Jill Sorensen has built her business, and her following, on providing design rescue to everyday people.
Designer Jill Sorensen inspires thousands via her design blog, offers her own online collection, and has even found a way to bring design advice directly to audiences through digital media.
Benjamin Moore sat down with her to learn more about how she's built her business and her online following, and how she provides instant design rescue to everyday people.
BM: From turquoise walls and boldly painted furniture to graphic wallpaper and animal prints, you embrace unusual color mixes and lots of design energy. What's your secret to keeping it fresh yet tasteful?
JS: When I design a space, I like to push myself outside my comfort zone, to the point where I feel a bit worried; that's when the fun begins. I like to take two colors that don't look good together and test myself if I can add a third color or pattern to solve it. That seems to be a common way I go about designing a room!
I always find the best ideas come about when you push yourself away from what feels safe. I don't like boring choices; life is so dull that way! But despite using lots of color and pattern, the space has to feel clean and have no clutter. And I always mix high and low and vintage pieces.
In Virginia, my favorite space is the living room. It's a big open room that connects all the rooms in the house, even upstairs. I painted it in Benjamin Moore's waterfall (2050-50) and added lots of strong colors in the mix. Each adjoining room has a strong bold color as well, but all the hues play together in weight and tone so, strangely, the comment people often make is that it's so surprisingly peaceful despite all the wild colors and patterns.
BM: In this issue of Nuance, we're exploring the "business" of design and especially all the online opportunities the digital world has opened for those like you in this industry. What was behind your decision to start your inspirational design blog and what has been the reaction to your timely posts?
JS: As a designer, you work one-on-one in very personal relationships, and only people who can afford a designer get help. I love helping and inspiring lots of people to live fully as who they are. With the blog, I can reach thousands of people every week and help change people's lives who normally would not work with a designer. Receiving reader e-mails on how someone dared to paint their kitchen turquoise because they read my blog, and then letting me know there's no stopping them now and it has changed their life and outlook ... that's my favorite part!
BM: What prompted the "Think Outside the Box!" portion of your blog?
JS: If you look around homes all over the country, you'll find that the majority of the population likes to play it safe. I want to push people to think outside the box. Ceilings don't have to be white, wood doesn't have to be brown, and please forget every design rule you ever heard. Express your individuality. Life is short!
BM: Your online store, LiveLikeYou, offers bedding, draperies, carpets, pillows, and headboards. How would you describe your collection?
JS: Creating a space you love can be difficult, so I want to help. I felt the need for simple, colorful graphic elements applied to items we need in our homes. All my designs are modern graphics with a retro 70's vibe and pops of color. All my designs can stand alone and completely "carry" a room, yet also blend easily with all your stuff. I want affordable and fuzzy luxury that you use every day and, of course, that makes you smile.
BM: On top of it all, through Marmalade Interiors, you offer some online decorating options. What prompted this offering, and what have been some of the results of this "remote" mode of design consultation?
JS: They are services designed to help people who can't hire an interior designer. The Design Kick is a two-hour Skype session (or in-house session, depending on the location). I meet and get to know the person, walk virtually through their space, and get room pictures and inspiration pictures sent to my office. After that, they can buy quick design plans and to-do lists with makeover suggestions that I create for each room. These sessions have been extremely effective and have inspired people to completely redo their homes.
I also have created an "instant rescue" service called The LiveLikeYou Kickstart, which also is designed to change someone's life. We've been able to completely change people's homes, emotions, and outlook in one day. One client who was wheelchair-bound bought herself flowers afterward to remind herself a new life has started. I think we all cried when we were done. Interiors really can alter direction for you.
BM: What's on the horizon for Jill Sorensen's online empire?
JS: I'm going to start video blogging and share what I believe is important advice for anyone designing his/her home. It won't be the kind of advice you would expect, but crucially important advice in my opinion. I can't wait to start. I'm also going to focus on my cotton dhurrie line, more bed designs, perhaps a furniture line, and ways to improve my LiveLikeYou blog and make it more interactive. And, of course, I'm writing a book!
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