Jenny Dina Kirschner, founder of JDK Interiors, an interior design firm based in New York City, comes from a family of fashion designers and artists, and has a fine arts background herself.
Before starting her firm and moving to Brooklyn, where she currently lives, she worked at design firms in London and New York.
Ms. Kirschner’s JDK Interiors has worked on dozens of residential projects, from apartments in Manhattan and Miami Beach to townhouses in Brooklyn.
We spoke to her about how one apartment has stayed with her forever, what surprises her about what luxury buyers are willing to pay for, and more.
Mansion Global: Describe your dream property.
Jenny Kirschner: If I could live in a villa in Tuscany, which I could update myself, and sit outside in the garden with a glass of wine. With lavender, cypress trees and rolling hills in view— that would be my dream property.
MG: Do you have a real estate property that got away?
JK: My husband and I, before we had kids, would occasionally go to open houses on the Upper West Side. That was fuel for me. One weekend we went to look at an apartment in the former Cafe Des Artistes building. I’d never seen an apartment like this anywhere in Manhattan—it was a duplex with double-height ceilings and a fireplace. It was a wreck and I wanted to get my hands on it. But the idea stuck with me, and we ended up finding a place in Brooklyn a few years ago, that’s similar, with triple-height ceilings and I put in a fireplace. It’s even more amazing than that one.
MG: What does luxury mean to you?
JK: For me, it’s something that makes my life more enjoyable. I wouldn’t say “no” to a sofa upholstered in cashmere, but for me, it’s about splurging on things that’ll save me time and energy, so I can have more time to do the things I want.
Luxury should inspire people to let go and live in the moment. For some people, that’s being in the perfect location, for others the location is less important than what’s in their home.
But overall, a luxury home should anticipate the owner’s needs to make life more enjoyable.
MG: What’s the biggest surprise in the luxury real estate market now?
JK: As a designer, what I see from my perspective, mostly in New York, is that you’re seeing a trend of more and more people spending more money for a “luxury” building, with its luxury amenities, or because it was designed by a famous architect. They’re willing to give up things like space and closet space. I’ve had to built in vanities, chests, closets and things into apartments that were very expensive. To me, it’s surprising that more people are willing to buy these types of properties and forgo these every day necessities.
MG: What’s your favorite part of your home?
JK: I have 28-foot ceilings and some 28-foot windows, so the light is amazing. I walk in and feel a vastness and sense of calm that I haven’t experienced anywhere else. It’s kind of amazing.
MG: What best describes the theme to your home and why?
JK: There’s no specific underlying theme. My style is modern and art-inspired, but also eclectic and nostalgic. But it’s all done in a restrained manner, with a bit of humor mixed in.
I have a ton of art. I’ve been collecting art for a while—my background is in fine arts—so between my own art and the artists I gravitate toward, there’s always something sarcastic or humorous. In there.
MG: What’s the most valuable thing in your home?
JK: My two daughters are most valuable, of course.
Second is an eight-foot-by-12-foot chandelier that used to hang in a church in Amsterdam and it hangs in the center of my apartment; it’s really the the focal point of the home.
MG: What’s the most valuable amenity to have in a home right now?
JK: In New York City, hands down, it’s outdoor space—private or even semi-private. That’s huge for resale.
MG: What’s your best piece of real estate advice?
JK: I have an uncle who’s a high-end real estate developer in L.A., and he once told me that you always want to look for properties that have value from day one, and not ones that rely on the real estate market rising. He would never buy a place without it having value on day one, even if he was gutting it.
From a design perspective, my advice would be to redo bathrooms and kitchens in a very neutral way for resale value.
MG: If you had a choice of living in a new development or a prime resale property, which would you choose and why?
JK: As a designer, I always want that perfect blank slate. I’d take a resale for that reason. I’m also savvy, and I want to get a good deal. I don’t want to pay a premium for a developer to put in finishes. I want to put in my own quality ones.
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