Jackie Lopey, Certified Interior Designer & CEO
My first house was an adorable little bungalow. Adorable on the outside, that is. I hated the way the inside looked. Frankly, it was embarrassing. The kitchen cabinets were old and tired, the floors were dated, ugly vinyl or blue shag carpet, and let’s not even talk about the lighting or, rather, lack of lighting. Still, (famous last words) it had potential. My efforts to bring out that potential were hit and miss. The turquoise walls and white kitchen cabinets were a hit. Any change to the floors was a good one. But, I wished I had picked a lighter tile color. And, on it went. Often getting it right. Sometimes getting it wrong. And always wishing for a “do over” at the end of a project so that I could use all that I had learned along the way to make even better choices.
Still trying to transform that eyesore of a house into a home I was comfortable in and proud of had ignited a creative fire in me that just wouldn’t go out. I had worked hard to earn a dream job as an advertising executive in San Francisco. I was engaged to an amazing man, and we were looking forward to starting a family. That created a problem. I just couldn’t envision myself working in San Francisco while my kids were all the way across the Bay Bridge in Pleasant Hill. With the commute, every day was an 11-hour day. Where would I find the time and energy to fit in a family? My mother had been an artist, and I recognized this painting-drawing-sewing-repurposing-rearranging thing that was happening to me too. I needed a creative, flexible, local job that would allow me to work and have a family at the same time. Late one night while surfing the net for interior design tips, I found something that shouted “what’s next in my life.” There on Google was a program that taught how to do same-day room makeovers.
A same-day makeover is where you take someone's existing furniture and accessories and rearrange them to create a whole new look. I thought to myself, “If other people can make a living at this, surely I can too!” So I took the course and started working nights and weekends while keeping my day job. The work was rewarding right from the start.
I learned, through my certification, how to analyze a room, identify its faults, and more importantly, correct them. The combination of my innate creativity and new found knowledge made for dramatic results. At the beginning of our day together, clients would say things like, “I don’t really have anything nice,” or “I don’t know what you’ll be able to do with all of my random stuff.” By the end of the day, they were saying, “I never thought my place and my old things could look this good!” A month before my wedding, I took the plunge, leaving behind a great job and starting my own business, Spin Decorating.
Clients were so happy that they wanted me to do more! Would I help them with their kitchen remodel? They were thinking about enlarging their bathroom, could I design it? They wanted a complete living room makeover, top-to-bottom, new everything, would I pull it all together? Of course, I wanted to help. What new business owner doesn’t want more work from clients who are already thrilled? Coordinating larger projects would be no problem thanks to my years of management experience, but I knew I needed more design training. So, I got a degree in Interior Design. With a solid grounding in the principles of interior design and architectural styles, I slowly started taking on bigger and more complex jobs. Spin Decorating became Venue. At about the same time, I became a mom.
Bigger, more complex projects called for more and more creativity. I was designing one-of-a-kind draperies made from sumptuous fabric, custom kitchen cabinets with hand-applied stains and using paint and wallpaper to create drama and “control the eye.” Think of a great painting. The painter uses color and form to make you look exactly where she wants you to first, and then she pulls your focus around the canvas very purposefully. That’s what controlling the eye means. You don’t realize that it’s happening but it is - whether you’re looking at a canvas or a well-designed room. Through my experience and education, I qualified to sit for the Certified Interior Designer exam. The exam tests Design Theory, the California Building Code and Ethics. I passed on the first try and maintain my certification with continuing education. Today, my typical project involves two or three rooms and often the whole house. I take out walls, move doors and windows and rip out any fixtures that stand in the way of making a room that is just right for my client. Then, I layer in custom furniture, perfect fixtures and one-of-a-kind art and accessories that reflect who my client really is.
One of the things I’ve heard a lot from clients, contractors and other business partners is, “You're not like any other interior designer I’ve met.” At first I was a little taken taken aback. What did that mean? They were saying that they weren’t used to fabulous design packaged with professional project management. On my way up the corporate ladder, I managed small and large groups of people, launched new products and handled large budgets. I know how to get things done. And, I know that I can’t do it all. My first employee was a Project Coordinator. She has since been promoted to Interior Designer and I hired one more experienced designer. We’re supported by a Design Assistant, a Database Coordinator and a Bookkeeper. Good people require good tools. So, I’ve invested in the best interior design project management software, the latest drafting software and created a proprietary budgeting system. It sounds boring, but was so worth it! Our clients can sleep at night even when they’re going through a major remodel because we've got them covered. We plan for and track every detail, create construction drawings that sail through the local building department and make sure every client's budget is spent on the items that are important to her.
After all these years, I still love helping clients to create their dream homes. Are you searching for a way to transform your home? Maybe you’re afraid of making mistakes that will cost an arm and a leg or simply don’t have the time to research and coordinate a big project. You can go it alone -- spending your weekends running from showroom to showroom and your nights scouring Houzz for ideas-- all the while realizing you still don’t have a complete plan, you haven’t even begun your remodel and you don’t really know how all of the choices you’re making are going to turn out in the end. Or, you can let me help. I have the knowledge, experience, tools and team to make your dream a reality.