Creating a space that in turn creates a feeling is something interior designer Lisa Palmer enjoys the most. “One of the things I first ask a new client is ‘how do you want your home to feel?’ This question is important because this tells me so many things about their style. A lot of clients don’t really know their style, but they can relate to ‘feel.’ Do they want it light and airy, rich and cozy, bright, colorful, happy?”
Palmer asked those questions and more when working with Jody Bailey. “I started meeting with him, measuring the home and working on selections mid-2014. The final installation was in early fall that year. The process from the initial client interview to the final installation can either be really fast or if there are a lot of custom pieces, painting, wallpapering or renovations, it can take up to six months.”
Bailey purchased his Jackson home almost a year before contacting Palmer. “When I got to his home, there were completely empty rooms, and some had a few pieces in them. My job was to work in the entry, home office, living room, loggia, and dining room. These were the rooms that were the most important to him.” Unfortunately, Bailey really didn’t have any idea how he wanted his home to feel or look. “When you have spent years working with clients,” says Palmer, “you develop an intuitiveness about how to achieve the end result, which, of course, is a happy client. And I got a real sense of this when I saw the furniture pieces he already had.”
Palmer asks what special pieces a client may own that she needs to work with. And of course, she discusses budget and final expectations. “The first time I meet with a client is all about fact finding. I have a series of interview questions I ask, such as how will they use the spaces? Who will be using the spaces? Do they have children, and if so what are their ages? Any pets in the home? Do they entertain? If so, how? In other words, do they have small intimate dinner parties or large fund raising parties? Is there a deadline? That last one is important, because I need to know if I need to pull from my stock or if I have time for custom pieces.”
Bailey answered all of Palmer’s questions, telling her how he lived and that he has the cutest pup that he adores. “Right off the bat,” Palmer states, “I knew I wanted fabrics and pieces that were rich and cozy and easily cleanable. He didn’t have a particular style choice, but I knew he had some antiques to work with, so I added a modern and sexy mood with the color palette.” The rooms feature dark chocolate colored furniture with accents of bright gold. “I didn’t really have a plan right away to add the bright gold, but it plays so well off of chocolate and sort of is a personal favorite of mine. It just felt timeless.” Because Bailey loves to have small dinner parties, Palmer had a dining table base custom made. “I wanted the walls to be deep in color and the charcoal grass cloth gives it that, along with a yummy texture. And the Ochre light fixture above the table gives off the most wonderful glow.”
Once her questions to the client are answered, Palmer goes to work to create her design. “Sometimes I will peruse my Pinterest boards or my Instagram collection for inspiration. Or I may thumb through my extensive (I’m totally embarrassed by this!) collection of magazines. My design library is enormous but definitely curated. Remember, I’ve been working in the design field for many years and have been adding to my resource library since day one.”
A 1983 graduate of Southern Miss with a degree in interior design, Palmer says she began college as an art and theatre major. “About halfway through my college education, I realized that neither one of those fields was going to put much food on my table, so I used my art training in a more practical way and decided on the field of interior design. I’ve never looked back. I just love it. It is art in dimension to me. Aside from working with people who truly need me, I feel it is a valuable field in which we alter how people feel in their homes. We can change lives this way. Living in a poorly lit, cluttered environment isn’t good for anybody. As designers, we can mentally help our clients live a more peaceful life to the extent of how they feel in their homes. I love working with people, too. My day is different every day!” Palmer’s design library is located inside her retail store, SummerHouse in the Township at Colony Park, which features furniture and accessories. A second SummerHouse location opened on the Square in Oxford in summer 2016.
In the Bailey home, the living room is really large, and Palmer knew she wanted a custom designed ottoman to help fill the space and also feel comfortable. All the accessories in the space were purchased new, including boxes and natural elements like rocks and a gold-gilded twig, all artfully placed upon a mixed metals tray on the oatmeal-colored ottoman accented with broad gold stripes.
The living room features traditionally-styled mirror-fronted armoires, one on either side of the fire place, mixed with more contemporary pieces. “As a designer in the South,” Palmer says, “I love the mix of old pieces that tell a story and newer pieces right alongside. We all have rugs, chests, and consoles that have been passed down for generations. This mix is what makes spaces feel less ‘decorated.’ This is the way my store feels as well. You will never see a ‘showcase’ of the same company in my store. I want it to feel like a home, and I believe we achieve this.”
Palmer absolutely achieved a warm, cozy feel for Bailey’s home, with the perfect ratio of furniture and accessories. “The most important thing about accessories in my book,” asserts Palmer, “is edit, edit, edit! When you think you are finished accessorizing a space, take more away!”