Balancing 'Wow Factor' With Quiet Serenity

Jay Jeffers Discusses the Art of Mixing Both


Read What Jay Jeffers Has to Say:


From his San Francisco design studio, interior designer Jay Jeffers shares how he balances the wow factor of his designs with a dose of serenity. “When I'm designing for clients, I love having that moment of surprise and delight, that thing that as you're walking by a room or walking into a room that makes you smile. And it’s that special aspect that your guests, when they see it for the first time, think ‘wow.’ So, that's where I get the wow factor reference.”

“Often one thinks of home as a cocoon, one’s nest, the place where you arrive after a long, busy day, perhaps thinking about a cocktail, maybe looking forward to stretching out on a comfortable sofa and watching some TV–bad or otherwise. And when thinking about home in that way, there is a desire to balance the wow and the serene. I find the easiest way to begin planning out that balance is to think about the serenity part first. How do you make a home convey serenity, and then add in the wow factor? For me, when I begin establishing a language throughout a house, it can be through color.”

“I might paint the walls a similar tone, and then use that color paint throughout the house. If I’m doing flooring that's in a similar tone, or where there are hardwood floors in the home, and it goes throughout the house, then you change over to tile and stone for the bathrooms, thus creating a language throughout the interior. It also applies to color palettes as well. When I create a palette for a house, while each room may have different colors, I'll establish a neutral tone whether it’s a gray or a warm taupe or a white. That, then, is the underlying color theme that runs through the entire house, and it establishes a serene palette. Another way that this can be achieved is by working with individual rooms and a monochromatic palette. For example, if one wants blue tones in a living room, then selecting different shades of blues begins to create that air of quietness.”


Creating a Wow Factor Based on your Personal Style


Jeffers then discusses factoring in the “wow.” Often people think that wow needs to be bright, needs to be in your face. It doesn't have to be that at all. “I did a residential project in San Francisco where all the walls were white. We established the language in the house. The living room had a blue tone, but we found a pair of beautiful saddle leather vintage chairs. And they became the wow factor for this room.”

“Another project we designed involved big, open spaces. Not really a stop and start place for the walls in terms of painting, so we established a neutral paint tone running throughout the entire house. In the living room, there is a coffee table by Stefan Bishop, just carved wood in a beautiful organic shape. It looks like a sculpture. And that table is the wow factor and sets the tone. The dining room, while a part of the living room, it's a very large area, so I knew we could use two wow factors. With the dining room and its single wall, we did a plaster finish running on a diagonal. It's beautiful. It gives you a moment of excitement when you see it. I like to think that for the clients living there it puts a smile on their face every time they walk by it.”

According to Jeffers, wow factors can be furniture, accessories, and even architectural materials. “For a residence in Tahoe, the dining room can be seen from almost everywhere in the house, and has a beautiful black wooden ceiling. We kept the serenity of the space in the furniture itself. And then there is a single stone wall and we took the stone that's on the building outside and brought it inside onto that single wall, and that really created the wow factor that you can see not only from the dining room but from the other living areas as well.”

“For another dining room, we made the chandelier the showstopper. The serene quality of the table, the table has a glass top on it. The walls are a beautiful shade of gray. The chandelier is a beautiful wavy black piece that has beautiful gold leaf detail on the inside. That really is a sculptural piece in the room, and that's our wow factor.”


Bringing a Wow Factor to Bedrooms and Bathrooms


Jay next addresses bedrooms. “Obviously, this is a place for serenity. You want to ensure a good night's sleep, but the wow factor should also be at play in this room as well. One example I can share is from another project where we painted everything a dark color. And often times if you think dark color, serenity doesn’t leap to mind. For creating that serenity we painted the walls, the ceiling, the trim, the molding--everything is painted the same color: a dark gray. Instantly, our wow factor was the color and so was the serenity. So, we created this beautiful, soft, quiet room that when you walk in, you really just want to crawl in bed and take a nap. But all that was created with the paint color.”

“For another client, we selected colors that are very soft. It's a quiet room, lots of natural sunlight. We didn't want to take away from that. But, as this client is very playful, played out with things like lamps with little horns on them, and a chain attached to it. It's a Yeti lamp, and we attached it to the wall, so it’s fun, playful elements like these lamps that are about to run away. We also added these gorgeous rock crystal drawer pulls, and rather than doing them just on the nightstands, we did them in a group. This is something you can do with any piece of furniture. Go and find some beautiful pieces and address them in a colorful and interesting way. These small details create that moment of ‘wow’.“

“Take one of our projects in Dallas where the master bedroom had beautiful structure, with a gorgeous peaked roof ceiling. It is stunning. Everything is in beautiful blue-gray tones. The rug is very comfortable. The ceiling we did in a natural wood tone, and that really is a change in material from the walls and the floor. Really made the ceiling the ‘wow’ factor, while still imparting a serene feeling.”

Bathrooms, obviously, are great places for balancing a wow factor with quiet serenity. You want to be extra careful since you are using materials that are much harder to change over time. So, my preference is to create a monochromatic feel. We might use several different tiles in the same color but different patterns. For a master bathroom, we changed it up. The same tile, but changed the size of the tile going from the tub area to the shower area, and then used the same tones of tile but did them in a hexagonal shape instead of a rectangular shape on the bathroom floor. That really delivered a wow factor moment, but with the serenity running through the bathroom.”

“This is Jay Jeffers signing off. Thanks for joining me, talking about wow factor and balancing that with serenity. Remember, start with the serenity, create a language throughout the house, and then decide where you're going to add your wow factors in with each room.”





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