Maggie Jerde Joyce, founder of Maggie Jerde Design, is a Boston-based interior designer who believes that a home should be as unique as the people who live in it and a place that is a true reflection of the history, experiences, interests and passions of its residents. She had over 16 years experience working for premier design firms in New York and London, before opening her own in 2009 on the South Shore of Boston, where she resides with her husband, two boys, two dogs, and six chickens.
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How did you discover your passion for design?
I was born into a family chock-full of architects and designers, so design is in my blood. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been tearing out the pages of every shelter magazine I could get my hands on and would proceed to catalog the torn-out pages in clear-sheet protectors in notebooks, organized by room. Some of my favorite childhood memories involve sitting at my dad’s drafting table, drawing up floor plans for my dream home, complete with a phone booth in the powder room. (It’s all about the details!) In college, I majored in Studio Art, but my love of interiors kept getting stronger and stronger. Hence, why I went to work for a designer upon entering the “real world.”
What is your favorite decorative object at home?
Hundo percent my favorite item at home is my dad’s custom-made burl-wood-and-walnut desk, complete with brass inlay trays, perfect for storing pens, paper clips, architectural scales, bevs (his preferred Tab and my water with a touch of lemonade, if it’s before 5 p.m.), and big enough to perform, in his words, “surgery on a horse.” My dad, who is no longer with us, was an amazing architect who inspired me beyond belief, so I love nothing more than designing at his desk every single day.
Read more about how to display your favorite unique accessories, on the blog.
Is design an art or a science?
To me, design is as much a science as it is an art. Most days I find myself playing a psychologist. The vast majority of what I do is problem-solving, staying organized, and managing clients. It is essential to LOVE designing, the creative aspect of my work, which is about 20% of my job, in order to face the other challenges that come with the job. After all, it’s all about keeping our clients happy, which involves winning over their trust, understanding what they want, helping them through the process, delicately dealing with issues as they arise, the list goes on. Both sides of the brain are constantly at work!
Do you have any go-to color or pattern combinations?
It really depends on the setting and the environment I’m trying to create. I use color to elicit an emotional response more than anything else. For me, it’s all about how a person experiences the space rather than going after trends or trying to be “different.” I want people to feel good, calm, and inspired. If I want a particular space to be comfortable and cozy, I will go with warm, earthy tones, which look gorgeous with blues and grays. If there is a space I want them to feel invigorated in, I will opt for jewel tones. As for pattern combinations, I la-la-la-love pairing completely unexpected fabrics, like floral and plaid. It’s all about pattern combinations that you really have to work for to get right.
Love unexpected design choices, too? Check out some of our best colorful finds.
When do you consider a completed project a success?
When my clients walk in the door and start crying, which then makes me and my amazing team cry.
Share your biggest design secret.
The best thing a designer can do is put the time in on the front end to gain your client’s trust, get to know them, what they want, what they are all about. Magic happens when the client feels that you completely get them and their aesthetic. Nine times out of 10, they give you the freedom to design (read: let you do your thing without micromanaging the process). Regardless of the process, I’m always going to deliver a home that is completely them. I just prefer to have the space to do what I do best. You feel me?
What is the most common design mistake you see?
When people, be it designers or homeowners, slap together designs led by of-the-moment trends. To me, these spaces feel lifeless.
How do you balance style, comfort, and functionality?
I always start with considering how the space I’m designing will be used, and addressing those needs first. For a dining room, for instance, I figure out the pieces I need, as well as the materials to use that will withstand wear and tear, like upholstered dining chairs covered in a beautiful performance fabric. Then it’s all about paying attention as the room comes together, and making adjustments as needed so that the resulting space is cohesive.
Is there a specific item you typically use as a starting point? (Ex: rug, artwork, statement piece, furniture)
In the beginning of a project, I go through a very specific process with my client to get to know them, how their family lives, what they want, their design sensibility, etc. Each client/project is different, so this is an essential first step to ultimately deliver a home, a space that was tailor-made for them.
What do you think about Sotheby’s Home?
I’m obsessed! It’s an incredible antique and design show that I can source from my desk! Plus, my clients have champagne tastes but are hesitant to pay trade plus markup pricing for, say, Holly Hunt, so this is a great resource.