Jil Sorensen is an amazing, pretty much self taught, interior designer who’s style is whimsical, full of color and sophisticated all at the same time. She also actually sketches her rooms as opposed to using AutoCad which I just love. It adds the heart and soul to a design on paper. Not only does she run a very successful interior design business in Virginia called Marmalade Interiors, (her services are also available via eDesign) but she also has a home goods store with items in all price ranges to make you swoon – and of course add some swank to your own home. As if all that weren’t enough, she’s creating a private label line under the name Jill Sorensen Home which includes a line of carpets (see examples below), cotton dhurries, bedding, and headboards.
Here’s our interview:
We’re both expats. I’m an expat American living in Munich and you’re from Sweden and live in the States – though I’m not sure where… Are you on the East Coast? Anyway, I know your journey to the US included working as an au pair and fashion model but how did you get interested in interior design?
Hi Annie, I lived a number of years in New York, now I live in Virginia just outside of DC.
Really by accident. When I got married and moved down to Virginia we set out to renovate an old home. I had never focused on interiors before so we hired an interior designer in New York, but I soon found myself doing all the work, then being offered a job! I did study art in Sweden and I painted a lot, I just had never applied a creative vision to a room before. Years of traveling around the world as a model being exposed to endless beautiful locations and cultures had peaked my interest in old buildings and beautiful interiors.
When you hired a design firm to help you with your home, they asked you to come work for them (I hope you got a deal on the price). How did that come about? Was most of your training hands on experience or did you get a formal design education? If so, where and if not, what do you think were the advantages and disadvantages?
This is a bit of a crazy story. I had talked my husband in to hiring a specific interior designer, not the one he wanted to hire. A couple of months in to the job, she offered me a job with her company, which I couldn’t do at the time since I had a full time job. And luckily I didn’t take it ! We discovered six months in to it she started to double charge for items, due to personal issues she was having. Needless to say I felt horribly guilty to my new husband, and decided I had to complete this project on my own. I had no formal schooling in interior design, I simply bought a book on how to start an interior design business, studied it obsessively and started my own company. So you can really say it was started by accident!!
I asked another experienced designer to consult me, but she instead ended up becoming my business partner. She taught me all the practical things in the business, that you can really only learn on the job.
I think a formal design education is great. But there’s also so many practical things you need to know, to be able to create great and functional designs. You absolutely need both.
You’re style is so great. Definitely your own but it also takes the best from two of my favorite designers, Jamie Drake and Kelly Wearstler. Who do you think influenced your design aesthetic most? Did you have a mentor?
Thank You!! History has always influenced me the most. Old European country homes, castles, old Hollywood movie sets, cool mid century homes. I think all designs are a reinterpretation of history. Tony Duquette, Dorothy Draper and Coco Chanel inspire me daily! So many great ones today…Kelly Wearstler, Miles Redd, Ruthie Summers and a bunch of others. Jonathan Adler’s designs are really fun as well.
What made you decide to open your own business? How has your design aesthetic changed since you went out on your own?
When I relaunched my business two years ago with LiveLikeYou after a hiatus, I was asked to design this big modern house. I reluctantly took it on since I mostly did old fashioned interiors. So glad I did because it completely changed my design aesthetic to become more colorful, eclectic and fearless. I think that taste always evolves and changes.
I see you do a lot of eDesign. That’s a very controversial subject for a lot of interior designers but personally, I think it’s great. It gives people who wouldn’t ordinarily be able to afford a designer a visual map and sometimes all people need is a starting point. How does your process work? What are the biggest challenges?
LiveLikeYou takes e-decor to a new level. We offer free designed rooms on line suited to personality types or movies. The customer can get that custom fit to their space. You can buy everything you see and it ships to you in a few weeks. You can mix and match a few items in the space that all work well in that design. It’s a great option if you can’t afford a designer.
If I came to you as a client how would you go about designing a home for me? In other words, what’s your design process from start to finish? Where do you draw your inspirations from and how do you convert your inspiration into a fully realized design?
I want people to live their dream. I meet with you and hear your ideas and wishes for your home. Then I create a plan that incorporates that. Some people just want you do do it. Others want to stay very involved. It’s up to the client. Most become good friends. I get a lot of design inspiration from the client. I think of how that person wants to live, what they dream of, how do they want to feel when they wake up in the morning, or how do they want to present themselves to the world. Everything inspires me – coming up with the design is the absolute easiest part of the job. The hard part is managing all the million little details, follow up on shipping etc.
What’s the best advice anyone every gave you that you’ve been able to apply to your design business? What advice would you give someone interested in becoming an interior designer?
Follow your heart. Do what you love. Get experience. Learn as much as you can and study design. Work for someone first and learn before starting your own business.
Who do you think is the most excited designer right now?
So many really. I think Ryan Korban, Miles Redd, Kelly Wearstler are pretty exciting.
What are three things you think anyone can do to inexpensively add great style?
1) Clear clutter 2)Paint your walls a great color 3) Mix high and low and vintage. Mix good pieces with inexpensive ones, and redo something old you have from before.
Do you have any pet peeves when it comes to interior design?
Cluttered spaces ruin any design. And also spaces that are completely uninspired, stiff, cold.
Lastly, if you were a room which room would you be and what would you look like?
The Guest bedroom – it’s always the room you can have the most fun with.
Thank you, Jil!
- Ideas & Inspiration
- Life on the Lake
- On the Table
- Renovations from the Front
- Tips & Resources
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