

Inspiration image by Simon Watson for The New York Times Style Magazine, picture frame floor lamp cb2, Chinoiserie room divider screen Chairish, pink velvet sofa Anthropologie, leopard ottoman Pier 1 Imports, antique oil painting Etsy, mirror Target, faux plant cb2.