Nestled in an alleyway on the ocean side of Virginia Beach's North End is a residence that's less like a house and more like a living art gallery. Meet Jen Temple, a dynamic interior designer and co-founder of the innovative design firm, Marks Abbot.
When this loft-style home popped up one day in the MLS, Jen saw it as a perfect fit for her modern eclectic design and snagged it with the help of her good friend and local real estate guru, Kate Marks. The layout is as distinct as she is, with an expansive open upstairs area merging the living, kitchen, and dining spaces, all adorned with carefully chosen art pieces. Below, the three bedrooms offer a serene and peaceful ambiance. Transitioning from her marital home which had very traditional bones and where she found her design style constantly clashing with the house's classic elements, Jen saught a fresh start last year and feels grateful for her new space that perfectly aligns with her artistic sensibilities. "When I look around, I just feel like this is exactly what this house is supposed to look like. No crown molding to fight with, this house is so quintessentially me."
Jen's home is an anthology of treasures, transforming every corner into a mini-gallery. As an innate collector, she's not just about finding but also perfectly displaying her items. There are spaces in her home dedicated solely to celebrating these groupings, like the side table in the living room where her rock collection is on show or the hallway downstairs where four authentic Japanese kimonos hang before they're rotated out periodically for four others. There's also an entire credenza that showcases an impressive array of vessels of all kinds- from bowls and pitchers to a niche type of Japanese vase called 'Ikebana' (Jen's favorite vessel.)
Now that I'm in the art world, the word "collector" hits different. It's a term that describes an upper echelon-taste consumer who knows what they like and has a specific reverence for the pieces they purchase. That's Jen. Her collections don't stop at rocks and kimonos- they continue to the furniture and art in her home. She knows the era of each piece, whether found or passed down. She chooses them so intentionally and really sees them in their most artful form, like her old kitchen table. The uniqueness of the tiger oak was too cool to leave behind so Jen decided in order for it to live on in a new space, the top was removed and lacquered, then innovatively combined with three cement spheres from CB2 as the "legs" of what is now her living room coffee table.
Another recurring theme in Jen's home are heirlooms from her grandparents, who also collected vessels. "My grandmother was an artist. They had really great taste." The dining room table, a striking speckled green travertine-like stone, was passed down from them along with the delicately feminine hanging accent lights above the kitchen counter. In her design philosophy, Jen relishes contrasts—harmonizing hard and soft elements. Her bedroom, in my opinion, reflects this perfectly. It's both edgy and feminine. The series of vintage Dali train prints hang as a makeshift headboard above her bed, which is footed by another heirloom- a vintage tufted couch that Jen reupholstered with a funky fabric designed by artist Lindsay Cowles.
A minimal kitchen adorned with a small statement Japanese teapot and a folksy portrait of a woman above the stovetop exude an aura of simplistic elegance.
The living room's unintentional arrangement of trios and spheres is an example of Jen's intuitive design process. "I often don't realize until after I've completed a space that there are repetitive patterns appearing throughout." This intuitive approach to design is Jen's specialty. "At Marks Abbot Design, we are mindful of the bones of a space, how it will be used, and the personality of the client throughout our design process." The recently-formed Virginia Beach-based firm just finished up the new Skin Chic location on Shore Drive and they hope to have a new commercial project kicking off in early 2024.
Which, brings me to my favorite room in the house: Jane's. Jen definitely kept her "client" in mind with this room as it's a total contrast to the rest of the house- bursting with color and playful whimsy. But still with touches of Jen's signature edgy throughout. Frida Kahlo in a Nacho Libre mask sets the bar for Nora's pre-teen room, let me tell you. :)
all photography by Mal Terranova @dust.and.light.photo
Email email@example.com to inquire about which pieces are still available from the latest Roxy Hall art collection called "Homebody."
ps- if you haven't yet, check out some of the other home tours! Les and Tyler's Mid Century Modern Marvel, The Watkins' Minimalist Waterfront Oasis, A Colorful Worldly Bohemian Home with Vanessa Bertini, and Lagoon-side and Eclectic: The Lopez's Home is Made for Hosting.