I recently have had the pleasure of interviewing the engaging Jaclyn Harper - owner and principal designer of the Burlington, Ontario based design firm - Harper Designs. Her specialty? Interior designs makeovers!
Currently the TV home decor expert on CTV Southwest, Global Morning, and Your Morning. Harper can also be recognized from shows like Morning Live, Morning Live First Edition, Tiny Talent Time, and the Shopping Channel.
Here's what the talented Jaclyn Harper has to say about her life and career as a designer:
Houseporn (HP): What's your background in interior design, and what inspired you to get into your field?
Jaclyn Harper (JH): I loved interior design as a little girl. I remember decorating my dollhouse and rearranging all the furniture for my Barbies. I know that my early love for interior design was inspired by my mom. She was always redecorating our home. In 2015, after working as a Morning Show Host for 4 ½ years, the company I worked for went bankrupt and I was forced to find a new career. For years I had been giving design advice and helping friends with their homes. This was the perfect opportunity to finally jump into the world of design for a living. I freelanced as ‘Harper Designs’ for a local design firm for a few years and had the opportunity to style for an episode of The Property Brothers “Buying and Selling”. As of February of this year, I launched my own Design Firm and haven’t looked back since.
HP: It looks like this passion for design started at a really young age! What's one of the projects you're working on right now in Canada that excites you?
JH: Every project that I work on excites me. I’m working on about five home renovations at the moment and each project is so unique. There’s one home that is probably one of the most creative projects I’ve ever worked on. It has an industrial modern aesthetic. We’re incorporating some raw steel beams into the space, we’re using soapstone, a cork island, and a gorgeous Quartz backsplash. The bathroom designs are incredibly modern as well.
Jacklyn Harper's beautiful kitchen
HP: That sounds gorgeous! What trends or changes do you see coming in your industry which you like, or don't like?
JH: One trend I’m noticing that is completely changing our industry is E-Design Services. At Harper Designs, I offer 3D Renderings, Vision Boards, and 3D Floor Plans and some projects are exclusively virtual. There are a lot of Design Firms that may not be able to offer these services just yet and I believe that could be a great disadvantage.
HP: I always enjoyed building vision boards of my own! How do you do to find your creative inspiration?
JH: I love using Pinterest for creative inspiration. If you follow my Pinterest account you can see boards for several projects I’m currently working on, as well as designs that inspire me.
HP: What is your favourite - or most compelling - example of Canadian houseporn?
JH: When scrolling through your site, one of the most compelling designs was this Toronto Modern Cube. This reminds me of a modern home I’m currently working on actually. The husband said he could literally live in a cement cube and the wife likes a modern casual style. It’s been fun trying to come up with something that pleases them both.
HP: When you design, where do you tend to get your materials from? Are they locally sourced materials and furniture for example?
JP: When it comes to the materials I’m using it always depends on the project and the contractor. If I’m working on a home renovation, I will almost always work with the suppliers my contractor has relationships with. All of these are local, but on a rare occasion, we will have specialty items shipped in from the States. When I’m purchasing furniture, fabric, and other décor essentials, I always use my local suppliers. Most of the items are made in Canada but my lighting supplier tends to order in a lot of lights from California.
HP: How would you describe your design style?
JH: I like to describe my design style as modern casual. Great for families and entertaining. Really comfortable fabrics, furnishings, and aesthetic. I love crisp whites, pops of black, hints of blue, and warm caramel leathers.
HP: You currently reside in Burlington, Ontario; do you find that your immediate surrounding influences your work and design?
JH: I absolutely find that my immediate surroundings influence my work and design. I live less than 10 minutes [away] from about 20 design stores (if not more). This makes a huge impact on my business. Knowing that I can spend less time driving to locations and more time actually sourcing for my clients is a huge win. I also think it’s extremely important to support the local businesses in your community.
HP: Were there any defining moments in your career?
JH: This past year has been a whirlwind for me. I have achieved so many of my long-term business goals in such a short amount of time that it gets me so excited for the future of my business. To name a few, I was featured by House & Home Magazine (I literally cried when they called me), I’ve been featured as a design expert on shows like CTV Your Morning, CTV Southwest, Breakfast Television, CHCH Morning Live, and CBC. I styled for an episode of The Property Brothers “Buying and Selling” – also a huge milestone. I’m looking forward to seeing what next year holds for Harper Designs.
HP: That is impressive! Do you feel like you’re unique compared to others in your field?
JH: I believe that every Design Firm is unique because we all have completely different tastes. You could have another designer and myself design the exact same room with the exact same furnishings and it would still look very different. With this said, I know my clients are hiring [me] for my specific design aesthetic. There’s more than enough work to go around, so it’s important to just keep your head down and work as hard as you can for the clients that choose your firm.
HP: What do you think is the biggest misconception when it comes to interior design?
JH: The biggest misconception about interior design is that it’s all paint colours and fabric swatches. It’s SO MUCH MORE than that. You could go to school for design and know everything there is to know about paint colours, but if you can’t communicate your ideas well or you have a hard time speaking with people, you just won’t make it in the industry. I have learned that there is actually so much more math than I had ever expected, I’ve learned so much about running a business and having consistent processes and lastly, you need to be able to market yourself.
HP: What do you like most about your job? And what do you find most challenging?
JH: My absolute favourite part of what I do is the reveal. It’s so incredible to bring your vision to life and to show your clients after months of waiting for their custom sofa, area rugs, draperies etc. how their space has been transformed. Just like the anticipation for the reveal on the HGTV shows…it’s magical.
To learn more about Jaclyn Harper, visit Harper Designs
All photos courtesy of Jaclyn Harper.
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Interviewed and written by Guhar Ullah, specializing in Architecture at University of Toronto's John H Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design.