Jennifer Ghatan has built an extensive career creating high-end residential projects in both the US and the UK. A New York native, her firm JKG Interiors London is outfitted to take a project from the initial concept through to completion inclusive of building, renovating and/or redecoration. We sat down with her to talk about her work and her approach to interior design.
What drives your passion for interiors and design?
I have been interested in interior design from a young age. I used to love helping my mother decorate our house by going through wallpapers and fabrics with her, walking around antique shops in New York and Paris, and appreciating beautiful architecture in Italy and England. As the youngest in my family, I was exposed to so much early on and by the time I was 13, I was already subscribed to interior design magazines, which I looked forward to receiving each month!
What made you decide to get into the industry?
My passion for the arts. I was an established pianist and performed in concerts from the age of six, sitting behind a piano day after day seemed rather lonely. I earned a Masters’ degree in Clinical Social Work, though felt down much of the time from working with paediatric oncology and eventually in foster care. I decided to switch gears and enrolled in Parsons School of Design. The industry of Interior Design allowed me to engage daily with other designers, artists, artisans, sculptors, architects, bloggers, editors, colleagues and last but not least, my clients. This field stimulates me and challenges me regularly and encourages me to continue to grow and learn.
Describe a typical day at the office for you
My days are fast-paced and energised. As a mother of young children, I aim to finish early two days a week to spend time with my children. What this means is that there is 0 time for dilly-dallying or office banter. I get to the office after dropping the kids, say a quick “good morning” to my team and we dive right in to reviewing CAD drawings, joinery details, sourcing furnishing and lighting, etc… I don’t step out for lunch or take personal calls. I tend to work most nights and weekends since I am what some would call a Workaholic. I love what I do!!
What is the most frustrating aspect of your job? What’s the most enjoyable or rewarding aspect?
Budgets are the most frustrating! It is terrible to say, but it is such a let down when I come up with an amazing design that has to be modified due to budget. I still love the final result as I work hard to it always ends up beautiful, nevertheless, its frustrating.
Another frustrating element is the amount of follow-up required to get others to do work as quickly as I do. The most rewarding is a completed project with happy clients!
Your projects have often been described as “eclectic”? Would you agree with that?
I would agree that I do not like an environment to feel sterile or predictable such as from a catalogue. In order to achieve that, some eclecticism and uniqueness is essential. A space would feel otherwise quite stale to me.
What can your clients expect when working with you?
Diligence, precision and a lot of personal attention. I am a perfectionist and although I have a casual approach when engaging with my clients, I am extremely technical and professional in my presentations.
Do you have any rules that you absolutely work by?
My designs must be practical and liveable and in-keeping with my clients’ lifestyles. I do not believe in absolutes. I have preferences, though I aim to always keep an open mind. Lighting is a key factor in my designs and I am against using grid-like downlights in a space. I will always opt for ambient lighting where task lighting isn’t necessary and even recessed lights must go on dimmers.
Is there a signature touch that you bring to all your designs?
My goal is always to have a warm and inviting space once I am done designing it.
I like my design to feel glamorous, rich, layered and luxurious. I usually combine solids and prints in monochromatic tones when it comes to choosing a scheme for a room. I incorporate both reflective and matte surfaces in any given space to enlarge the space visually as the eye bounces around the different materials.