Home & Garden

Q&A with interior designer and 'Collected Cool' author Jay Jeffers

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Black dining rooms, playfully patterned boudoirs, libraries with wallpapered bookcases and cleverly painted moldings. These are some of the try-this-at-home delights to be found in “Jay Jeffers: Collected Cool: The Art of Bold, Stylish Interiors” (Rizzoli, $55), the first book from San Francisco interior designer Jay Jeffers and written with Alisa Carroll, editor of San Francisco Cottages & Gardens. Having created city and country homes throughout the U.S., including a midcentury L.A. pad for skateboarder Reese Forbes, Jeffers considers the book an expression of his personal design philosophy. 

“I want every home to feel collected,” he said. “The furniture, accessories, art and personal objects should come from different periods and be of different materials. And a collection of any sort speaks to the inhabitant; these things are the soul of the house.” 

PHOTOS: 'Jay Jeffers: Collected Cool'

In an interview with L.A. at Home, Jeffers, who owns San Francisco home decor boutique Cavalier with husband Michael Purdy, talked about his own homes and decorating for others.

How do you make collections look cool?

Oftentimes, clients want to spread things throughout the home, but a collection is so much more impactful if it is grouped in one location and edited to be only the best pieces. If you have a collection of 50 mortars and pestles, let's choose the best 15. And if all 50 of them are amazing, then let’s design a specific case for them.

What do you collect? 

My husband, Michael, and I collect vintage creamware that we keep in an etagere in our dining room in St. Helena. We also have developed a collection of portraits. This was not intentional. I just started buying paintings, photography and sketches, and one day someone came into our home and said, "How long have you been collecting portraits?" It was an "Aha" moment. 

Aside from gray trim I don’t see a lot of that color in your rooms. What are your go-to paint shades? 

I do love a warm gray because just about any colors work with it, but I tend to use it sparingly. For several years, I loved persimmon and oranges. Before that: acid green. Today, it’s a dusty blue or a deep, deep forest green. Treat smaller rooms with drama -- dark paint makes rooms intimate. Even black. So many people are afraid of it, but I did a dining room in black and it’s the sexiest room ever. 

In an age of cocoon bedrooms, why are your bedroom designs so lively?

I especially get that if a client has kids, their bedroom can be the quiet, serene escape. But I have clients that might work, eat dinner, play games with the kids and watch TV in their bedroom, so why not give the bedroom a personality? At home, I put some of my favorite furniture and objects in the bedroom. It's nice to be surrounded by pieces with great memories that make me feel good.

Lightning round: What quick fixes can transform a home?

The ceiling is the most forgotten part of the home. Lacquering it in a bright color is fantastic, especially in dining rooms. Adding a color or wallpaper to the back of shelves is a nice way to get a little bit of color or pattern for someone who might think doing the entire room would be too much. Put dimmers on every light -- even under-counter lights in the kitchen. And remember: A fantastic interior is a layering process, and those layers should include scent -- fresh, clean, natural candles—and sound. I put speakers in every room, including the powder room and dressing rooms.

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