Mar Jennings, Emmy nominated TV host, lifestyle and garden expert, and best-selling author talks about what inspires him.
Photography by ChiChi Ubiña
Connecticut is home for me and Westport has and will forever be my foundation for everything I do. As a former competitive gold medalist figure skater I’ve had the opportunity to travel throughout the world, but I always looked forward to returning to this part of the eastern seaboard. There is something so calming about the combination of trees, water and towns that speaks to my soul, and thus Westport became the springboard for my Casual Luxury lifestyle brand.
I’m fortunate that Mar Jennings today is more than just me, the person; it’s also my lifestyle brand. ‘Mar Jennings’ is national brand with deep roots and connections to Mother Nature. I grew this step-by-step as I cultivated my passion for gardening and design. My two best-selling books, one on gardening — Life on Mar’s: A Four Season Garden– and one on maximizing décor — Life on Mar’s: Creating Casual Luxury — lead to being the spokesperson for multiple home and garden brands, assignments as a lifestyle correspondent, and coverage of my home and garden in numerous national magazines. Currently, I’m also the host of a TV series Life on Mar’s: The Home Makeover Show, and have hosted two others. My Casual Luxury design philosophy has been showcased on two different HGTV shows, where I used my six design principles to completely make over spaces. Plus in 2014, I became a real estate agent with Higgins Group, Christie’s International, and built a dynamic team of Lifestyle Realtors under the sub-brand of Mar Jennings Lifestyle Homes.
Tell us about some lifestyle trends you’ve spotted in Fairfield County?
A big trend here is something I’m an advocate of: blurring the line between indoors and out has really blossomed in the last few years. People have come to embrace the “aha” that you can live and entertain outside without it being around a pool or barbecue. You now can see sofas and dining tables outside. Of course, I like to go beyond that and create full outdoor rooms, incorporating lots of things you’d see indoors, such as side tables, coffee tables, flowers in vases, and throws. One of my core design principles is to reference Mother Nature in your rooms—which is easier than ever when you’re already outside in her glory!
Tell us about your garden and its maintenance program.
I have two luxuries with gardening: I have my trees trimmed and my grass cut. I’m responsible for everything else in my gardens and outdoor rooms. Owning Rosebrook Gardens, my in-town quarter-acre oasis, allows me a manageable property, and therefore the luxury of rolling up my sleeves and doing it myself. Rosebrook Gardens follows its own schedule—I call it my alMARnac—for year-round maintenance. The two busiest times are the early spring when I open up the Garden Studio, and the late fall clean up to put the garden to rest.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Global domination of course, and many Emmy awards! Life on Mar’s over the last decade has expanded its universe. I say that “Casual Luxury has no boundaries; it’s the cure for all design dilemmas,” so my dream for the next decade is to make it a truly global concept. I can vividly see the continuation of my already successful book series, a national show that is expanding to other markets, and millions of MARtians, which is what my fans and followers call themselves! But Life on Mar’s would be meaningless if my success didn’t allow me to use it to do some good here on planet Earth.