Jessica is a full time twin mom. Previous incarnations as a furniture designer, an art gallery “Girl Friday”, a jewelry designer and travel agent. Her home is shared with husband Rhys Lam, twins Alice and Nora, Lupie the dog and Mr. B the cat (her animal spirit). Looking to get back in the workforce in about 6 months so if you want to contact this multi talented person email her at email@example.com
1. As a mother of two, How has your sense of interior design changed? How do you keep your home functional/organized for kids and Adults alike?
I don’t think what I decorate my house with has changed as much the placement. I still mix old treasures with new treasures to tell our story, but I’m more safety conscience that’s for sure. Nothing dangerous or breakable below 3 feet where a toddler, dog or cat could get a hold of it. We have also started keeping the Rolling Stone, LEO, and other magazines where toddler eyes can’t read them. I found the girls reading the back page of the LEO, and even though they can’t understand the adult ads…I’m not ready to answer some of the questions those pictures lead to! The globe on the side table in the parlor (that’s fancy for the front room with the fireplace) is meant to be looked at and played with. No one can resist a globe, and nothing starts a conversation faster than telling stories about adventures real or imaginary.
As for organizing a house for adults and children to enjoy, the key is balance. It’s easy to let toys and belongings quickly overcrowd a house, especially a small one like ours. I’m a big fan of Frank Lloyd Wright’s design principles, and they translate to the rest of modern life as if they were written yesterday instead of 80 years ago. A few examples, keep fewer possessions, respect your consumption of natural resources and maximize the storage you have before thinking of expanding. Truly, we humans need very little to survive, and FLW even thought it was wasteful to have more than one bathroom per home. He was green, before green was green. It seems like a no brainer but, if you have less to make a mess with, it’s easier to clean up. If you have fewer decorative items on your shelves they become more precious.
2.How do you incorporate vintage pieces with more modern items?
I started out mixing vintage with modern, when I was broke and buying all my clothes and furniture from thrift stores, to pair with the occasional IKEA piece (even IKEA was too expensive sometimes!). It wasn’t until I picked up an issue of the now defunct, DOMINO magazine, that I realized what I was doing was actually stylish. It gave a voice to us quirky vintage lovers, and I feel it validated me to no longer look down on my house because it didn’t belong in Dwell. They put out a book a few years ago and anyone who wants to learn about the mixology of styles should pick it up.
3.You have a lot of items from your grandmother. How has her sense of style helped form your own?
My Nanny, as I called her, was an awesome lady. She owned a travel agency during a time when leisure airplane travel was just hitting the mainstream, and because of it she had been around the world at least twice before I was even born. Her house* was filled with treasures from decades worth of adventures, and was a mini museum of anthropology. She had a guestroom she called the African Room (she went to Africa more than 5 times in her life), which was filled with tribal artifacts, masks, and fabrics. I loved that her home was decorated with things that had a story and weren’t placed there in a rush or just to look pretty. There was history to all of it. I like the feeling of looking around my house and seeing my story, and now that I have a family, our story.
*I always loved her house inside and out. We live in a midcentury stone cottage; she lived in a midcentury stone ranch. I think she influences my ideal style more than I will ever be able to know.
4.How has your past in designing furniture influenced your decisions on what to bring into your own home?
This is a great question! When I started out designing furniture I had an idea of what it would be like, and when I quit I had a very different set of ideas about the whole process.
At first I was in awe by the prospect of my designs being manufactured in India and sold here in the US, I thought I had arrived! What I learned along the way is that a lot of unforeseen aspects in that process are not so green, mainly, the shipping pollution to our planet. I want to visit far away places for perspective and adventure, why does my sofa need to make that trip too! Ha ha!
My time in the industry has made me buy even more second hand furniture and handmade American goods. I used to do it because I was broke, now I do it because it is better for our planet and the quality tends to be better.
5.You’ve bought furniture from us that you have re-upholstered. What aspects of a piece lets you know it has good “bones” so to speak? How do you choose fabrics for re-upholstery projects?
I studied Industrial Design in college, which gave me a nerd’s appreciation for quality craftsmanship, and a lot of craftsmanship went into the vintage stuff. What boggles my mind is that with all the technology we have today, the quality of the old stuff is still so much better! With a little recovering or painting an old piece can last for another lifetime, and the satisfaction that comes from truly giving a piece your own touches…priceless.
When I look at an old piece that needs some love, I ask myself a couple of questions. Is the style of the piece unique and do I like the parts of it that are not easily changed, like the frame and shape. Are there any visible signs of water damage? If yes, this can be a deal breaker for me. Does any part of it wobble, click, or crunch? If yes, evaluate how much and use your best judgment. Otherwise, things that can be changed like upholstery, scratches in the wood, or even the stain of the wood I’m not worried about, if I love the look of the frame.
Picking fabric is the most fun! I like to keep some historic colors and textures in mind, but not letting that box me into a certain period. The sofa and chair I got at Greenhaus to recover were originally pee pee yellow velvet. The lines in the texture inspired me to pick a pale striped, super durable neutral beige. Covering it in a “boring” color makes it easier to change the look of the room with new pillows instead of recovering the sofa again.
6.You live in the Highlands, one of Louisville’s older neighborhoods. How has the layout of the home guided you in your usage of space and decor?
Our house has good bones. The potential was screaming in our faces when we saw it. We’ve done a lot of work to it, but made sure to keep the original architectural details. The triangular archways make me smile. The parlor room with the fireplace can exist the way it is because of the layout of the house. We have our TV room and playroom in the basement, which let’s this room be more flexible for ‘formal’ entertaining. This is my favorite space for visiting with friends, setting up Christmas trees, and having fireside picnics. Simple wholesome family fun!
7.If you had a spirit animal, what would it be? And, can you send us a quick drawing of it sitting on your couch? Ha.
Can it be my cat? I’m pretty sure that old buddy has a couple pieces of my spirit. But if I have to pick another animal, I guess I’d say the giraffe. A giraffe would look quite good sitting on my sofa!
Jessica called me and told me that her cat Mr. B is for real her animal spirit. Here he is...
All photography by Marife Bautista, firstname.lastname@example.org
-megan and daniel