Greg Jordan, 48; Designed High-End Home Interiors That Were Meant to Be Lived In

Times Staff Writer

Greg Jordan, an interior designer whose client list included celebrities and socialites, died Wednesday at his home in New York City.

Jordan, 48, died of a heart attack, according to his publicist, Marisa Zafran.

A Louisiana native who first established his business in 1983 in New York, Jordan last year expanded to the West Coast, including a design studio and shop on Melrose Place in West Hollywood.

He was encouraged to make the move by Larry David of HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and his wife, Laurie, whose Martha's Vineyard house Jordan had decorated.

"I gave him one sentence: I want it to feel like my grandma left it to me, my cool grandma from Martha's Vineyard," Laurie David said Friday. "He gave me that and more."

Among his other notable clients -- all of whom seem to have become close friends -- were New York socialite Blaine Trump and actress Ashley Judd.

Jacqueline Goewey, design editor of InStyle magazine, which features Jordan's Hollywood Hills home in its current edition, said that he was known for designing "very high-end, traditional-looking interiors, impeccably done."

"Everyone always says that they make rooms that can be lived in, but lots of people don't," Goewey said. "In Greg's rooms, no matter how luxurious the fabrics, how precious the furniture, it was all meant to be lived in. Put your feet up."

Architectural Digest featured Jordan three times, most recently in January, when he was listed as one of the magazine's 30 "deans of design." The magazine's editor in chief, Paige Rense, said Jordan "was beautifully mannered; he was almost classical in his manners."

"And that seemed to be reflected in his work," Rense said. "His palette was very soft. I always had the feeling that he was inspired more by the past than by the work of another designer in the present."

Jordan, whose design work also was featured in House Beautiful, Town and Country and other magazines, believed there was "great intimacy and power in decorating."

"It's not all about poufs and chintz," he said. "Rooms that can't be lived in seem silly."

He told The Times in 2004 that he would tell young clients that their first purchase should be a good mahogany chest of drawers. Antiques, he said, held their value.

One of his first such purchases was a pair of Louis XVI walnut armchairs, which he re-covered many times through the years. Most recently, they were redone in black buffed leather for the bungalow north of Sunset Boulevard that had been built by architect John Woolf for film director George Cukor.

Friends said that Jordan was thrilled with the house, which he restored, because it was a piece of Hollywood history.

"He was in love with L.A.," Goewey said. "He fell in love with the energy, with the West Coast lifestyle."

In an interview with Times staff writer Shawn Hubler the day before his death, Jordan said he found clients in Los Angeles much easier to deal with.

"In New York, it's: 'You're paying him to do that? You could do it yourself !' But in L.A., it's: 'This is a work of art. You're freakin' amazing,' " he said. "Some of the chic-est people I know live in L.A."

Blaine Trump, who is married to Donald Trump's brother, Robert, said this week that Jordan had furnished a house for her and her husband in upstate New York.

"When you hired him, you got a course not only in decorating, but in lifestyle," Trump said. "But modern lifestyle. He loved his tennis shoes and blue jeans -- but also his Hermes jacket.... And he understood quality. He'd rather have had one cashmere throw than a hundred blankets."

Jordan's clients and friends commented on his Southern charm. "He didn't feel entitled," Rense said. "He was never arrogant. He really wanted to help people."

Rense said Jordan would be remembered "as a very good designer who died too early."

Born in Monroe, La., Jordan received a degree in English at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind. He once said he had had ambitions to be president, but later realized he "didn't care about politics -- all I really wanted was to live in the White House."

On Tuesday, Jordan told Hubler in an interview from his New York apartment that while his cross-country commute could be tiring, "I've never once gotten to Los Angeles that I haven't been just so happy to slap open those doors and go out to my little garden and have some of my little steamed vegetables my housekeepers made for me."

Jordan added that whichever coast he was on, before he went to sleep, he made sure he had "big white lilies and tuberoses by my bed, so I can know I'm home, no matter the place."

He is survived by his mother, Patricia Jordan, and brother, Jeffrey.

Services will be held Monday in New York. Details about a Los Angeles memorial will be announced later.

Times staff writers Steven Barrie-Anthony, Janet Eastman and Shawn Hubler contributed to this report.

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