Finding her career path early in life has ensured that interior designer Jen Dallas loves what she does, delivering a trusted vision to her clients.
Jen, tell us a bit about yourself.
I have lived in LA for over 20 years and am originally from Chicago. I am an interior designer and have my own studio, Jen Dallas Interiors. We mainly do residential work from remodeling a home to ground-up construction. I love what I do and am grateful I found my career path early in my life. My studio recently ventured into product design and launched Maple Jude & Co., a lifestyle shop for the home. We have our own line of textiles and ceramic tiles. We are going to launch our own wallpaper line in the Spring of 2023. I also recently launched my first lighting collection, which is very exciting!
Did you have an influence in your youth that shaped your career path?
My parents were both very encouraging of being creative and thinking outside the box. I was brought up being around a lot of artists and creative people. Being a child of the 70s was such an amazing time to be a kid. I took so many art classes and had amazing teachers that always encouraged my creativity too.
When did you start your firm, Jen Dallas Interiors?
I started my interior design studio in 2008, a year after my son was born. I always say he was the good luck charm that pushed me to do it. I had always dreamed of my own business. Being a new mom, I started it so I could have more to be with my son, and have never looked back.
What and who inspires you?
I am inspired by good design. Anything from a toaster to a design of a car to the colors of a flower. As creative people, we see inspiration everywhere. I love going to people’s homes. I find it fascinating to see how people live and what collections they have and what stories their homes tell me. I am inspired by how vintage and antiques can add character to a home. It will instantly add a layer that a new home needs to allow it to feel livable and comfortable. That inspires me.
Do you have a signature style when it comes to interior design for clients?
I find that my own style is edited and clean. I always pay special attention to the architecture and how that follows into the interior. I have classical training and love that to melt into a modern sensibility. I love functional spaces that are beautiful and inspire the people that live there.
When working with clients, how do you persuade them to see your vision without it coming across like it’s your idea?
I try to convey my vision in such a way that it assists my clients see it. I am old school and still sketch my ideas out for clients. When my clients get excited about the ideas and even start to own the ideas as their own, then I have done a good job.
What are/have been the biggest challenges in your career?
I don’t think of life like that; challenges are just things to move through and figure out how to shift so things work out better. When you face a challenge, it just means something isn’t working out as well as it could, and life takes over to make it better for everyone involved.
Important lessons along the way?
Being selective in the jobs I choose to do. Not trying to be everything to everyone. Staying strong in my abilities and choosing clients that I can serve and be proud of what we accomplish together.
The favorite part of your job?
Sharing my vision with my client who trusts me to deliver it. When we are installing it and they see the vision we have discussed for months or even sometimes years and get excited about the final product.
Talk us through a timeless interior design style.
Timeless is the comfort and confidence that a home or a room conveys when it completed the architecture perfectly. It is a use of color that feels fresh and doesn’t overtake the room or home. The materials used from the flooring, molding selections, countertops, tile, and fabrics are quality and are made to test time. For me, timeless design is when one room flows into the other flawlessly and is married to architecture. Where it feels like it has always been that way and will still look good years from now.
Is there a right and wrong when it comes to decorating? Please explain.
There are rules that work when decorating, and scale is very important in that application. Scale and proportion are huge considerations when designing spaces. I love when a room feels to scale and not overdone. Positive and negative spaces are pivotal when it comes to interiors. An area with nothing (negative space) is as important as placing pieces. It is a balance and when it is wrong, you feel it immediately. Lighting is an imperative consideration when decorating, whether it is natural daylight or lamping, and places a huge impact on our spaces.
How does one keep things modern/timeless without breaking the bank?
Keeping things simple is the best way to not break the bank. Way too many designs do too much. Every wall and every floor don’t have to have a “WOW” factor. Give space to the “WOW” and you will find that the wow you do give the home stands out even more.
Do you believe in repurposing dated pieces or should one simply shop for new ones?
I like to repurpose. I love vintage and antiques. I love it when a client has something that is sentimental to them, and we can repurpose it in such a way that makes it work within our new design. I have a client right now that had to take down his 1920s bungalow, but we saved molding from his original home and even a built-in cabinet from his original home. We are retrofitting it to work at the top of the stairs and painting it white to fit into his new more modern home. Every time he sees it, he connects to the old home that he loved for 30 years. Yes, I am huge on repurposing!
Have there been projects you have declined? If yes, why?
I have declined projects. There have been a few that I should have declined, and I learned from each of those experiences. I have been doing this for a long time and have learned who I am as a designer and who are the best clients for me. I interview my projects as much as they are interviewing me. I want to know that I have served my client and am doing an amazing job for them. If something feels off or I know I am not the right person I will decline. My priority in doing the work I do is to serve my clients 100% and if I can’t do that then I want them to find someone that can. If it is wrong for me, it is wrong for them too.
What do you do for fun?
I love spending time with my son. We like to travel and have adventures together. I love nature and the beach. I am a foodie and love scoping out new eateries. I can also be found at the flea market on most weekends.
Are any exciting plans on the horizon?
I just was offered a rug deal and will be designing rugs! I am also working on my own furniture collection due out in late 2023. Besides that, we are excited to have some new projects in the studio including designing our first winery.