5 Questions with: Jean Liu

We spoke with Elle Decor A-List Designer Jean Liu on the differences between NY and Dallas clients, how the pandemic has impacted design and her top tip for refreshing a space.

1. What impact has the pandemic had on the future of home design?

We’ve had clients ask for several different changes to the program of their homes, but the most consistent one seems to be a multifunctional mudroom. What once used to be a small and diminutive pass through, is now becoming a major hub in the day to day functions of families. In response to the pandemic, we just completed a mudroom that included a shower, a sink, a washer and drying, an Amazon package drop off, and a bank of lockers for everyone including the nanny to store bags and shoes. The idea behind this mudroom to create a place immediately upon entering the side door to wash off and shed clothes before entering the main parts of the house. The good news is we got to incorporate more Ann Sacks tile into this part of the house!

Product: La Palma Rectangle Field Tile, Photographer: Casey Dunn

2. You work out of Dallas and New York. What are some of the key design differences between these two markets?

In New York, apartments tend to be smaller in square footage compared to Dallas. As such, most of our friends and clients spend much more of their time and energy focused on the design of their living room and bedroom but not so much on their kitchen or eating spaces. Dining, entertaining, and seeing friends is still predominantly taking place at restaurants even now with the sidewalk set ups all throughout the city. By comparison, many of our Dallas clients spend a large portion of their interiors and construction budget on kitchens. It is the heart of the house where family and friends gather. There are custom cabinets, gourmet ranges, and exquisite finishes to be found here—it’s undoubtedly a prime splurge area.

Another difference arising out of the space limitations in New York is the need for spaces to serve multiple purposes, whereas our Dallas projects have rooms with dedicated functions. For example, a living room in the city often has a seating area in the living room for lounging might also have to serve as a desk when working from him is required, and sometimes beds fold back into a sofa for use during the day. In Dallas, there are rooms to store one’s wine collection, rooms to house the numerous Christmas trees and ornaments, rooms to experience concert quality music, and rooms to watch movies. The programming is significantly more singular and specific.

Product: Savoy Classic Ribbed in Cottonwood, Photographer: Casey Dunn 

3. Top tip(s) for refreshing a space without a huge renovation budget?

We never cease to be amazed by what a fresh coat of paint or change in wall color can do for a space. As such, our top tip for a big lift on a small budget is to paint a room. It can give the space an entirely new personality. Another way to refresh a room is to change up the furniture layout and artwork. Shuffling the furniture around can change the way one experiences the room.

Product: Savoy Classic Ribbed in Cottonwood, Photographer:  Stephen Karlisch 

4. With it being summer, we’re all fantasizing about far-away destinations. What are ways you can create vacation vibes at home?

We our definitely missing our annual jaunt to Italy this year. We’ve made up for this by learning how to make and serve our own Aperol Spritzes at home along with trying to recreate some of favorite summer pasta dishes. Admittedly, the outcome is better when we just order from Eataly, but the failed cooking attempts still manage to help us channel some of the coastal summer vibes reminiscent of Lake Como.

The weather in Dallas has also proven unseasonably nice this year, so we’ve decided to take the opportunity to spruce up our outdoor living spaces by adding new pillows from our own Stori Modern collection. Just that little change has made a huge difference in the way our patio looks and functions. It’s been an inviting and unexpected way to enjoy our home this

Product: Gem by Kelly Wearstler Azure in Oatmeal, Photographer: Stephen Karlisch 

5. Favorite new Ann Sacks collection?

There’s so many to choose from, but we’re crushing pretty hard on the Terrazzo Renata collection, especially the fluted field tile. In fact, we are using this specific material for the new Sassetta restaurant in the Joule Hotel, opening later this fall. Stay tuned for sneak peeks and updates. You’ll want to be sure to check out the bathrooms—I promise it won’t disappoint!

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