Designer Spotlight: Jen Dallas Talks About Establishing Her Brand

Interior designer Jen Dallas, founder of Jen Dallas Interiors, in Santa Monica, Calif., knew as a child that she wanted to pursue a design career. She’d redecorate her bedroom, moving furniture around late at night. Her father taught art in college and Dallas shaped pottery and painted in the back of his classroom. She even made her own stationery, envelopes and giftwrap.

“It’s a lucky thing to know what you want to do from such a young age,” said Dallas, “and to grow up in a family where having that purpose meant something — to have parents who encourage creativity and encourage who you are.”

Now, Dallas has her own product line of textiles and ceramic tiles, Maple Jude & Co., in which she collaborates with her senior associate and creative partner, Perry Helderman. She also has a lighting collection, premiering soon, along with a line of rugs and furniture debuting most likely in 2023. “Interior design suits me,” she said.” I wear many hats all of which are passions of mine so work never feels like work.”

Jen Dallas designed kitchen

Photo credit: Manolo Langis

A Designer’s Travels: From Nashville to Chicago to California

After earning a B.F.A. in interior design from O’More College of Architecture and Design (part of Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.), Dallas designed for hotels in Chicago. She moved to Los Angeles to work with interior designer, Chris Barrett, and spent five years under her tutelage, learning about the local design scene and honing her residential design skills, before starting her own business in 2008. “Moving out West was a huge moment for me. I thought I wanted to build my career as being a commercial designer and then I fell in love with the residential architecture of Southern California,” she said. “I started designing homes and I have never looked back.” 

Her firm usually works with high-end residential and commercial projects, both locally and worldwide. Dallas and her team like to concentrate on each client’s specific tastes and needs. “It’s really about knowing my clients and how they live their lives,” she explains. “I like to ask them – how could your life work better? What do they value?”

Dallas also takes inspiration from the architecture of the home or the actual space she is working with. “The interior and the exterior are two parts of the whole,” she explained. “The interior architecture should highlight the best parts of the overall architecture of the building.” For example, the colors chosen for inside the home should also highlight the landscape or city view on the outside. 

Jennifer Dallas bathtub

Photo credit: Manolo Langis

An Interior Designer’s Process

Finding solutions and creating something out of nothing is one of the things Dallas enjoys about her work. She starts re-designing a space by doing in-depth interviews with her clients to learn what ultimately is important to them. She then reviews the architecture and how the interiors can compliment it. “I study the functions that are required for each space and how to best implement for each area,” she explained. “I always connect the exterior landscape of the home with the interior. They always need to work hand in hand with the home.”

Part of Dallas’ job is educating and helping her clients understand the possibilities of what they want. “From there, we can refine priorities and define the budget accordingly, enabling them to create a home that meets their needs and exceeds their expectations,” she said. 

Jen Dallas headshot

While Dallas likes to begin a project this way, each client is different and that informs her work as well. “We all have different processes and requirements on how we learn and respond to things,” she said. “How we make decisions and ultimately getting in touch with what we need and want. Those are all very important parts to understand when working with someone to build or remodel their home. Some clients like to be hands off and check in from time to time and some clients want be with me every step of the way.”

Project timelines vary, depending on the scope of the project. An average home remodel might take 6-12 months and a new constructed home could be 18 months to 24 months. 

Kitchen nook wine counter by Jennifer Dallas

Photo credit: Manolo Langis

A Textile and Ceramic Tile Line Begins

She started Maple Jude & Co to offer her own textile and ceramic tile lines in 2013, using hand drawings to create her products. “I was designing a pattern, and suddenly had the thought that the pattern would be perfect for ceramic tile,” she said. “And I turned to Perry and said, ‘We’re making tile.’ We reached out to a friend in the tile business and started figuring out a way to make it happen.”

Besides launching a lighting, rug and furniture collections, Dallas would like to open a brick-and-mortar location for Maple Jude & Co. “I have always wanted to have my own products out there,” she said. “It is fun to inspire others by creating beautiful fabric patterns and items for their homes. We can inspire more people as my lines are better known.”

Maple Jude Fabric by Jen Dallas

Maple Jude Fabric. Photo credit: Maple Jude & Co.

Today’s Challenges and Tomorrow’s Animal Sanctuary

As a manufacturer and a designer, Dallas values great customer service and open communication lines. A big challenge recently is shipping products so they arrive in a timely matter. Like many, Dallas struggles to keep her clients informed and updated on material shortages and delays. “I foresee that will soon that will be a problem of the past, but post-COVID, I have seen so many delays on getting building materials and increased pricing due to shortages,” she said. For example, with wood floors “we have to pay above premium pricing now to insure we will receive the wood quality we expect to receive.”

Jen Dallas bathroom mirror

Photo credit: Steven Rimlinger

Besides designing, Dallas enjoys spending time with animals. She has a Kings Charles Cavalier named, Rosemary, and dreams of getting more pets including an African Grey parrot. ”I love birds and I am obsessed with how smart they can be. She’d love to have a farm one day with goats, chickens and dogs. For now, though, Dallas finds pleasure in inspiring people to create personal and beautiful spaces that fulfill their needs and provide the security and comfort of home.

If you enjoyed this piece, check out some of Fabrics & Home's other Designer Spotlight profiles, including this one on Ashley Spencer.

Bathroom sink design by Jen Dallas

Photo credit: Manolo Langis

Featured photo of Jen Dallas by Lesley Bohm


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