Home CultureBlack-Owned Shamika Lynch: An Interior Designer in JC Working Magic on Tiny Spaces

Shamika Lynch: An Interior Designer in JC Working Magic on Tiny Spaces

by Katherine Chaves Diaz
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Shamika Lynch of Jersey City is an interior designer and mother of two young boys. Shamika knew so many people who were trying to make the most out of their small spaces, so she decided to craft her interior design business to focus on smaller areas. Shamika has the ability to optimize spaces to maximize functionality, while still having a beautiful aesthetic. She wants everyone to know that you can live small and still have a big life, big style, and big joy. Read on to learn more about Shamika and her interior design skills.

Hoboken Girl: How long have you lived in Jersey City + what inspired you to move here?  

Shamika Lynch: I’ve lived in Jersey City for three years. Prior to that we lived in Bayonne for four years but spent most of our time in Jersey City, so decided to just live in Jersey City.

HG: What inspired you to get into the business of maximizing tiny spaces? 

SL: When we lived in Bayonne, our apartment was a 1 bedroom with 1 closet in the entire home. Soon after we renewed our lease for the 4th year, we discovered that we were expecting our first child. Immediately, everyone told us we had to move and there was no way our home could support a baby, but I knew I couldn’t possibly be the only person to attempt to have a baby in a one-bedroom apartment, so I scoured the internet for solutions. There weren’t very many resources available, so once I figured out how to make it work for my own family, I was inspired to try my hand at making it work for other small-space dwellers.

HG: Tell us about Maximizing Tiny’s mission + overall services.

SL: Our mission is to create optimal solutions that enable small (and awkward) spaces to function beautifully. We offer everything from consultations that empower clients to make present and future design decisions in their homes independently, to full-scale design that includes renovating a home to create aesthetic and functional solutions. Many of our clients fall in between, with room makeovers that include a complete layout revision to optimize flow and function as well as custom design selections that reflect the style of each client.

Read More: This Jersey City Interior Designer Created a Makeover Biz for Rentals

HG: What has been the most challenging tiny space to transform?

SL: Each space has its own challenges. The funny thing is that the nature of our niche attracts mostly challenging spaces. Each space requires custom solutions, especially in this area with the older homes and their many doorways, fireplaces, and unique mysteries. I love challenges because they always inspire creative solutions.

HG: What are three tips you would give to someone with a small apartment on how to maximize their space to work for them?

SL: Declutter! You don’t need more space, you need less stuff. Refine your color palette. The eye needs to see consistency in order to flow through the space.  By creating a consistent palette, you are telling your eye where to look.  A consistent color palette helps the eye to travel effortlessly across the space. Lastly, multipurpose furniture. There’s no space for lazy furniture. It’s simple: you want to take up space, you gotta have at least two jobs. It’s a must! So, before you buy anything, think about its purpose and placement in your home.

HG: Who or what is your biggest source of inspiration?

SL: My clients! Every client I work with makes me a better designer. I’m perpetually inspired by the challenges that my clients face to create customized solutions and to get even more creative each time. The challenges fuel me.

HG: What are your goals for this year?

SL: One of my major goals is to have my designs featured in a publication.  I am also working on launching a course for small-space dwellers.

HG: What’s a typical day look like for you?

SL: I drop my kids off at school/daycare and then start my workday. I usually meet with clients either virtually or in person while the kids are at school or daycare. I try to structure my day in blocks so that I can handle meetings in the morning, and then head home to work on the computer for a bit before the kids get back home. My favorite thing about having clients in the Jersey City/Hoboken area is the short commute and the ability to get to most places on foot, especially since I haven’t owned a car since 2015. I actually just finished up a kitchen in the Heights neighborhood of Jersey City.

maximizing tiny

(Photo credit: Melissa Cacioppo Architectural Photography)

HG: Tell us more about the kitchen you just remodeled.

SL: This kitchen is based in the Heights neighborhood of Jersey City in a 19th-century home. My clients purchased this home in 2019 shortly before welcoming their first child and the original kitchen footprint was still very much intact. We wanted to capture the warmth of the original home by including classic details while still keeping it up to date and modern.

HG: Do you have a favorite part about the kitchen?

SL: The arch! It actually wasn’t in the original scope of work. I was over at the house for a site visit and Eric (@builtbyhane) and I were looking at the newly opened wall with the newly installed support beam and newly installed cabinets and everything looked a bit too new. We needed to incorporate a bit of edge and a classic touch to the kitchen. The arch did just that. In an afternoon, we templated an arch and decided to implement it. The clients were pleasantly surprised. Amazing things can happen when a client trusts their design team.

maximizing tiny

(Photo credit: Melissa Cacioppo Architectural Photography)

HG: How long did the renovation take in total?

SL: The actual renovation took 7 months from demo to finish. The planning phase, however, started in November of 2021 (about 15 months before the kitchen was complete).

HG: Did you encounter any unexpected challenges?

SL: Not really, a major part of managing a renovation project is expecting the unexpected. We had a smooth project for the most part and were quite lucky working during COVID. We didn’t even have any serious supply delays, however, towards the end, a few of our tradespeople got sick and we pushed our install schedule to err on the safe side.

maximizing tiny

(Photo credit: Melissa Cacioppo Architectural Photography)

HG: Is there anything else you would like to share about the space?

SL: The original footprint of this kitchen was around 35 square feet — after the renovation and opening up a wall it was around 55 square feet. An average size kitchen for a home this size (about 2, 000 square feet) is about 160+ square feet.

See More: Interior Designers in Montclair + Beyond: Making Spaces into Homes

HG: What has been the highlight in your career/life so far?

SL: Being featured in Apartment Therapy at the beginning of this year was a game changer for my business!

HG: Anything else you want to share about Maximizing Tiny?

SL: I also do commercial spaces. In fact, two of my residential clients have opened businesses that I’ve been given the honor of working on.

Local Fun

HG: What is your favorite restaurant in Hoboken or Jersey City?

SL: Frankies for regular date nights + Brunch. Kitchen Step for celebratory dinners with friends. B18 and Light Horse Tavern for family brunch.

HG: What is your favorite boutique in Hoboken or Jersey City?

SL: Love Locked!

HG: What do you love most about Hoboken/Jersey City?

SL: I love the small-town feel of Bergen-Lafayette. It’s rich with culture, small business love, and family-friendly.

HG: What is your favorite thing to do in Hudson County?

SL: Walking! The walkability is unbeatable.

HG: Tell us about another business in the area you admire. 

SL: The Grind Trifecta: The Grind Coffee Shop, The Grind General Store, and The Grind Outpost. Mike Clark is just slowly, but surely taking over Bergen-Lafayette and I love seeing black-owned businesses win.

Also, Tia Planta. I love Shayla Cabrera and we’ve worked together quite a bit. Every time I source a plant for my client’s home, it’s from Tia Planta. Fun fact, I’ve gotten mistaken for her on more than one occasion. I’ll take it as a compliment!

HG: What is your favorite outdoor place to spend time in Hoboken or Jersey City?

SL: I love walking the boardwalk by the marina in Paulus Hook.

HG: What is your favorite place to work out in Hudson County?

SL: Ballet at Jersey City Ballet although I haven’t been in a few weeks. 

HG: Where do you go out with friends in the area?

SL: Usually, Frankies for meals or Lackawanna on Grove for Coffee.

HG: What is something you think needs to come to Hoboken or Jersey City?

SL: My neighborhood desperately needs a grocery store!

To learn more about Maximizing Tiny, follow Shamika on Instagram or e-mail her for inquires.

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