This chic New York mom and designer Simona Levin “creates out of the ordinary”
“We were looking for the closest thing we could find to the Hamptons that was still within a commutable distance,” says interior designer Simona Levin of her family’s journey from the city to the suburbs—Westport, specifically. “We visited on a warm fall day and drove by the beach playground. We drove around for hours and loved the country roads, the fences, and the old rock walls. It was all so idyllic.”
It was also a big change for this native New Yorker. Simona grew up on the Upper West Side and, prior to moving to the ‘burbs, she and her family called Tribeca “home.”
When the family began exploring the suburbs, they were juggling family life and professional commitments, which made choosing the right town even more important. As a mom of three, Simona wanted great schools, great neighbors and a great community to raise her family. And, as the founder of Winding Lane Design, an interior design firm with projects in New York City, Long Island, Connecticut and Nantucket, she knew she needed to be somewhere that inspired, while still being close to the city. Westport checked all of the boxes.
Now a full-fledged suburbanite, Simona admits her experiences out of the city have brought her around to things she wouldn’t have appreciated before. Having one foot in the city and one in the suburbs, she can truly strike a balance between her urban roots and suburban surroundings, helping her diverse client base achieve their visions.
“My style has definitely evolved in some of my projects,” Simona explains. “I can better combine vintage with modern and embrace the warmer characters of older homes. I love embracing the imperfections—to live with them and work around them. That’s definitely changed for me since I moved to the suburbs.” What else has changed is her appreciation for older architecture and seasonal inspirations—and there’s no shortage of either in Westport.
“I appreciate older architecture and older homes more than I ever did,” she says. “Granted, I love modern and new construction—my aesthetic has always been more modern. But there’s nothing better than the nooks and crannies of an older home, and I love embracing that style.”
She also recognizes “the color palette in Connecticut influences some of my design choices now,” noting how seasonal changes are appearing more and more in her work. “I’m not a color person,” she notes, “but people use a lot more color here and I find myself incorporating softer tones and saturated tones. Overall it’s just something I’m way more open to now.”
Finding the urban/suburban balance
That said, Simona continues to commute into the city throughout the week, for sourcing and client meetings. But, she adds, there’s still a lot to discover in the suburbs. “As a designer who can go in a few days a week and source, it’s great. But Westport and Bedford and other towns have tons of home stores that offer a lot. If I couldn’t go into the city as often as I did, I’d be lucky to be here where there’s a tremendous amount to discover.”
Discovery, she adds, has always been critical to her personal and professional approach—and it’s something she encourages city families to dive into when exploring the suburbs. Simona encourages her clients to explore, discover and focus on finding the right home to meet their needs, lifestyle and budget. Often, she notes, that doesn’t mean going with the biggest house on the block.
“Bigger is not always better,” she explains, echoing a sentiment Suburban Jungle has shared with its clients since day one. “I see so many amazing houses that are empty inside for years. I always tell my clients, ‘find a home that you can afford to furnish.’ There’s nothing better than a cozy house on a cold winter night!”
Starting with the SUBURB
She’s also passionate about finding the right community first, in-line with Suburban Jungle’s own “town-first” approach. If you find the right suburb, the house will come—and our expert team constantly reminds city families it’s not about bedrooms and bathrooms but about the environment, the community, and the people. Simona agrees, and notes more and more of her downtown peers are now making the leap. Coming from a loft, the family designed a modern farmhouse with that same open loft feel to it.
“There’s definitely a city interpretation,” she explains, “and interestingly I’m seeing that more now. People are moving from downtown and have an edgier approach to design, whereas they used to come from the Upper East and Upper West Sides, almost exclusively.”
Once city families find the town and the house, Simona says, she and her expert design services can help transform those properties into true homes. “Our spaces are meticulously curated around our client’s personal style,” her site explains. “Each space is a unique and individual reflection of those who define it.” The goal, ultimately, is to create stunning spaces that tell stories, and that create exceptional home experiences out of the ordinary.
At the end of the day, Simona and her family love life in Westport, and they see the unparalleled benefits of moving to suburbia. “Being able to sit outside and feed your kids dinner into October, or have dinner on Sunday nights when you’d be commuting from your second home—that’s a luxury,” she says. “Appreciate what it is.”
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Simona Levin (interview)