A-list interior designer reveals his secrets, tips and tricks as a Houston appearance looms
Good design only comes with a curated layering of collections, textures and materials, an overlapping process that brings energy and soul to a home.
That's the philosophy interior designer Jay Jeffers shares in his debut monograph, Jay Jeffers: Collected Cool: The Art of Bold, Stylish Interiors. Founder of the full-scale Jeffers Design Group based in San Francisco, the Texas native will be back in the Lone Star State to expound on his style at the Houston Design Center's Spring Market on April 1.
Jeffers will be joined by two other design luminaries, Alexa Hampton of Alexa Hampton Inc. in New York and Michael G. Imber of San Antonio's Michael G. Imber Architects, in a keynote panel discussion at 11 a.m. in the Alkusari Stone Showroom, Suite 229, at the center. Robin K. Mueck, president and CEO of Heritage Texas Properties, moderates the talk. Book signings by all three honorees with their most recent publications will follow.
Reservations are free but are required and due by midnight March 31. To secure a seat and for more details, visit the center's website.
Jeffers, from Plano, earned his degree in international business and marketing from the University of Texas at Austin. Initially thinking he would enter the world of advertising, he moved to San Francisco to do just that for Gap. His spare time endeavors, however, awakened his innate calling to interior design.
"I knew I wanted to have my own business someday," he tells CultureMap in a phone interview. "By chance, I enrolled in an introductory interior design class about a year later, just taking it for fun. And I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it."
It didn't take long for Jeffers to make that professional shift, and in 1991, he began Jay Jeffers Design Group.
Today, Jeffers is recognized for his fearless and inventive use of color and pattern and his creative mix of art and furniture. He was named by Elle Décor to its A-List of the country's top interior designers in 2011, 2012 and 2013. He has designed homes in San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Tahoe, Los Angeles, New York and even his mother's penthouse in downtown Austin.
"I'd first say to everyone to not be afraid of small spaces. I often paint those a dark color and do big colors on pillows and other accents. Be bold and daring."
In 2013, Ritz-Carlton commissioned Jeffers to fashion the signature penthouses for the luxurious Ritz-Carlton residences in Lake Tahoe.
"That was probably my first high-profile project," Jeffers says. "The hotel had already been built, so I was hired to decorate the homes on the top floor. The owners and I worked in sync to create a lively, energetic look that made reference to the mountains but not with leather and horses and horns."
Throughout his budding career, Jeffers says he took thousands of photos of his work himself to keep his portfolio within budget. When finances allowed, he did turn to professional photographers to capture vignettes. "This is such a visual business, so I had to record projects to share them with potential clients," he says.
That thorough and detailed photographic record came in quite handy at a design conference in Venice, where Jeffers happened to meet a woman who was a book design consultant. "I later sent her all my images, probably showing the last 10 years of my work mainly in the California Bay area. We worked for months on arranging them in to categories and, finally, she took the proposal to Rizzoli. Within a week, the book deal was secured," he says.
Collected Cool is organized into four chapters, those being "Collected Cool," "Bold Bespoke," "Unabashed Glamour" and "Casual Chic." Jeffers offers CultureMap a synopsis of each.
"'Collected Cool' shows that layering process with textures and materials, giving energy and soul to a home," he says. "'Bold Bespoke' deals more with those custom details that are completely unique to your home. 'Unabashed Glamour' is just that: All about sparkle and excitement. And 'Casual Chic' addresses a really relaxed and comfortable style of living."
Jeffers adds he is "thrilled" to be published and feels honored to be able to share with — and hopefully inspire — readers with Collected Cool. "I've always been a big fan of design books, and I'm excited that I have now one to offer as a reference for others to use."
Before parting, Jeffers shares with CultureMap five important tips for any decorating endeavors.
Small spaces. "I'd first say to everyone to not be afraid of small spaces," Jeffers says. "I often paint those a dark color and do big colors on pillows and other accents. Be bold and daring."
Lighting. "Put a dimmer on everything," he says. "Lighting can make or break a room."
Family photos. "Some people scatter them about a house, but I like to keep them in groupings," Jeffers says. "In one project, I converted all photos to black and white, framed them in similar frames and then arranged them on a hall wall as a grouping."
Collections. "Collect something, whether that be art, model train cars," he says, offering as a personal example his collection of vintage creamware, which he has displayed in "controlled chaos" in a large glass-door cabinet at home. "You make more of an impact if you decorate with a collection."
Old and new. "I like to encourage people when they travel to pick up pieces that appeal to them," Jeffers says. "Having things that come from different periods and places makes a room interesting and full. I've put French Art Deco with Biedermeier, and it looks great.
"The underlying theme to my decorating, and in my book, is to make a home feel like it's been collected over time," he adds. "That's what brings soul to a room."