I was delighted to discover Julieann of Jace Interiors, a Boston-based designer, via decor8: Hi Julieann, we’re so happy that you’ve stopped by to chat with us about your interior design practice. Can you please tell us about Jace Interiors?
julieann: Yes of course, Holly! I am based in Cambridge, MA and live in one of the sweetest squares, I adore my apartment here. Jace started in 2002 when I kept hearing people talk about how intimidated they were by designers so I decided to start a company with the motto ?Your home, Your style, My assistance – Design With What You Have!? I wanted to make it accessible for everyone. Every home deserves to be beautiful. I offer services from assisting realtors in staging houses to helping the homeowner define their style and than make it become reality! Sometimes it involves just placing the furniture they have, hanging pictures and picking paint colors. I love designing with what people already own. It?s like a great puzzle to be put together!
decor8: Can you please tell us about your background?
julieann: Certainly! My background began in fashion and visual merchandising. I started creating windows on Newbury Street. Later I worked as a VM at Ethan Allen for years, amazing training! I had 35 rooms to do with as I pleased. Sometimes I would create traditional rooms, sometimes ultimate contemporary spaces. You had to speak to the customer without saying a word; it was a great compliment when someone would walk into a room and say “ohh this is so me!” I also worked in the Boston Design Center which was a fabulous experience. The fabric showrooms alone are a little slice of heaven!
decor8: Can you describe an initial design consultation?
julieann: Usually I take a tour of the house just to get a sense of their personality; I ask them to show me some of their favorite pieces and also to take a look at their closet. Clothing palette can tell a lot about someone. We talk about what they have now and what they envision. Discussing how the room will be used is huge, everyone is different and the more you talk the more people become focused.
decor8: On your second visit, do you bring your design boards or do you use another way to convey the end result to the client?
julieann: Most of what I do can be performed in a single day. Yes, really! I love to get in there and move things around because it gives the client confidence and instant gratification. If I am scouting for a client we make a second appointment to pull everything together and show them an idea folder. Sometimes they need to do things in stages and the folder is a great item to have to be inspired again after time has passed.
decor8: If this isn’t too forward, what are your rates? Do you ever travel outside of Boston for clients?
julieann: I usually travel within one hour of Boston but for special projects, I would consider going a bit further out. Every project is a bit different and so are the rates. Jace Interiors is all about ?affordable design? and starts at $75 per hour.
decor8: How do you promote your business?
julieann: Daily Candy helped! What a rush. Most of my business though is from referrals and by word of mouth. When I first started, I sent emails to friends and family with Jace updates and tips to help spread the word and to get people talking.
decor8: Let’s talk about a few things decor8 readers may need help with. For one, color. Most clients (I find) are quite scared when it comes to using their favorite colors. How can we best incorporate color into the home?
julieann: I am a huge fan of accents. Our favorite color changes sometimes with the season so using it on pillows or incorporating it into wall decor is key. Using one color with the fabrics being different textures and tones creates great interest. If they are committed to the color and have been for years than I say lets go, lets paint!
decor8: When did you know that you wanted to work in the design field?
julieann: When I was younger, everyone else was watching cartoons and I was the girl watching Style with Elsa Klensch on CNN, I was mesmerized by all the beauty! I think it was a natural progression from Fashion to Interiors but I have always been inspired by color and furniture and how it can change your mood and create a certain atmosphere. Also when I was walking into spaces?friends homes, restaurants, stores and changing things around in my head it was a good sign. I also have a hard time focusing until I look at everything in a space. It is a joke when I visit friends, they know I don?t settle in until I have looked at everything, I am always intrigued with how people live and the pieces they have. Visual excitement.
decor8: Can you describe your personal design style?
julieann: That is a loaded question. :) Part of the reason I like design is because I am all over the place, I always joke that I need to have a few houses, depending on my mood is the house I live in. Okay, back to reality… My personal style is clean, crisp with a bit of whimsy. Also comfortable and warm. I like a room to be able to breathe and not be overloaded with things. My office is a tiny space of 6×5 so everything has a place! My bulletin board from Ballard Designs is my life savor, every piece of inspiration or interest goes on there and it fills half the wall but I love it! My style is also to have modern pieces with something old or sentimental?I love pieces that have a good story. Unexpected features that get people talking are always a good thing. In my office there is a quote I had Wonderful Graffiti make for me ?in order to be irreplaceable one must be different? Coco Chanel. I saw it when I was 16 and have lived by it ever since. Most homeowners want to be ?safe? but they also want to be different than the neighbor.
decor8: What is the first thing you notice upon entering a space?
julieann: It is not a specific thing I see, it’s the overall feeling. How do I feel and does it reflect the people that live there? I?m drawn to pieces that make the room unique.
decor8: What are some common design issues that you face?
julieann: Art installed at the wrong height – this drives me mad! Too much furniture or the incorrect positioning of it. Having furniture that is too big for the space, big doesn?t always equal comfort. I say you need to let the room breathe.
decor8: How do you stay on top of trends in the industry?
julieann: I’m not a person that usually follows trends – I think they are good for accessories, but not the big pieces. I am constantly talking to other designers whether it is fashion, graphic or interiors. It is all related. I keep a close eye on the fashion world, the fabrics and patterns will ultimately end up on interior fabric and pieces. In the spring 2007 line Carolina Herrara used some gorgeous patterned fabrics; I can?t wait to see those patterns translate to bedding, panels and other pieces! FUN! I am also a HUGE magazine addict and I try to make trips down to North Carolina and to NYC, for some people it is visual overload but for me it is a playground, I am so inspired when I come home.
decor8: Let’s say someone is looking to pull together a new look for their home. With so much at hand, how do you suggest one get started?
julieann: Take inventory of what you have and what you want to give away. Next work on getting the basics if you don?t have them already?sofa, bed, kitchen table. Then define your style and how you want the space to be used. Paint would be next if you?re on a budget as it is instant gratification and gives the entire space direction.
decor8: What advice do you have for those looking to spruce things up on a budget?
julieann: Set a plan and prioritize your needs, I always say things are done in stages, this is also a good way not to get overwhelmed. Pulling items together makes a big difference, clear out the clutter and focus on the bones of the room and how you will use it. For instance, if you love to read in your bedroom, maybe the comfy chair you never use in the living room should be used in the bedroom to make a nice quiet reading corner. I also believe that you should have your favorite pieces where you can enjoy them. If your favorite picture from London is hanging in the dining room where you never see it, put it in a place you are everyday. Maybe the kitchen or the living room. Just because you have had a piece in a certain room for years doesn?t mean you can?t move it to give it new life. Also invest in a good area rug because it makes a strong statement and can group the few things you have together.
decor8: Let’s address renters for a moment. Most cannot make structural or cosmetic changes to the space itself (cabinets, tile, flooring, paint, etc.). Where do you suggest they start given these limitations?
julieann: Accents! If you have a big wall and want to add color, purchase a large piece of canvas from the art store and add paint for instant color. You can also visit your local copy store with your favorite photo, they can blow it up for you for your wall, another inexpensive piece of wall decor with a pop of color. FLOR is a great company and can add amazing interest to your areas with little investment. You can also take it with you when you leave.
decor8: Where do you find inspiration?
julieann: I can find inspiration anywhere. Sometimes during a walk around the city, simply admiring the outfit of a passerby – their color combination, for instance. Even something as abstract as a billboard inspires me. The Tate Gallery in London is one of my absolute favorite places because it is so calming and beautiful. I am so lucky to live in Boston because of the great architecture and natural color. I am drawn to a great window or store display, too. I love Anthropologie and all the store windows in the South End and on Newbury Street.
decor8: Who are some of your favorite designers and why?
julieann: Most of my favorite designers are from the fashion world: Carolina Herrera, Tom Ford, Zac Posen. I am drawn to clean lines and being able to see whats going on whether in a garment or in a room. I also love David Netto, everything he does is wonderfully pulled together and creates such interest with comfort, I love it! I have been following Angela Adams for years and continue to love her rugs they are the perfect punch of color. Susan Sargent also creates interesting pillows.
decor8: And finally, what are ten things that you can’t live without?
julieann: Fashion and design magazines, Kiehl’s leave-in conditioner and lip balm, my morning tea, collection of vintage tablecloths, my ultra warm chocolate double chenille throw, digital camera, Chanel, Diane von Furstenberg, Jackie O and Audrey Hepburn books, my idea/scouting book (which goes with me everywhere), city life, and warm olives at the Oleana restaurant here in Cambridge, YUM!
Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Julieann. Such a pleasure!
Readers: If you live in the Boston area and seek affordable design assistance, please consider contacting Julieann of Jace Interiors. She can be reached at: 617.435.2240 or jaceinteriors.com
(images from jace interiors)