Meet Jessica. An Ohio based designer with a serious eye for interiors. She has the biggest heart and is truly one of a kind. That is why I decided to launch my very first “Designer Spotlight” series with this lovely human! If you’ve ever seen her home, you know that she has taken her passion for design and DIY’s to a totally new level.
I have followed her for a while now and believe me when I say, everything she touches is beautiful and timeless. If you’re not already following her on instagram, do yourself a favor, hit that follow button and get inspired! In the mean time, take a seat and scroll down to hear more about Jessica and her design journey!
1. Tell us about yourself.
First and foremost, I’m a very proud Mama to our three sweet little humans, Owen (9), Lucas (7), and Katherine (4). I’m also a proud Air Force wife to my high school sweetheart, Jeff (AKA Chef Jeff of Dale’s Diner). We started dating in 10th grade English class, and ironically, the first time we ever hung out together we were building a small village for a book report. Shortly after that, we built a dog house for our first pup, a window seat for my high school bedroom, many other small DIY projects, and now many larger room transformations with no ending in sight!
When we aren’t renovating rooms and connecting with the awesome community of Instagram, I also get to support families as they bring new life into the world. I’ve been a Labor and Delivery RN, MSN for the past 11+ years, and it’s an experience that absolutely never ever gets old. I feel honored to get to be a part of this truly amazing moment again and again, and it’s something I’ve always seen myself doing since grade school.
As for a few other tidbits about me, I’m half Thai, half Caucasian, and currently practicing speaking Thai with the entire family! I don’t go a day (or hour) without talking to my Mama, who thankfully lives a quick 8 minutes down the road from us. We feel so lucky to have almost all our family/village here in Ohio, which will most likely always be home for us.
2. When would you say your passion for design began?
Growing up in the Air Force, we were constantly moving around. I specifically remember a time in Alaska, I was probably in 3rd or 4th grade, and I had saved all my money from various endeavors for new decor for my newest bedroom. Okay, so maybe I collected a variety of bugs, created “fancy” labels, displayed them around my yard and sold my neighbors tickets to my bug museum…it’s called entrepreneurship, ha!
Anyway, that’s my earliest memory of when design felt exciting to me. I mean seriously though, what 4th grader uses all their money on a new comforter set, throw pillows, frames and candles?! Move forward to my high school bedroom in Ohio where I immediately envisioned having a window seat — so of course I contracted that idea out to my hunky high school boyfriend, Jeff. Fortunately, his talents went beyond woodworking, as he also helped me sew a cushion for the seat, as well as throw pillows, AND hand made wooden butterflies that I mounted on my wall. I blame Mariah Carey’s Butterfly album for that design choice, haha.
For as long as I can remember, my Dad always took the time to excitingly share his woodworking projects with my brother and I. Unfortunately for him, it was one of those, “you’ll thank me later” situations. Did I really care about stopping everything I was doing to go down to his woodshop every day and admire his latest joinery of a chair or side table he just built? No. Not then, at least. But I can confidently say it’s because of him that I deeply appreciate the finest of details when it comes to design and craftsmanship today.
To be honest, I never saw myself ever shifting away from nursing, and especially didn’t think I’d be able to turn my personal hobby into a primary focus in my life. But like many, the pandemic changed things for me. Over the last year and a half-ish that I’ve shared our DIY journey on social media, did I realize that I finally feel like I’ve found my biggest joy (besides my family, of course).
3. How would you describe your design style?
I was recently listening to a podcast interview of my very talented Interior Design friend Melissa from @oho_interiors, and she was asked this same question. She described her style as “Updated Traditional” and I’ve never felt more connected to a design style label! Obviously design styles can evolve and change with time, but the common theme in our home style has always had a traditional foundation with modern elements.
4. Who are some designers that have inspired you?
Oh I love this question! I’d have to say my top three DIY designers would be Jennifer from @Makingprettyspaces, Christine from @Honeybuilthome and Molly from @thelonegooseco.
All three women are constantly serving up all kinds of inspiration and motivation. From small to large projects, the best part of what they all share in common is that they take the time to actually teach their community HOW to do what they do. While I’m much newer to the DIY content creator world, I can seriously appreciate the time, effort, energy and hard work it takes to do so!
As for a few other Interior Designers I deeply admire, I always find myself drooling and studying the work of Jake Arnold, Sean Anderson, Jean Stoffer, Katie Hodges, and the ladies of Light And Dwell. Their designs always have my eye interested in every tiny detail, feel warm and inviting, and are always scroll stoppers.
“I’d say my biggest motto is ensuring form and function collide.”— mrsjessicadarling
5. Tell us a little about your process when styling a space.
One of my favorite things to do when envisioning a new project is to sit in the space, and challenge Jeff to simultaneously sketch how we feel/see the space looking. We did this for our garage project and sketched identical built in cabinetry! While I typically steer the ship on designing a space, it’s definitely a collaborative effort with my husband. Speaking of Jeff, a lot of our process includes Jeff just holding up various items, (wallpaper, lighting, trim, etc) while I stare in silence trying to make a decision.
As for principles, I’d say my biggest motto is ensuring form and function collide. I’m all for “pretty” designs, but if they aren’t functional, I’m typically not all in. Take our mudroom for example. I knew I wanted a pretty beadboard detail with a peg rail, but with three kids, I knew we needed more than just one row of hooks.
6. What is your favorite transformation and why?
I think Jeff and I would both agree our Parlor + Garage are tied for first place, and for very different reasons. The Parlor has become my morning sanctuary, and a space we all didn’t know we needed. The Garage is a very functional space the entire family uses daily, that we transformed from an absolute dumpster fire status, to an organized dream space!
For the Parlor project we converted a very underutilized formal dining room, into a warm and welcoming space. We added beautiful dentil crown moulding, built a fireplace, used a muted olive color on the walls and ceiling, and added lighting. The kids almost always know they can find me in there, and my only regret is not creating it sooner.
The garage was always a massive pain point for us, and one that desperately needed attention. My focus was to make the garage feel like an extension of the interior space of our home, and I couldn’t love the outcome more! We built the custom cabinetry ourselves, added beautiful wood toned slat walls for storage, finished the drywall, added trim, and had polyurea flooring installed. Another project we wish we tackled sooner!
7. What’s next for Mrs. Jessica Darling?
Oh goodness! I feel like I could go on and on about all my ideas and dreams for where I see MJD in the next 5-10 years. I can’t believe how much FUN we’ve had over the short one and a half years we’ve been here. I really hope that we are lucky enough to continue building, sharing, and connecting with this extremely supportive and kind community.
In the near-ish future, we dream of sharing woodworking workshops, fun cooking lessons, and endless home projects with you. We hope you’ll join us and follow along!