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New School

BY Michael McCarthy | January 4, 2017 | Feature Features

Armed with fresh brand partnerships and clients who crave more than the classic DC look, Jennifer Wagner Schmidt sees the horizon—and it's decidedly modern.
HOME, JEN! Jennifer Wagner Schmidt lives what she preaches (a contemporary vibe) in her own Reston home.

Washington sits at a watershed moment, not only politically and culturally, but, as Jennifer Wagner Schmidt would argue, aesthetically. The Virginia-based interior designer and owner of JWS Interiors ( says that while some devotees to classic design will cling to their Shaker chairs and muted-tone settees forever, the contemporary revolution frames almost every conversation she has with clients these days.

“Our history is so distinct in DC,” says the Loudoun native who calls her style modern glamour. “For decades, Washingtonians have embraced that history when designing their homes—even their wallpaper selections. I’ve seen countless colonial-inspired theme rooms. But the move to modern spaces is happening. Younger generations are starting to dictate their own design sense, which is more minimal.”

Schmidt says she finds herself at an interesting point in her career right now, especially as an ambassador for Z Gallerie. And last spring, she inked brand partnerships with KitchenAid, Delta Faucet, Jeld Wen, Hunter Fan Company, Formica and Schlage. The group formed the Elevate Design Collective and hired Schmidt to design and renovate a Soho loft, which was featured in Veranda. “It was the most challenging project I’ve had to date, managing six brands and the design for the space,” she says. “Elevate was a success in many aspects, [especially when it came to] starting the conversation around home-decor accents.”

The designer says many legacy colors—dark reds and yellows—are going the way of the dodo. Cooler tones such as whites and shades of gray will prevail. “Rich, dark and traditional furniture is being replaced with light-colored woods, cleaner lines and solid or neutral upholstery choices,” she says. “Of course, this fits my design aesthetic in keeping with more modern and clean lines. I’m always thrilled when someone calls and says they want to get rid of dark and old furniture and start new!”

Helping others, hanging out with family and friends, red wine, sushi, reading a stack of magazines

Bumper stickers, people who complain, fried food, cold weather

Photography Courtesy Of: