No matter where Jenifer Altman lives, whether in the Midwest, Brooklyn, or her newest home in Asheville, you can be sure her space will be photograph-worthy. Good thing for us she’s a brilliant photographer! But that’s just the tip of her professional iceberg; she’s also a sublime cook who shares her skills with gusto, a writer whose words rival the beauty found in her Polaroids, a wife to Den, and the mother of three little ladies who seem to be grooving happily in her creative footsteps (Exhibits A and A, if you please.).
Also, as you’ll discover in about three seconds, she’s an inspired interior decorator deep down who’s found the formula to creating an acutely artistic yet entirely livable home. Enjoy this first peek at Jen’s newest space! It’s a beauty.
Q: You’ve experienced a few major and emotional moves within the last few years, but you seem to get your house in stunning order almost right away. Is that a conscious, deliberate act to help you all feel settled?
A: We have had some major moves lately! And I’m not sure we’re done, but we are for a least another year or so. And yes, it is very important to me to have a space that makes me feel settled. Rooms do not necessarily have to be finished, but there has to be a sense of order; the walls need to be painted and artwork hung. My undergrad work was in Interior Design which really helped me hone my aesthetic, and I just really know what I love at this point. I know what works for the way we live, and what is just not feasible.
Q: What’s the first thing you do when you move into a new space?
A: In this home, we painted first. Well, we actually stripped layers and layers of wallpaper first! The interior had not had any updating since the mid-80s, and I really loved the all white walls we had in our apartment in Brooklyn. I wanted to keep that clean, open look in this house.
When you first walk in, there is a huge space with parquet floors and a cathedral ceiling; it’s our sitting room and dining room and those white walls covered in art are such a lovely and welcoming way to enter the house. We also set up the girls’ rooms; we want them to feel comfortable and settled as soon as possible. Our girls are pretty resilient and adventurous little things — always asking about the next trip — but they also know that space is sacred.
Q: Does each home dictate a certain theme or emphasis? Your first home we saw was soft and dreamy. Your New York space was bold. And this space seems so airy and light, almost like it has wings.
A: Maybe it’s being a photographer, but I feel like the biggest differences in these spaces is the light, and that obviously lends itself to a host of things. Our home in the Midwest was a 1927 Dutch Colonial and the lot was surrounded with trees. We painted most of the rooms varying shades of greys; I think the combination of that dappled light and soft colors made it a bit dreamy. Our home in Brooklyn only had three windows and two French doors; it’s the main reason we kept the walls white, trying to keep it as bright as possible. And I remember as a design student being completely enthralled with artists’ spaces in NYC with art covering every inch of the wall. I wanted that in this space.
This home is by far the largest we’ve lived in, and that alone can really change the feel of a space. I found it pretty intimidating at first to not necessarily fill the space, but to create a feeling that the space was full. I think if you asked our friends and family, the overall “feel” of all our homes has been the same: we define that with our presence and our love. If anything has changed, I think that it’s the subtle infusion of colors since the girls were born.
Q: Do you have a short list of objects that always move with you and are unpacked first?
A: Art, cameras, certain books, Starck Ghost Chairs, Kartell Bourgie Lamp, and my Kitchen Aid mixer!
Q: What’s your favorite space in this home?
A: Really everywhere. I want to feel at home and happy in every space in our home, so I did my best to infuse each space with love. We have yet to get to our home office space, but I feel at home even in our guest room! I do love sitting in our pickled wood living room in front of the fire and watching football, though — a simple, but true pleasure.
Q: When does your home work best? How would your girls and husband answer?
A: I love a beautiful space — but with three children, it must also be highly functional. There is a place for everything and I get kind of crazy trying to keep it that way, but I’d much rather be a little crazy trying to keep it orderly than a lot crazy living in chaos!
I think Den loves the fact the property has a work shed in the back he can escape to when needed. My seven-year old loves having her own room, and her two little sisters — who are just 14 months apart and who are connected at the hip — love having their own space as well.
My apologies for the photo overload, Friends; I simply couldn’t cut even one of the photos she sent! An extra-special thanks to Jen for reinforcing my love of creating beautiful spaces in which to fill with equally stunning memories, no matter how far or how often you roam. I’m with you! Also, don’t you admire how Jen’s turned every space in her home into a favorite? It’s a good design goal, as well as a solid organizational and happiness-inducing endeavor. Isn’t there always one room we neglect? What’s yours? Perhaps it’s time to show it some love!
P.S. — If you’d like to share your home with us in my Living With Kids series, drop me a note. I’d love to hear from you!