On a recent trip to New York with my chic friend Kim, we spent time with one of her childhood besties, Manhattan-based designer Jennifer Vaughn Miller.
You’ve likely seen Miller’s work in the pages of pubs like Architectural Digest and Domino, but I was immediately captivated by her down-to-earth charm, effortless style (think 90’s Ralph Lauren ad) and cool confidence.
She grew up in Texas, but has been based in New York since 2002, where she and her family split time between the city and their country home in the North Fork of Long Island (where they’re currently sheltering during the coronavirus pandemic.)
I had to know more about this fascinating woman and once I caught sight of her Long Island home, knew we must share a peek with you guys, too. We caught up with Jennifer to chat all things color palette, her fave NYC haunts, and what it’s like being married to a man who may just love clothes more than she does. Scroll on for our interview…
Tell us about your design background.
I always envisioned creating spaces from conceptual design to the smallest styling details, so I moved to NYC after college to work in interiors and hone my knowledge of materials.
What inspired the design for your Long Island home?
Our house in Long Island features a collection of so many things we hold dear: antique china, odds and ends from travels, flea market finds. Every piece has a story.
Tell us about how long you’ve been sheltering, and what it’s been like during the outbreak?
We escaped the city and we have been in our country home since… wait for it, Friday the 13th of March. Our fireman neighbor brought us a gallon of milk for the baby, some rubber gloves and two rolls of toilet paper. Those acts of kindness are immeasurable in the middle of this crazy.
What are you doing to pass the time?
Momming. That’s it. Keeping busy by trying to protect my kids from feeling vulnerable and afraid. I’m trying to structure days for an 8 year old whilst bringing joy to a toddler, all the while longing to lay in bed in a ball. My savior is Mary Helen Bower of Ballet Beautiful. I’ve always danced, so exercise with her streaming videos for even twenty minutes a day brings me peace.
Okay, so back to the house… why the North Fork of Long Island?
We are more or less creative hermits. The beach and farm life is a way to detox from the city without the ‘jazz’ of some of the other neighboring Long Island beach towns. I love that I can happily hang about in a caftan without makeup.
Tell us your favorite spot in your city home… and your country home.
In the city, it’s my children’s rooms. Tucking them in at night is where I hit reset and wind down. The rooms are cozy, quiet and peaceful. At our country home in Long Island, it’s the kitchen, our family hub. I put on French music and cook things I wouldn’t attempt in the city! (And bake pies, lots of pies!)
Did you have any design challenges when working on either of these spaces?
Where to begin? Yes! Space, space, space. It’s always an issue, especially living with a man who has more clothes than I do!
What are your tips for keeping the design of a space simple?
Palette. I prefer starting with neutral colors and then layering in art and accessories in a curated way that can be changed when one tires of them. That, and classic lines. Nothing too trendy.
For many, filling a space with only neutrals can feel cold or uninspired. What are your tips for designing mostly neutral interiors?
Texture. Materials. Shape. These add interest without being ‘in your face’. I prefer to absorb the nuances of a space subtly. A room’s color palette can be very pale and neutral, but then the turned leg of an ebonized wood chair can juxtapose that in the most beautiful way.
Fill in the blank: A well-designed home should…
Do you have any tips for keeping your place clutter-free? Especially with kids?
Clever hidden storage. For example, I use baskets lined with linen beneath my daughter’s antique bed to house her toys. They are easy to pull in and out for her but also disappear at a moment’s notice. I also use large antique cabinets to create doll houses. Sure beats the large plastic variety invading our space!
Describe your home in 5 words or less:
Warm, interesting, comfortable, curated, reflective.
Name your 5 favorite spots in New York City, and why.
For me, my favorites feel and taste like home (rather than being the newest “it spot.”)
1) Greenwich Hotel: vibe
2) Antonucci: Local Italian.
3) Bemelmans Bar: Martini
4) Le Bilboquet: my out of office lunch spot (considering it’s next door, it’s become my home-away-from-home!)
5) Bar Pitti: another oldie but goodie
Favorite fashion designers? (You have the best taste! #closetenvy):
Khaite, Ralph Lauren, Vintage Denim (key to my life!), Dior, Saint Laurent
Your husband Derrick is in the fashion industry in New York City. Can you tell us a little bit more about what he does?
I know I’m biased, but he’s a creative genius. He’s about to launch a website that he’s president and curator of, Maker & Company, which features the best edit out there for less trendy menswear. He also still designs Barker Black Shoes (which I also love for myself!) and consults for many fashion brands.
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