Combine form and function with comfort, personality
Naples has been home to Heather Jennings since she moved here as a child with her family 40 years ago from Pennsylvania. She received a bachelor’s degree in interior design from Florida State University and has worked in interior design for over 25 years, the past 17 years as the owner of HJ Designs. She describes her approach to interior design as one that integrates form and function / roominess with comfort, aesthetics and personality.
When / how did you know you wanted to become an interior designer?
I think I always knew I wanted to be an interior designer. When I was young, my mom would come home from work to find that my brother and I had moved the furniture – again! I can’t imagine doing anything else. This is my passion.
Tell us about one of your toughest projects.
I had a very specific timeline for completion, but clients kept changing their minds about what they wanted. I couldn’t keep track of delivery times for most of the products they wanted. I had to be very creative to keep all the balls in the air. Somehow I managed to do it and everyone was happy.
And tell us something about a favorite project.
My most favorite project was working with a previous client on their new home from start to finish, including selecting building materials. It was fun to design every space, down to the smallest details of the furniture and accessories. They were really great to work with them. They were open to the ideas I had in mind and we combined them with their thoughts and plans. The process went very well throughout the process.
What’s your favorite room in your own home?
The sun porch. An outdoor sectional makes it nice and cozy, but it’s also light and airy. It is surrounded by windows to let in the breeze and it overlooks my back garden which is very relaxing to watch.
What are three things every large room / family room should have?
Definitely a deep sofa or sectional that you and your family can snuggle up in comfortably. A great reading chair and ottoman to put your feet up on and, of course, a side table for your cup of coffee or a glass of wine.
Explain the process to us when you start a new project with a client.
The most important thing in the beginning is to spend time getting to know them. We sit down and I ask a series of questions to find out their wants, needs, likes, dislikes, comfort level, color scheme, and the overall feeling they wish their home had.
What often surprises your customers who are new to Southwest Florida?
Many of them just can’t get enough of the laid back lifestyle. They love the open floor plans that are completely different from the homes they have left in other parts of the country. And they will be delighted to never see the snow again.
Describe your perfect client.
Someone who is easy to work with and who is open to letting me be as creative as I like.
Do you have a design pet peeve?
I really don’t like small, skimpy pieces of furniture that aren’t on the right scale for the space they inhabit. And works of art that hang too high or that are out of proportion to the wall.
Which do you prefer: remodeling or starting from scratch?
I love to start a home from scratch. I love watching the build process. Having said that, I mainly do remodeling as people stay in their homes for many years. We renovate the spaces and refresh them to make them more current over time.
Any trends that you particularly like today? And those that you will be or were delighted to see go?
I love today’s coastal and spa colors for the soothing and comfortable feeling they bring to a space. Shades of oatmeal, creams and soft blues along with the casualness of the wood floors and driftwood-colored furniture make a space very livable. I was delighted to see the Tuscan gaze disappear. It was beautiful in its day, but it’s a very heavy look in both colors and textures.
Words of wisdom for a young person who thinks he wants to become an interior designer?
Customer service is essential. Going beyond your customers’ expectations is important. They need to know that you care.
What do you think you would do if you weren’t running HJ Designs?
Maybe I would be a full time artist or gardener. I love to create! ¦