When JDP Interiors founder and interior designer, Joyce Downing Pickens, was approached by her clients to modernize their newly purchased dated home, she immediately hit the ground running. Over the course of the project, the designer worked side-by-side with the homeowners to craft a collection of rooms that each felt fresh, and hinted at the coastal vibes the couple loved.
The results? A home that all but oozes easy-going high style. Grab a steamy cup of joe, and slowly scroll on so that you can devour each and every detail in this total home makeover—cringe-worthy “before” photos, and all!
How did you initially get into interior design?
I grew up in Charleston, South Carolina—a city rich in architecture and design. Therefore, I’ve been immersed in design culture from a young age. My mom worked for a designer in the city and I very often tagged along. Ever since then, it’s been something I’ve dabbled in. I’ve worked for different designers since high school and attended the New York School of Interior Design in Manhattan and the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles. I feel like my skills were really honed while working for Nathan Turner here in LA. Just the day-to-day experience of being submerged in his world and taking in his knowledge of antiques and the use of textiles helped me achieve a more sophisticated design palette.
This was a small space with a long living room, so the goal was to come up with a viable space plan…My clients are a newly married couple, so they wanted a young, fresh design scheme with a touch of the beach without feeling outright “beachy,” so we chose a muted color palette full of texture.
Take us through a typical day in your life as a working creative!
Oh, boy! It’s always different! Sometimes I wake up not knowing what the day will hold. But, I have found that the key to staying organized and efficient is not scheduling any meetings or errands before 11 a.m. That allows me to sit down with a cup of coffee, answer emails, make calls, plan out a solid to-do list and really organize my brain before heading out the door. From there, it’s constant visits to my local vendors, woodworkers, upholsterers and client homes. Oh, yes, and time at the office spent invoicing—my least favorite task!
When designing for clients, how do you seamlessly combine their individual style with your own ideas?
I always give my clients “homework” before sitting down with the design scheme. I tell them this is the single most important part of the process because it can be such a huge time-saver. I create a Pinterest board and tell them to get busy pinning! This allows me to get an overall sense of what they like. Very often, clients won’t know how to voice their preferences, so this allows me to decipher it for them. I had one client who began pinning velvet sofas and art deco-inspired living rooms, but I had no idea that would be something they liked. I took that direction and ran with it and they ended up beyond happy that I pushed them to choose a scheme that was a bit out of their comfort zone.
Tell us about the Newport Project. How did you get involved, and what were the main goals?
This was a small space with a long living room, so the goal was to come up with a viable space plan. The house was a bit dated and the kitchen needed to be gutted, so the updated kitchen, floors, fireplace and bathrooms made a world of difference. My clients are a newly married couple so they wanted a young, fresh design scheme with a touch of the beach without feeling outright “beachy,” so we chose a muted color palette full of texture.
Can you divulge a few budget-friendly tricks you used while designing this house?
Yes! The best trick we discovered was purchasing a Beni Ourain rug off of eBay! My client really wanted this look, but didn’t have the budget for a rug from say, H.D. Buttercup or Lawrence of La Brea. We discovered eBay has a great selection of Beni Ourain rugs for half the price! When it arrived, we were shocked by how beautiful it was and it truly makes the room feel cozy.
How would you describe your style as a designer?
I feel like my style as a designer could be described as hip, fresh and bohemian. I love a punch of contrast and, because of that, the color black is my best friend. Pattern and texture are also my best friends. I find designing with texture rather than color can create a more sophisticated space.
What are some clever tips for making a small space appear larger?
A large rug and smaller chairs. The oversized rug plays a trick on the eye and creates an extended designated furniture plan. The smaller chairs versus big bulky arm chairs open up the room and allows for additional seating, but they don’t crowd the walk-through space.
I feel like my style as a designer could be described as hip, fresh and bohemian. I love a punch of contrast and, because of that, the color black is my best friend.
How do you manage to create functional storage without compromising on the decorative aesthetic?
IKEA! My client had seen the Akurum DIY console on Pinterest and we decided to create a floating console for additional storage that would hide items such as the TV cable box. It isn’t too bulky and floats so you don’t lose any floor space. We added leather loop pulls to give it a little interest, and voilà—stylish, affordable storage!
What inspired you to use hats as decoration in the bedroom?
A surplus of hats! There’s never a good place to put them because they so easily get crushed. So, why not use them as wall decoration?
Tell us: where did you get the fabulous wallpaper used in the bathroom?
What aspects of the original house did you decide to keep throughout the design process?
The front door! There’s an amazing front door with brass details that was a great original piece of the house.
What do you wish you had known when you were just starting out as a designer?
Sources! It shocks me how little you learn in school about where to shop, what vendors to use and even how to find a good reliable handyman! It’s taken me a while to build my team of people, but I’m beyond happy now. I’ve learned so much in that regard since first starting out. I even think of going back and teaching a class about sourcing. I feel for people right out the gate! LA has so much to offer, but can also be super overwhelming.
What are five things you think that every bedroom should have?
- A beautiful vintage lumbar pillow.
- A throw at the end of the bed.
- Sconces versus table lamps so as not to crowd bedside table space.
- A bench or set of stools at the end of the bed.
- A great piece of art.
In your opinion, what is the best part about being an interior designer?
Seeing your visions and ideas come to life! I am such a creative and visual person, so install day is always my favorite day. It’s that “aha!” moment for myself and my clients.