Home. The word alone inspires comfort. Seldom is the sentiment enjoyed in a house outside our own. To me, Jenna Pryor’s abode is one such anomaly.
She leads a full life; with her husband, Andrew, she has two small children – Harrison, two and a half, and Asher, 11 months – and three Maltese dogs. With her business partner and mother, Pamela Freeman, she operates an interior design firm, a custom-furniture company and a retail space just off 124th Street selling decor, accessories and baby products – all under the umbrella of Plum Home + Design.
Next year, her character house in Westmount will be 100 years old. When she stood in the foyer for the first time six years ago, she was instantly sold. “I just need light to be happy,” says Pryor. “I walked in the front door and the sun was shining through, and I thought – that’s it. I hadn’t even looked at the kitchen, I had no idea, I didn’t care. I just found the light and knew that I could make it work, and we just kept going.”
Within the first two days of living there, Pryor had paint samples brushed on the Laura Ashley teal walls that encased most of the main floor. The orange-yellow living room also required attention; she’s since painted it five times. The items to tackle were significant – from shag carpet to oak trimmings and florescent lights – but rather than feeling intimidated, she welcomed the project.
When it comes to decorating, her goal has always been happiness. “We had our first apartment when Andrew moved out [from Australia], and even then it was like, I want to make this happy,” she says.
“I love being home.” She repeats the statement, this time with more emphasis.
She’s made one of the busiest spots in her house – the dining room – a focus. The large wooden table she picked up from a farmer just outside St. Albert has a cozy, rustic presence against an otherwise crisp, light palette – white, grey, almost plum. The dining room chairs are mismatched – four wood, four white – and yet appear to belong together. Above, a striking chandelier creates a sense of luxury and warmth. The sideboards are antique, like many items throughout the house, from the family heirlooms that hang on the walls to an antique Heriz rug, circa 1880, in the upstairs landing.
The love for antiques is inherited from her parents (her father refinished a century-old bed for her 16th birthday), and most pieces made the long journey – by boat and by train – in a container from England for Plum Home + Design. “I definitely grew up in a house with coasters,” she says. “[But] it was like, you can have nice things, and you can live in the space and just learn how to live with them and respect them.”
When her sons arrived, she became more relaxed about the furnishings. “Things were really precious before I had the boys, and then your family becomes precious and your house takes a step back, and you just have to kind of let shit happen,” she says, laughing. “I have a great carpet cleaner, and a great furniture cleaner.”
Plus, each season Pryor switches out the pillows (in fact, she has her own custom line). “I have a cupboard of pillows,” she says. She also brings out blankets and sheepskin for layering and texture: “I just can’t leave the house stagnant, so I’m constantly moving things. And I always have candles burning, maybe because I have kids and dogs, and maybe because your windows are shut up in the winter. And plants, because they clean the air, I love having some green in the house in the winter. It keeps me happy.
“I think I love hard, whatever I love,” she says.
Family. Love. Happiness. For Pryor, it seems she’s found the keys to a well-decorated home.