January 26, 2019

With over forty years experience, two design bible-caliber books, and half a dozen AD100 titles under her wing, Dallas-based designer Jan Showers’s resume could put even an icon like Elsie de Wolfe to shame. Since starting her business Jan Showers Interior Design in 1977, Showers has redefined what it means to be an A-list designer. Global projects, commercial partnerships, and vintage scouting trips abroad are all part of the equation for Showers, who recently joined on as one of DECASO’s newest antique dealers. Looking at Showers’s rooms, you’d never know she was juggling multiple balls; however. Each one appears as effortless as it appears meticulously detailed. Color, shape, and pattern merge to create a visual symphony. To celebrate her DECASO debut, we asked Showers to walk us through how she builds the perfect room. Ahead, Showers shows us how to design a room that is both luxurious and comfortable.

1. Start with a Rug

“I always start with the rug and use colors that are in the rug,” says Showers. “If the rug is a neutral, then the colors in the lamps, pillows and upholstery will create the color scheme. I interview my clients as to their favorite colors and what is complimentary to them—they need to feel good in their rooms. This is one of the keys to good design in my opinion.”

2. Don’t Limit Your Palette

“I really like a mix of colors and rarely will keep repeating a color unless the room is very large and vast and can include other colors,” Showers advises. “I think the look of drapery, lamps, pillow all in one color in a relatively small area looks dated.”

3. Seek Out Comfortable Furniture

“It is just as easy to create a chair that is comfortable as one that is not,” says Showers. “I have been manufacturing bench made furniture for over 20 years and have learned about seat heights, depths, the pitch of a chair or sofa, the height of a table or credenza—all with a lot of trial and error. We create prototypes and very often get them right the first time at this point, but not always! At the end of the day, the piece has to be comfortable.”

4. Scale Your Furniture

“I am all about scale. If a room has very high ceilings, I will make the backs of sofas taller, but always in proportion. Scale can make or break a room,” Showers advises. “Conversely, I’ve seen rooms that are a complete disaster when the furniture looks doll house-size in a large room with high ceilings.”

5. Splurge on Durable (and Beautiful) Fabrics

According to Showers: “Fabrics can be beautiful while still being durable. For instance, mohair is one of the most luxurious and yet durable fabrics there is and so comfortable. There are many others, too numerous to name.”

6. Limit Upholstery

“I am a chair person! I adore them and am very particular about the ones I buy in Paris or any of my buying trips. However, I don’t like a room with all fully upholstered furniture—boring! I like chairs with character.”

7. Trust Your Gut with Art

“I like any art that is good,” says Showers. “We have contemporary art in our Dallas townhouse and 18th and 19th Century works in our country house. Art is so subjective that I want my clients to choose their art.”

8. Make Eye-Level Lighting a Priority

“Lighting is often an overlooked element—it’s amazing how much difference lighting makes in a room,” says Showers. “Eye-level lighting in particular, is the key to everyone in the room looking great! Overhead lighting should only be used to showcase objects or for fill. We all look better with light on our faces—that is why candlelight is so flattering.  Overhead lighting should only be used for showcasing art and objects—also to fill in dark areas.”

9. Avoid Trends

Lastly, Showers says, “I advise my clients to think about whether they want their room to look dated in 5-10 years. I point out such things as the oversized furniture of the early ‘90’s and plumbing fixtures that already look dated like standing bowls for lavatories in bathrooms.”

Jan Showers’s Decorating Favorites:

Favorite paint color?
“I love Donald Kaufman colors—they are exceptional. I do love #25—a pretty green that every color looks great with. Also, I love Benjamin Moore’s Wythe Blue.”

Favorite place to splurge and favorite place to dial it back?
“I love to splurge on art and lamps—they are the icing on the cake! I dial it back on drapery fabric since there are so many wonderful fabrics out there that are reasonable.”

Favorite color combo?
“A relatively pale acid green with a pretty blue always is a winner.”

Favorite pattern and how you love to use it?
“I love so many wonderful classic prints—it’s difficult to name one. I’m very excited about my new collection for Kravet Couture, inspired by many of my favorite prints. It will be out in 2020. The new furniture collection will be introduced at High Point this April.”

Favorite design risk you’ve ever taken?
“Preferably painting my townhouse powder room black (lacquered).  Always best to take risks on your personal projects.”