For as long as she can remember, Jen Howard, owner of JWH Design & Cabinetry, has loved designing houses.
By Caitlin Brown
For as long as she can remember, Jen Howard, owner of JWH Design & Cabinetry, has loved designing houses. She and her builder/husband Rob, both Rye natives, have lived in more than 20 in their marriage. For years, their business was mainly contracting — doing other people’s homes. Their keen sense for knowing what a house needs translated into spec projects.
“We would build a new home and people would want our house,” says Jen.
Over the years, having learned by doing — the construction, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, etc.— they realized there was a niche in custom-made cabinetry. Jen did renderings of what she wanted and then had the cabinets made. Often, what she received was not up to her standards. Today, the Howards have their own mill in Pennsylvania.
Based almost entirely on referrals and word of mouth, Jen has built a solid reputation building beautiful kitchens and cabinetry over more than a decade. Her company prides itself on innovative, functional, unique, and high quality custom cabinetry that stands the test of time. What’s more, is the service she provides for all aspects of the design process.
“My favorite thing is when clients come in saying, I don’t know what to do,” Jen says. “I love those because it let’s me guide them through—help them with whether it makes sense to build out or work within an existing space.”
Jen works with architects, contractors (her husband among them), and designers, but also has her own in-house operation if a customer chooses to use just her services. She and her team like to work on projects from their inception to end.
The full-service design firm opened its showroom (just south of CVS on Boston Post Road) four years ago. Clients mostly arrange appointments in advance (especially if they want to see Jen who’s a busy woman and often out of the office on-site), but all are welcome to stop in and see a variety of cabinet designs, countertop materials, and hardware.
Clients who want the best keep coming back. During our interview, Jen took a break to help a client of hers in San Francisco figure out how to approach the layout of her new kitchen. Jen clicked on the wall screen (computer) and showed a preliminary rendering using state-of-the-art software.
Everything JWH does is top-of-the-line in terms of materials and technology. Just recently, they acquired a CNC milling machine at their factory in Pennsylvania, which allows for greater production for high-end retail displays. Among their new clients are Michael Kors, Juicy Couture, and Steve Madden. How did these top designers learn about this Rye-based company? Word of mouth, of course — a company they had worked with doing build-outs recommended them.
Jen Howard, and her no-longer-little company, is thriving because of clients who appreciate the 25 years of background and experience she brings to their projects.