Interior designer Jennifer Ferreira is busy straddling her day-to-day as a working mom to a toddler and a teen. Today she’s in an uptown apartment with spare but oh-so stylish furnishings and a mindset that’s focused on a life that celebrates the simple things. She admits, her fresh perspective didn’t come easily though. After flipping a house and having a second baby 14 years after her first, she took a much-needed break and discovered that deciding to downsize and live with less is the best success story of all.
“I got engaged, pregnant and bought/moved/renovated a house I was planning to flip all within a 6-month period. I was over-worked and a new mom again at 43-years old. I took on too much, had the disease to please and took care of everyone but myself. I started to feel overwhelmed and angry and the only thing that kept me going was knowing that once the house was sold I was going to take some much-needed time off. I went to Portugal, Spain and Prague with my family and I had the chance to ask myself: ‘What’s important to me right now’?
I had a big a-ha moment when I read an article that asked: ‘Where are you on the list of top 10 things in your life?’ I wasn’t on the list when I should have been first on that list. Once I really understood what it meant to be number one, everything changed. What I give and feed myself makes me whole. It creates an opportunity to have my cup overflow to everyone else and makes me a better mother. It helps me give more to others. There are definitely practices that I do to keep myself healthy and viable so I stay fully present. Meditation is one of them; it’s really helped my frequency and has been a complete game changer for me.
While I was pregnant, I also read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and it inspired me to simplify my life and live with more joy. We live in such a throw-away society and I have learned that the more I have, the more I complicate my life. I’m very mindful of what I buy now and I’m always editing what I have. I only keep what I need that’s practical.
I had Brooklyn 14 years after my first son Alexandre and this second time around I’ve realized how much I don’t need. I’ve been careful not to get sucked into so many baby things. For example, I don’t have a diaper genie. I just walk downstairs to the garbage right away. I buy him clothes that are bit bigger for longevity. I only buy toys during holidays and birthdays, that way his gifts are special. And really, kids don’t need that much stuff. They just need to be outside — and they need us.
Having a baby later in life, my physical recovery was harder, but spiritually, I’m more present and enjoying every small moment that comes along. For both boys, I’m slowing things down and being present and that’s as simple as reading a book together with Brooklyn or having eye contact with Alexandre when we’re having a conversation. I don’t put them in a lot of programs either. I try to live what the Dalai Lama preaches: ‘The only thing your child needs is love.’ I’m cutting out the noise and replacing it with connections whether that’s with me at home or going to the park and meeting more people.
I don’t always get it right though. Of course, I get frustrated. My time management is awful and I have those days when I’m rundown and everything is going wrong. I wouldn’t call myself a hot mess; I’m just being human. And it’s these moments that make it clear to me that scaling back is the right thing to do. So instead of taking on too much, I will carve out time to go to a farmer’s market with them for a half hour. Since Alexandre was born, I developed a love for cooking and it’s very important for me to teach my children the importance of eating organic whole food. Making a home, cooking with love and eating together are tangible ways of connecting with them. I’m fortunate I have some support so I can work and focus on my business as well as carve out time for myself. Luckily my older son Alexandre helps out when I have a lot on the go too.
Living in a rental apartment has made things so much easier as well. I don’t want to say I will never buy a house again, but right now living in a 3-bedroom apartment to take care of, cleaning and staying organized is so much easier to manage. We also live in an amazing neighbourhood and I don’t have to worry about sky high property taxes, or if there’s a flood, a leak or raccoons in the attic. It makes every day less stressful. I know it’s such a cliché but less really is more and today I have an inner peace and calm that I couldn’t have imagined a few years ago.”
Jennifer’s design style is striking yet well-edited and minimally chic. “The way we are living is just not sustainable. I think people need to be more conscious of what they are buying. I’m a believer that you shouldn’t have anything in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. Buy better and buy less. Besides, classics never fade.”
An animal-print bench she found on a trip to Miami has moved with her for over 10 years, lending to her philosophy to buy what you love and to choose things that aren’t too trendy that will last every whim. About her palette throughout her apartment she says, “I like to have black accents. It helps ground a space that’s too white.”
Her son Alexandre’s room was decorated with her guiding eye. “He really trusts me. Obviously he’s old enough to choose things for himself, but he always asks for my input. I think he values my opinion.”
Brooklyn’s room is similarly spare, stylish and textural. Rug, Casa Cubista at Saudade.
The butterflies in her toddler’s rooms aren’t just from Etsy. They are keepsakes she brought back from a trek she made to the Galapagos Islands.
A Mariano Fortuny photography lamp takes centre stage in her apartment’s living and dining area. It’s large in scale, however with her pared-down aesthetic, it doesn’t appear overwhelming.
While taking a much-needed break with her family after having her second baby and completing a major house flip, Jennifer embraced the art of meditation and soul-cleansing crystals. “Since learning to put myself first, I take them everywhere with me.”
Her decluttered design philosophy also includes decluttering a room’s vibe with sage.
Her wardrobe must-haves reflect her interior style: Black, white, timeless and graphic. “I love Chanel’s signature camellia flower. This evening bag is perfect. It fits my lipstick, credit card, some money and a my keys.”
Hits of colour and animal prints provide the perfect contrast to her neutral instincts.
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She credits French architect Joseph Dirand, who is celebrated for his design restraint, as a source of inspiration.
Every corner in her home is a composition that speaks volumes without excess. “Life is so much simpler without clutter. There’s so much less to clean, and who says less needs to looks boring?”