The Real Deal New York

The happy home marketer

Editor turned agent releases home-décor book
By Katherine Clarke | June 01, 2011 02:38PM

“The Happy Home Project”
“The Happy Home Project”
Jean Nayar had been a design editor and writer for more than 25 years when she decided to transition into real estate. A few months ago, she became an agent at residential brokerage Bond New York.

“Print was beginning to implode,” explained Nayar, a Minnesota native who has lived in New York City for 26 years. “It was my cue to make a move.”

She hasn’t entirely abandoned writing, however, and this June marks the release of her ninth home-design book, “The Happy Home Project: A Practical Guide to Adding Style and Substance to Your Home,” published by Hachette Filipacchi. (Nayar was previously editor in chief of a group of special-interest magazines on home décor and remodeling, also published by Hachette Filipacchi.)

The book was inspired, she said, by the journey of Julie Powell, the blogger whose “Julie/Julia” cooking project was portrayed in the recent film “Julie & Julia.”

The book documents Nayar’s one-year mission to improve her Battery Park City apartment after making a wish list of changes, some modest and others more extensive.

“I wanted to explore some of the ideas I’d gathered over the years, and take them for a test drive in my own home,” she said.

Primarily, Nayar reconfigured her kitchen to add storage and incorporate more streamlined and eco-friendly appliances. She also included spiritual ideas from the ancient Asian art of feng shui. “There is a heavy green-design focus in the book,” she said, “and the emotional component is something you won’t find in most design books.”

The project is about making a home look good, but “more important, feel good,” she added.

At Bond, Nayar relishes the opportunity to put her design acumen and knowledge of eco-friendly products to good use, helping sellers stage their apartments to appeal to potential buyers. “I know what will appeal to the basic common denominator [of New York buyers],” Nayar said.

She chose Bond because she views it as a creative and open organization. “I feel they’re nimble,” she said. “You have direct access to the management. You don’t get lost as an agent in their firm.”

Nayar did her first deal recently, finding a tenant for a two-bedroom apartment near her Battery Park City home. She’s now marketing an Upper West Side co-op for $925,000, and time will tell whether her success is, er, sustainable.

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