He’s designed homes for celebrities including Kaley Cuoco, Ryan Seacrest and Kris Jenner, and his work has been celebrated in books, magazines and on television. ELLE Decor magazine recently ranked him among the world’s best interior designers. We spoke with Jeff about designing for luminaries, the sparkle myth, and his obsession with Belgian limestone.
When and how did you know you were interested in design?
I think that from a very young age I knew how things should look. I had a good sense of my surroundings and paid attention to style, architecture and design. During my childhood we moved frequently so I would use this to my advantage by redecorating my room in every new place and helping my mom arrange the furniture and art. As an adult I got bored easily, changing apartments all the time and every one had a different design vibe. I feel that design has always been a part of my life.
Who was your first design client?
A friend of mine introduced me to Eleanor Mondale, the former Vice President’s daughter who was a correspondent for CBS This Morning at the time. We clicked instantly, and she asked me to help style her new house. By the end I had designed the entire home that was eventually photographed for House & Garden magazine. Not bad for a rookie! I went on to design several homes for her over the years. She was the first person to really encourage me and let me believe I could be a successful interior designer. I actually dedicated my book to her.
You wrote a whole book about glamour called The New Glamour. What do people think glamour is, and what is it actually?
Old Hollywood Glamour has been etched in my mind for as long as I remember. With all its extravagance and formality. I feel that the feeling of glamour in interiors has transformed into what I call “The New Glamour”. Still as lovely and decadent as before, but on a modern and livable level that reflects how we live today. I’ve come to realize that glamour is also an internal feeling, and it really has to be defined by the individual. Glamour in your home doesn’t have to be all glitz and glitter. It is achieved not just through extravagance but also through restraint. Glamour is a state of mind: Living life in a home that makes you happy, surrounded by things that bring you joy.
You own a Shiba Inu who’s allowed on your furniture. How does one design a home that’s both glamorous and livable?
In order for beauty to last it must be livable, and that counts doubly in your home. It’s one thing for something to look good, and it’s another for it to be livable and usable. I work with a lot of families and people with pets. While nothing is indestructible, it is possible to select materials that are durable as well as luxurious. One must also accept that nothing is forever, and things will eventually have to be revised and sometimes replaced. Half the fun of design is letting your surroundings evolve with you and sometimes embracing the imperfections that come with it.
What are some hallmarks of a Jeff Andrews home?
I personally don’t feel I have a signature style, but am often reminded by my friends and clients that I do. The things that are important to me are scale and proportion, the mix of different styles and eras, rooms with subtlety as well as grand gestures and soothing color palettes full of texture, pattern and drama. Creating beautiful homes that are original, comfortable, and reflective of the personalities of the people that live there is my goal as a designer.
What is your design not?
It’s not predictable. Every client is different, and every project is different, and everyone’s needs and lifestyles are different, and that’s what makes it interesting. I feel like what makes a designer successful is that they’re not so trapped in their own aesthetic or signature style. For me, it’s really not about that; it’s about stretching your design muscles all the time and reinventing the way you look at things. Repetition is really boring.
How would you describe your client-designer relationship?
At first you have to get to know them, develop trust and get into their brain to figure out what it is they really want. What is the end goal for their space/home/lifestyle? So there’s a lot of conversation. Mostly, at this point in my career, the client comes to me because they know what I can do. They’ll tell me things from my own work that resonate with them. The key thing for me to do as a designer is to listen, then I can interpret the client’s needs into a cohesive design aesthetic.
What’s it like working with celebrities?
There is always a sort of energy surrounding people who are famous. Working with other creatives is a totally different experience than working with a banker or anyone who doesn’t work in the entertainment industry. There’s something different about the language and the level of visualization. Creatives can understand your creative process, because half of what we do as designers is try to communicate what’s going on in our head without feeling like we’re being over controlling and taking over. Additionally, celebrities are very used to things happening very quickly, and you have to keep up with that pace while being honest about what you can do and how quickly you can do it.
You’ve done a fair number of large-scale mosaics. How do you conceptualize those?
I like to play with pattern, scale and proportion. Mixing different materials together to make an original floor, kitchen backsplash or in a bathroom. Coming up with my own custom designs is inspiring for me. Mosaics in general are such a great way to add texture, drama and originality to any space.
What role does tile play in your design?
I’m naturally drawn to tile, especially tile that’s hand-glazed or has very interesting colors, shapes and textures. I find tile very organic, and there are so many different ways to utilize it. There’s something so original about what you can create with tile, especially when combined with other organic materials such stone, wood, and concrete. The possibilities are endless.
Do you have any favorite Ann Sacks tiles?
I love so many of them! It depends on the project. I’m about to start a renovation on a new house for myself and I’m using Pierre Noire Belgian Limestone that has this really beautiful leathered finish to it. I’m doing the floors in both bathrooms and my kitchen with it, because it’s just so perfect. It has the right amount of rusticity but also looks modern, and it’s a very dark charcoal gray, almost black, and it’s extremely forgiving. It’s the perfect flooring for me. Another favorite of mine is the Made Elements collection of tiles. The array of colors and hand glazed texture is outstanding!
What makes for timeless design with the caveat that nothing’s timeless?
I think that’s where the mix of elements is very important, because if you go too far in any one design direction, you run the risk of it looking dated sooner than later. Mixing very current things with things from the past leaves no specific time frame reference.
It’s important to remember that nothing is forever and allowing for evolution is necessary. Your home has to change with you and always inspire you.
That’s what life is all is all about; living artistically, in comfort with your own personal glamour at every turn.