You may recognize Jillian Harris as the star of ABC’s "The Bachelorette," but recently, Tori Tait (the newest member of Daily Grommet's community team), had the opportunity to get to know more about Jillian Harris, the Designer. Listen in as she and Jillian talk shop:
Jillian, can you tell us a bit about when you first discovered your interest for interior design?
Oh this is a good one! I think I was destined for a creative career. My dad has always been crafty, and my mother is a painter (oil and water color) as well as an incredible decorator. I remember being about 7 years old and wanting to repaint and re-arrange my room. After doing my own room several times in one month, I trotted over to a friend’s house and proceeded to paint her walls and furniture, and even order new bedding from the Sears catalogue with her mom's consent (remember this Kendra!?). When I was 14, my mom opened a gift store. I helped her design the store and purchase the products. From there, I went on to the restaurant industry and of course designing my own home. I love textiles, fabrics, colors (especially whites), art, architecture and fashion.
You grew up in Peace River Alberta, Canada; did your geographical setting have any influence on the type of designer you evolved to be?
Definitely! My style is still very low-brow/high-brow. Meaning, I'll mix a crystal chandelier with a bone white elk antler ... or faux fur pillows with a mirrored side table. I love natural raw materials with a twist like birch covered items and wild flowers.
How would you describe your design sense? Is it at all reflective of your personal style?
For sure -- I'm pretty practical when I decorate and dress. Actually I think it’s easier to describe my decorating style by relating it to my fashion sense. For example, I love to pair high end jeans with a tank from Forever 21, then add some high end boots from eBay... right?
Don't blow the bank ladies, but putting together your look takes work. The more you work at it, the more creative you can get, and the better the outcome.
I love vintage items (I also shop garage sales)! Find old dressers and paint them white. Or better yet, hot pink in an all crème room! Then ONE or TWO prize pieces that you saved up for.
My prize pieces are:
1. A Joan Miro original
2. A Neiman Marcus Greyhound dog, very Kelly Wearstler
3. My white-on-white Louis chairs
Well, ok, that's THREE items. My advice, then, is don't be afraid to go to the 'gasp' box stores like IKEA or Target for some staples. Long story short, I would never spend more than $300 on a purse (yeah, that's right!) but I can sure make it look like I did ... and I apply that same theory for home décor.
I read that you mainly design restaurant spaces; do you have a favorite that you are especially proud of?
Oh boy, that's hard! I would have to say to date would be Scotty Browns in Bellingham, WA (pictured here), because the owners were so trusting with the design.
If you had to design your entire home using only one color, which would it be and why?
Yikes! I hate to sound boring, but probably off white or crème. I just find it fresh and clean. White cheers me up and makes me feel grown up.
Do you have any tips you can share for those of us who may want to redecorate our living space but just aren’t sure where to start?
Don't do it all at once- even if you are excited to re-design. I did that once when I was about 21, racked up about $3,000 on a credit card and then was bored of it in a month.
I say if you have a vision, figure out how to 'document it' by either scrapbooking, sketching, tearing out magazine covers, fabrics anything -- and then slowly make it happen ... like a painting. My bedroom in Vancouver was stark until about a year after I moved in...and then one day I knew what it should look like. Now it's this fluffy, white, and soft grey-blue oasis!
Also, artwork should NEVER be rushed. Even if you have a white wall... work at your art. Go to auctions, antique stores, etc., and get something unique and something that defines you. A great example is a favorite pair of jeans that have seen their day, framed in a big white or black frame. Or your mom’s wedding dress, framed with a bright colored background.
Thanks for letting Daily Grommet in on your design secrets, Jillian! It's great to see how you've created a style that's both upscale yet attainable. If you want to know more about Jillian (and even see where she shops) you can check out her website, www.JillianHarris.com and follow her on Twitter: @DesignerJillian