House and Life

House and Life

Monday, January 21, 2008

David the Goliath

I'm so fortunate in the last few days to have struck up a conversation with design giant, David Jimenez. This Bronx born designer began his career with the Gap, worked his way to the top with his immense talent, then moved on to play a big part in the visual aesthetic of both Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware, shaping the landscape of American homes today. He currently serves as the Vice President of Visual Merchandising for Hallmark Inc. in Kansas City. He has shown up recently in design blogs for very good reason. Did you catch his amazing home in House Beautiful's August edition? It's one of my top favorites and it doesn't leave the nightstand. His designs have a wonderful sensibility to them, and I think his ability to layer with such warmth and effect matched by few today. I've got to dish David is as sweet as he is talented. I'm honored that David has agreed to a Question and Answer Session and here it is!

House and Life:

David, I'm a bit embarrassed to say I'm having a love affair with your Kansas City home featured in this August's House Beautiful. My husband is ok with it, he loves the house too. Can you tell me something you did small design-wise in the house that has been big in terms of impact?

David Jimenez:

I can't tell you how flattered I am that you like my home as much as you do. It's been such a personal project for me, to get that kind of response is very meaningful. The single most impactful thing I did design-wise was to shop thrift stores, antique shops and estate sales looking for interesting pieces with great lines that moved me. The house was being upgraded for a year and a half. In that time, I filled a large storage space full of wonderful finds that I later had reupholstered or painted. Now, every room has an anchoring piece that has been lovingly tweaked in one way or another. It was an effective way to fill the house with furniture that has unique style and great character.

House & Life:

When I read the article, I felt the house was a great entertainer. I don't always get that sense, even though a house may be beautiful. Can you give any of your secrets away on how to put people instantly at ease when they enter a home?

David Jimenez:

The house has a wonderful vibe to it. The architect was also the first owner and he put a lot of design details into the house that reflected how much he cared and it shows. In a similar way, I think preparing before guests arrive is as important as a warm greeting when you open the door. Making a signature cocktail ahead of time, playing great music, lighting a scented candle and dimming the lights, all send the message that you care about their experience and will go far in making them feel welcome.

House & Life:

As much as I thought I had you pegged as a neutral palette guy, I saw a picture of your Palm Springs Home. The yellow and black is so striking. Did you approach the colors with a bit more of whimsy, or could you be equally happy living with that palette every day?

David Jimenez:

The palette was heavily inspired by one of my favorite designers Kelly Wearstler. I chose that palette because it's a nod to the past while feeling fresh and bold. In order to ground the space and connect the rooms visually, I had the Spanish tile floors epoxied white. There's something luminous about all-white floors and the contrast with the colors throughout the house feels very sexy and fitting for Palm Springs.

House & Life:

Can I ask you your favorite restaurant?

David Jimenez:

I have two favorites. My absolute favorite restaurant is called Zuni Cafe, a beloved San Francisco institution with amazing food and a wonderful crowd. If you have the opportunity to visit, I would strongly recommend starting with a mound of fries, the Caesar salad and their world famous-chicken for two. These are classics Judy Rogers created and has had on the menu forever. I found another equally chic restaurant here in Kansas City called Le Fou Frog. It's a diamond in the middle of what seems to be a deserted block in downtown Kansas City. When you walk in the door and draw the thick velvet curtains, it's magical. You feel like you've been transported to a bohemian cafe in Paris; the food, the people, the music- truly amazing.

House & Life:

In a world where an interesting and effective decorative item becomes popular and eventually it shows up in most catalogs, do you hang on to it because you love it, or is it jinxed forever? In other words, do you take all the white coral and put it on a raft with a Suzani sail, never to be seen again?

David Jimenez:

Working in retail for as long as I have, it's easy to burn out quickly on trends. Things that you love today that are unique or special can become so overexposed that you tire of them. Similar to fashion, I think that there are some classics that stand the test of time and never lose their appeal (Chippendale or wing back chairs and camel back sofas are good examples). But just as clogs seem to come and go, at some point, so should the coral. Accessories are the least expensive way to update a room and rotating them keeps a home looking fresh and inspired.

Thank you David! I'm thrilled to call you a friend and I know this isn't that last we'll be seeing you. I have one picture from David's private collection of his gorgeous pool that I'm hanging on to and soon to post! For more of David's home in Kansas City, check this link from House Beautiful.
He was also kind enough to leave his email for readers:


Patricia Gray said...

Great Interview
The 2 restaurants he recommends sound really good. I love his work.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful opportunity you had to speak with David. His home caught my eye in HB.

Miss Dashwood said...

This is a beautiful post, H&L! I love his work! What an immense talent he has. I am a fan of David Jimenez -- and of your Blog! Can't wait to see more.

Pink Wallpaper said...

he seems so sweet! great interview!

Anonymous said...

What gorgeous homes, does he design for people's private homes?

House & Life said...

Thank you all for your comment so far!

House & Life said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
House & Life said...

I don't believe so at this time. Maybe in the future, you never know.

Carolina Eclectic said...

I just looked at his houses...they are amazing! Love your interview.

girl meets glamour said...

What a great interview! And I love your blog, thanks for stopping by mine to. You've got great style, and it's nice to meet another fellow Pennsylvanian!!

Would you mind if I linked you up with my blog?



Turquoise Chic said...

Awesome interview! I absolutely LOVE David's interiors. I printed out pictures of his 2 homes to use as inspiration. Thanks for the insight into such a talented individual!

House & Life said...

TC, Miss Dashwood, Me Myself and I,
GMG, CE, Pat Grey, PW....thanks for all your comments!

felicity said...

What a great interview!! and that last dining room of his with the yellow is unexpected joy :-)