I’m so excited to introduce you to Jeffrey Dungan, of Jeffrey Dungan Architects, one of North America’s premier architects, who’s body of work consists of upscale architecture; combining classic elements, modern lines and natural materials. All with an incredible sense of restraint, enabling his spaces to almost speak to you. When I discovered Jeffrey through Instagram, I was blown away by how compelling his work is – like a carefully curated collection of art, I was immediately drawn in. I reached out to see if Jeffrey would be interested in an interview. His down to earth attitude and gracious, positive energy truly inspired me, as much as his portfolio does. Keep reading to find out more about Jeffrey’s vision behind these spectacular interiors. I’m sure you too, will be immediately drawn in!
CL: There’s an incredible sense of drama in your spaces, yet they’re calm and quiet at the same time. How do you achieve such a perfect balance?
JD: I believe that life is too short to live a dull existence – and dull spaces don’t help us live the life we all dream we can. I think our environment is critical to the goal of living an inspired life. So yes – I would actually say what we try to do is create emotion in our rooms – in our designs… I’m an emotional person, so I think it probably is just a natural outflow of what I think about life and living. I also am what I quasi-jokingly call a “closet modernist” so I think if you can say in a few words what you mean, it’s always more powerful. Thus, the quiet part of what you perceived in the work.
CL: Your work clearly draws on nature and the use of natural materials. How important is that to you and where is that inspiration drawn from?
JD: I think of all the places that inspire us, nature is one of the biggest and most roundly agreed upon resources… There is not much we do that can’t also be traced back to nature – be that pattern, shape, form, color, light – we are animals and react to these things in a ubiquitous way. I think for me personally, nature has a very real and palpable meaning because I grew up on a farm and was steeped in nature at a very young age throughout my childhood and it just got inside my soul.
CL: This kitchen is a cloud-like dream! I love your use of space and that there are so many bold statements, yet they don’t compete with each other. Tell me how you were able to attain that.
JD: Well, there is a lot that goes into any successful space – when I look at this, I see many elements – and color and light and shape. Any good composition has a place for the eye to go and rest, a focal point like the hood – where the eye returns to again and again but ventures out to look at the other details from that location. There is also balance – not always by symmetry but in this case, a powerful symmetry. What you don’t see in this image, is the very broad cased opening that frames it in a wonderful way – which I loved about this kitchen.
CL: The windows in this space are the focal point, allowing the outdoors to take centre stage. Yet they act as the perfect backdrop to the beautiful pottery and art! What was the driving force behind this concept?
JD: I would say light. And some views – but mostly in this kitchen I wanted to get rid of all the cabinetry. Many kitchens look like “ode to cabinets” and while I love a great piece of millwork as much as anyone, I get tired of too much. So, we found other places to store stuff. There’s not a cabinet that can compete with light and looking out into the trees (where the material for the cabinets comes from to begin with).
CL: I love how the appliances in this kitchen are mostly built into the stunning, marble-wrapped island, rather than on the walls, allowing the windows and views to sing. Was this design concept an ‘easy sell’, considering the smaller footprint of the space? Correct me if I’m wrong in thinking this is a smaller space! Also what was your philosophy behind using this amount of wood here?
JD: No, you are pretty much right on all accounts – the house was on a piece of property, that was, wait for it, 40×40. So, the house was small-ish but there’s not a room in there that doesn’t work, or feels cramped. This house is in Luxe magazine in this issue. On the wood, I wanted a kitchen that just felt simple without being overly rustic, yet I was hoping to make it just planked-like walls and let the materiality come through in a simple and natural way. When the light hits it, there is a magical feeling inside there.
CL: This bathroom is clearly a nod to the past, yet is so current. It reminds me of a European hotel from the turn of the 20th century, I’d never want to leave! Was that the objective with this design?
JD: You are very insightful. My inspiration for most of what we do comes from the 1890s to the 1920s and many periods as it did here – it just exudes that time gone by feeling. I loved this bath, it feels very spa-like, but as you say, in a very old school way. There is a way to honor the past that does not become a pastiche, or a cartoon, nor is it an exact replica. Those are the kinds of spaces I love.
CL: There’s something almost ethereal about this stunning space, it’s all so fresh and light and I love contrast of the punctuation of that black door and railing! Can you tell me more about this space and what your intentions were?
JD: I love steel windows and doors and their thinness – also, you can almost never go wrong with black and white. It’s just a crowd pleaser. I still have no idea why, but it works on me the same as it does anyone. I love to do a simple space and then do ONE detail in it that creates some sense of wonder – I call it a zinger… In this one, it is the stair and the railing. Much of my inspiration comes from travels over the world, like France… If you go into the service stair in the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, you will find a railing that inspired this one. Happy travels!
I am incredibly honored that I had the privilege to speak with Jeffrey Dungan and get to know more about him as well as learn about the thought process behind design his work. I hope you enjoyed learning from him in this brief interview, as much as I have! xo