We first met Jaime Zehner of JZ Interior Designs at the HAVEN workshop and immediately fell in love with her laid back, Cali vibe. A California native with a knack for creating uniquely layered, textural, and inviting spaces, we knew we had to get a list of her favorite spots for inspiration and home good finds around California. Read on to discover some real gems that we’re bookmarking to visit as soon as it’s safe for us to travel to California again. But the one inspiring, must-stop she left out is this Corona Del Mar home she designed that we’re touring today! Get ready, because you’re going to want to linger over every single detail.
JZ Interiors specializes in creating unique, beautiful, and happy homes – what does a happy home mean to you?
A happy home means someplace that makes you smile when you walk in. It’s something that you are proud of. It’s thoughtfully designed so that it feels like a home and not just like a beautiful space. A happy home means you enjoy spending time there and enjoy spending time with the ones you love most in that space.
You describe your style as California casual and laid back. What are some of the quintessential design elements in creating that vibe?
I like to start with natural light and a neutral palette. Trends come and go, but when your main, fundamental pieces are classic, it is easier to change out smaller accessories over time and in different seasons. There are so many places to find beautiful pillows now.
I love adding in texture wherever possible. I’m a sucker for a luxurious cashmere throw, linen bedding, and a vintage rug that can stand the test of time.
And baskets everywhere! I’m a barefoot kind of gal, so I have a basket by the front door for shoes, a basket for my dog’s items, a basket for old books, a basket for throws, etc. They bring in texture and help you stay organized while showing off those livable parts of your home in a more elevated way.
I also encourage my clients to add real greenery to their homes. I know this is intimidating, and I myself don’t have a green thumb, but it really is such a great way to add color, life, and height.
Have you seen a surge of e-design clients during the pandemic? How has your role changed or your services pivoted during this time, or are things business as usual?
As a small business owner in my second year of business, my heart sank when the pandemic hit. But what happened next was beautiful; this industry pivoted and lifted each other up to support one another. I wasn’t going to let a pandemic take away my dream without a fight.
In the first few months, there was a lot of uncertainty, and it was scary. But as cheesy as this sounds, I was able to slow down and make adjustments in my business that I had been putting off. Once I was wrapping up with that, I started offering e-design to those who were asking. We have all spent more time in our homes, and I think more than anything, people wanted to make them look and feel better. It was definitely an adjustment, as the project management side (which I love) was a lot smaller. But luckily, construction has kept a good pace, and work has started steadily picking back up!
What are some of your favorite spots to stop for inspiration or a little home good shopping on a Southern California road trip?
Oh man, I love this question, because I love a California road trip!
My favorite trip would be to Big Sur and Carmel. The views alone are enough inspiration. But I love the way the homes are built to blend into the mountains and stand the changes in weather.
Here are a few of my favorite stops:
San Diego County:
· Any old surf shop
· Drive up the PCH through La Jolla
· Architectural Salvage for great vintage furniture, hardware & lighting!
· SoLo furniture warehouse in Solana Beach
· Juxtaposition is hands down my favorite shop of all time.
· Shoppe Amber Interiors is a must for the best inspiration. I used to drive all the way to Calabasas to visit, but now with the Newport Beach location, it’s only a 10 minute drive!
Los Angeles County
· Big Daddy’s has the best pieces and inspiration in town.
· Surfing Cowboys sources incredible vintage and captures the heart of surf culture.
· Lawson Fenning is filled with stunning pieces.
· Nicky Kehoe has my favorite lighting, and my favorite everything, really.
· Pasadena Antique Mall always has something fun to find!
· Rose Bowl Flea Market
Santa Barbara County
· The Well Summerland is part of Big Daddy’s, but has some more outdoor finds.
· Garde – I want to live in this building with these furnishings!
I stumbled onto a Central Coast Antique’s Guide and was able to visit most of these shops over the summer. It was a blast and a great little trip! Highly recommend Googling and following along, if you get the chance and love antiquing.
Can you share a little bit about your journey to becoming an interior designer? What was the moment when you decided to make this your career?
I think I always knew I wanted to design. Like many others, I was rearranging my room…and my parent’s home…from a young age, and I loved all things creative.
In 2014, I started working for a new home builder. I loved my job and the experience, but I craved more detail – new projects that I could manage from start to finish. I was finishing my credentials at IDI on the side when I took on a home in Corona Del Mar as a side project. As soon as I started, I knew that interior design was for me.
I worked on a few other jobs and for another designer for a while before taking that (terrifying) step out on my own. It’s been the best thing that has happened to me, and I love every new challenge and experience.
If you described your style as a cocktail, what would it be?
A dry gin martini, up with a twist. Classic, with a bit of a punch, and a hint of color.
Where do you turn to these days for design inspiration?
Instagram and Pinterest are always my first stops, but I love keeping old magazines and bookmarking my favorite pages. I still come back to them years later for inspiration! I’ve also been obsessed with design coffee table books since I was in high school, so I have quite the collection. I love seeing new inspiration, revisiting old trends, and finding ways to make them current.
Your paint choices in this home are phenomenal! From the blue on the bedroom wall to the dark hued accents in the kitchen, we’re swooning over your use of color. What are some of your go-to paint colors?
Thank you! I love the classics but always want to add something fun. Here are some of my favorites:
Farrow & Ball
· Purebeck Stone
· Whimborne White
· Old White
· Stony Ground
· Cinder Rose
· Cardroom Green
· Oval Room Blue
· Sudbury Yellow
· Alabaster White
· Simply White
· Wrought Iron
· Kendal Charcoal
· Ballet White
· White Dove
We were delighted to spend time with you at the HAVEN workshop! What takeaways did you have from your workshop experience?
Me, too! That was hands down the best investment I made into my business! I was able to restructure my business in the best way – and in ways I hadn’t even yet thought of.
I was able to meet a group of like-minded people, in the same place as me, who have been the biggest support system. We still rely on each other for help and questions, and I am so thankful to not feel alone in this.
The speakers at the Haven Workshop also gave so much incredible insight that I value and have been monumental in helping me grow my business.
You have the ability to seamlessly mix old with new. Do you have any tips for readers trying to achieve this balance in their own homes?
Thank you! I believe anyone can buy all new furnishings to make a pretty space, but I always ask of my clients, “What is the part of this room that makes it unique to you?” Sometimes it’s harder to bring in those items while creating a new and updated space; but those family photos, old paintings, or trinkets collected on travels are the things that make you…you!
I love searching flea markets for these things. One of my favorite things about finding tchotchkes at a flea market is what you can do with them. You may just see an old bottle, but I see multiple old bottles layered on a shelf, used as vases. It’s just a matter of using your creativity!
What does a well lived home mean to you?
A well lived home is the place that you come home to and are free to be yourself. It can be beautifully styled, but it also means that spills and stains and scratches are inevitable. A well lived home shows signs of life – kids’ artwork, probably some dirty dishes, and a pile of laundry. But a well lived home shows signs of a happy home, shared with the ones you love most.