We were delighted when we recently got a chance to sit down with one of our favorite Atlanta designers, Alison Womack Jowers. We’ve known Alison and her design partner (and mom), Cheryl Womack, for years and adore them as savvy design professionals and all around lovely and charming gals. In fact, Alison and Cheryl came on our inaugaral trip to Provence back in 2009 and what a great time we had.
Back here in Atlanta, Alison’s been a busy little bee and we’ve loved feasting our eyes on her collaborations.
HH: We had so much fun researching your work in preparation for this piece and one thing really stood out: you seem to love to incorporate an element of surprise in your rooms – like strong shots of color or one really clean modern piece in a room of quiet antiques. What’s your thinking behind this?
AWJ: I’m constantly analyzing the scale and style of furniture, fabric color and pattern placement and then refining these elements again and again until I’m at peace with a room (but trying to make it all look easy breezy!)
HH: You know we adore art and it’s part of our DNA. We see lots of abstract art in your work. Is that a hard sell with some of your clients or do may embrace and love it? Do you pick the art for them?
AWJ: I am very drawn to abstract art. I don’t feel it’s a hard sell but a natural complement to our designs. We are in awe and thankful to so many artists. It’s so exciting when we find the perfect painting that our clients love – and we love too!
HH: Even though your rooms seem so pretty and polished, they also feel very comfortable and welcoming. So, are you more a “live-in” person than a “look-at” person?
AWJ: Being from the South, I strongly feel a room should “welcome” you in. Creating a room where comfort, elegance and livability blend together seamlessly is paramount.
HH: What’s it like working with your mother? Do you squabble or work beautifully as a team? What do each one of you bring to the table?
AWJ: I adore this question! Working with Mom has been the most rewarding work experience I could ever imagine. I look up to and respect her as a mother, person and interior designer. The knowledge and resources she continues to provide is invaluable. I’ve always felt free to ask her any question, big or small. Of course there are times when things get tense but this usually passes quickly. We work across the room from one another, have dinner together and travel together (for education, work and pleasure.)
Mom has allowed me to take design risks that I may not have done working for or with someone else. It’s a luxury to spend time working and playing with your best friend.
HH: We notice you like to participate in designer show houses that benefit a good cause. Tell us about some of your favorite show house rooms.
AWJ: Mom and I are always proud and honored to participate in a show house benefiting a good cause. We have great admiration for the hard working committee members who tirelessly spend all year making each and every last detail come together.
I have to say my very favorite was the Atlanta Symphony Decorators Show house held at the St. Regis here in Buckhead. We had the master bedroom and we wanted sophistication with an edge.
The inspiration was based on the beautiful light coming into the room. We began with a soft, restful color palette of silvery grays and white and accents of vibrant yellows with hints of blue. The end result was bold and muted, modern and classic.
HH: Sounds like a perfect harmony of opposites attracting – and we think you nailed it! And here’s another question: what design elements can’t you live without?
AWJ: Transitional style has taken the spotlight – and I think it’s fabulous! Incorporating a mix of traditional and contemporary pieces, finishes, materials and fabric into a clean, minimalist color palette creates a smart and sophisticated room.
I love making a bold statement on the walls with few carefully chosen modern paintings and then pulling a color from the art to repeat with fresh cut flowers in a glass vase or throw pillows. I also like to carefully plan and place accessories to pull a room together – and I try never to forget that less is more when it comes to accents.
HH: What trends are you keeping an eye on?
AWJ: I’m always on the lookout for one-of-a-kind-pieces that put a unique, refreshing twist to my design. It’s the curiosities that make a house a home and engage your guests.
I’m also keeping an eye on softer tones of black and white that take the edge of the contrast; gorgeous electric blues like azure, beryl, teal, cobalt and sapphire and light, fresh and honey-toned woods.
(HH: oh we totally agree…loving peacock blue right now.)
HH: Your client has a tight budget. Do you advise them to purchase art, furniture or flooring?
AWJ: That’s a tough question because everyone begins a project from a different place. 99 percent of budgets don’t allow you to buy everything at once so I like to begin with an overall design plan for each room. This can be broken down into phases 1,2 or 3 based on budget or priority. One benefit is that you can “live and learn” what you ultimately want out of a room. And you’re going to end up with a richly layered, well-traveled room versus a store-bought, all-at-one-time look.
HH: And we can’t resist asking what’s your favorite paint color these days?
AWJ: Sherwin Williams Alabaster SW7008. White walls give a clean, bright contemporary appearance to a room. To avoid a look that is too sterile, steer towards a soft shade of white with a hint of rose or magnolia.
HH: Name three things you like to work into a room.
AWJ: A touch of black and at least one fine antique or an unusual accessory.
HH: Alison, we’re just in awe of your lovely, elegant and light touch. Thanks so much for your time and sharing your clever and sophisticated insights with us.
And, as we say around here: ta ta…
p.s. If you’re in town, don’t miss the 2014 Atlanta Symphony Decorators Show House. We were lucky enough to have a sneak peek and it’s wonderful.