Posted by: Megan Spies
On this month’s Behind the Design, Jennifer Allison shares her top tips and tricks for executing a successful home remodel. Jennifer Allison Design is a boutique residential and commercial interior design firm in the South Bay of Southern California that focuses on all phases of new construction, remodeling, and renovation.
Jennifer has designed some truly incredible projects and I’m currently saving lots of inspiration photos from her Instagram for my upcoming remodel in the New Year. For this reason, I couldn’t wait to speak with her about this topic—we’re so lucky and proud to have her on our Thermador Design Council! Jennifer walks us through finding inspiration for your remodel project, creating a cohesive design, and how selecting a color palette for a bedroom might look different from choosing one for your kitchen.
1. Hi, Jennifer! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your work?
I graduated from FIDM with an interior design degree. I have over 20 years of experience with new home construction and major remodel construction in the South Bay area of California.
2. What are important elements to consider when beginning a remodel project?
I think it’s very important to have your selections and budget paid for and agreed to before swinging any hammers for demolition. I always say it’s better to have stuff waiting for you than you waiting for it since lead times can be long. If everything is ordered and ready to go, your project will go much faster and you’ll have a much smoother experience.
3. How do you decide where to begin with a project? Does your client often come with inspiration and ideas first?
I always start a project with collecting inspiration pictures from my clients and ask them if there are any cherished items they would like to include in their home. This gives me a great starting point to figure out their style and how I can work to incorporate their sentimental items into the design.
4. How do you approach choosing a color scheme, fixtures, etc.? How does designing a kitchen’s palette differ from a bedroom palette?
I always start this process by collecting all of my client’s inspiration photos and looking at them as a whole. From there, I’m able to analyze and pick up common themes throughout their photos to determine the look they are going for. Then I create a mood board to make sure all parts of the room complement each other to make a cohesive look; for kitchens I’ll pull tile, counter, and cabinet samples; for bedrooms and living spaces I’ll pull fabric, furniture finish, and window covering samples.
5. Are there any design rules you follow in terms of making all spaces in the home feel cohesive?
One rule I follow in my designs is starting with the least expensive options while still working toward a beautiful, cohesive design. Whether it be lighting or tile, I like to start with less expensive options for my clients; if those don’t work I then work toward the more expensive options. Also, using your more expensive materials in small but powerful ways is important. For example, I love to use my more expensive, decorative tiles in niches in the shower. It’s just enough to have a big impact without breaking the bank.
6. How do you work with your clients throughout the design process to ensure they enjoy themselves – and the end result?
I think it’s very important that my clients don’t feel stressed about the process. I help to alleviate this by communicating with them frequently about the schedule. I also try not to overwhelm them with decisions. I bring them choices throughout the process that are the most pertinent, so that all of the decisions don’t have to be made at once. Giving them this time to think about their options helps alleviate some pressure.
7. Do you have any favorite remodel projects you’d be willing to share? What were your favorite aspects?
One of my favorite remodels is a 1920s Spanish revival style in Playa Del Ray, Calif. The homeowners inherited the property that one of their parents had owned and built. My clients had many antique, sentimental items that I was able to use to develop our design. We kept the charm of the century old home, like the staircase railing, front door, and exposed ceiling beams, but gave it the modern amenities that are expected nowadays.
To see more exceptional remodel projects, find inspiration on Jennifer Allison’s Instagram: