The Journal

A Considered Life with
The Primary Essentials

Photography by Jonathan Hokklo and Lilly Jonsons

With an eye for the artisanal yet functional, Lauren Snyder is a staunch advocate for independent design. In 2013 the former fashion stylist opened her Brooklyn boutique The Primary Essentials, bringing a curated offering of tabletop, ceramics, stationery and textiles – including a selection of our handmade rugs – to her discerning clientele. Lauren’s penchant for special objects that have a subtle yet distinctive presence extends to the home she shares with her architect husband. She shared her thoughts on how thoughtful, sustainable design can enhance our outlook on life.

To you, what makes a house a home?

The people who reside in it.

Do you think good design can influence our well-being? What elements are especially important to you?

Yes, I definitely do. Natural light is a huge one – I think not having natural light affects everyone even if they aren’t aware of it. Organisation and tidiness is also really important to me and I just function better when things are in order. I think good design can definitely have an impact on this, making a home have the proper spaces where space is needed.

A few years ago you renovated your Brooklyn brownstone – how did you approach that project?

My husband is an architect so I let him take the lead on all things and then I usually come in and we discuss and I give my opinion. I’m best when I’m given options and I can edit. I’m a much better editor then designer!

What features did you incorporate to make it an environmentally friendly abode?

Making the home environmentally friendly as possible in an urban setting was a really important thing for both of us, and some of the things we did to achieve this were installing solar panels, collecting all of the rain water from the roof for the garden, adding an energy recovery ventilation unit for fresh air, having high efficiency radiant heating, re-insulating the building with an added air barrier and making almost all of the lighting LED.

Studies have shown that having a strong sense of community and support network can impact our happiness levels. Have you noticed this at all, living and working in the inner city?

I have a really great sense of community both in the neighbourhood where the shop is and where I live. I have relationships with neighbours and business owners, as well as all of the vendors we work with at the store. It definitely makes living in a large city feel much smaller.

How do you disconnect and unwind from that busy, outside world when you arrive home?

My home is a really calming place for me, and keeping it clean and organised allows for me to feel relaxed as soon as I enter it. We also spend a lot of time in our backyard playing with our dog and gardening, and doing both are great ways to disconnect for my husband and myself.

What has it been like collaborating with your architect husband on your store?

I trust his ideas and vision 100%, so it is really easy to work with him. I know to just listen to him about what makes a space feel right because when I haven’t in the past I have regretted it – so I let him take the lead on design.

How do you bring that sense of mindfulness we all aspire to into your store experience?

I really try to only bring items into the store that I feel will find their way into someone’s home, will fulfil a purpose, and are made with integrity. It is what has always guided me when I buy for the store since its opening.  

Do you have any tips on how people can manage their household clutter and bring a sense of curation to their belongings?

I think one of the things I do that helps the most with clutter is to not bring things home that I do not need or will not use. I constantly clean through old things, make donations and really try to use up things in the bathroom and pantry before buying new ones.

What are some of your favourite pieces from the store that you have in your own home?

All of the ceramics I have collected over the years for sure – pieces from Natalie Weinberger, Clam Lab, Matthias Kaiser and Humble Ceramics. Also the Walter Filter for purified water – we use it everyday!


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