Jeffrey Marks: Traditional with a Comfortable Edge
By: Daedrian McNaughton
Jeffrey Alan Marks believes the design process should be fun and creative much like his designs and personal style, which blends California ease with English formality. Having lived in Paris and Milan for many years where he worked as a model and then in design, his work also draws cues from Italian and French methods. Marks studied design at the prestigious Inchbald School of Design in England. Marks’s colorful, laid back design style translates to the atmosphere at his firm, JAM Inc, which he started 15 years ago. Based in Santa Monica, the firm designs and develops luxury homes in America and the United Kingdom and develops commercial projects including restaurants and retail stores such as Tavern restaurant in Brentwood and The Hungry Cat in Santa Monica.
Which Bravo celebrity home would you like to redecorate?
Jeffrey Marks: I’d like to get my hands on Rachel Zoe’s house.
What do you think you’d do in there?
Jeffrey Marks: I think I’d just clean it up, make it maybe a little bit more in line with her fashion taste. A little cleaner, a little bit more hip, not so sparing; More decoration, more life to it.
Are there any that passed?
Jeffrey Marks: Hmm, I like Casey Grammar’s wife’s ranch house in Malibu. Not sure if she still has it after the divorce but I loved that space.
Any summer decorating tips?
Jeffrey Marks: Because we have such great light out in California and great weather, I mean why not do outdoor rooms for the summer? Just temporary three-month structures that have a great life for the summer. I love doing that. I do that all the time with my furniture that I’m not using. I just throw it outside on the lawn and use it for the summer. I love Kathryn’s outdoor fabrics. I think Kathryn’s fabrics are almost better outside. Love it.
What will the show do for the viewers?
Jeffrey Marks: I think it’s going to make them feel better again. I mean it’s something to not necessarily to aspire to but something light and not so dark and blowing up people basically. Kathryn’s had such a lovely party. I mean it didn’t cost necessarily a lot but it was just a labor of love. I mean Kathryn’s children did it for her and they cooked and it was such a lovely party. And I think that’s the $1 million lifestyle has a lot to do with that as well. Family and friends and just enjoying yourself, relaxing. It really defined my style as well I think the last two years. You really sort of buckle down.
How did you get involved in the show?
Jeffrey Marks: We’re all friends and I think they saw us interacting in the beginning. And they loved the fact that we were all friends and got along and were inspired by each other. And I think that was really important to them. We’re not the kind throwing things at each other when we see each other. And I think the press has applauded us as well because the three of us just got Top 25 decorators in the world from El Décor. I mean that’s a huge honor.
What’s your decorating style?
Jeffrey Marks: Traditional with a comfortable edge. I mean I think personalized comfort is very important to me and to give them the sophisticated look that maybe they want but take it down a notch and have great personalized comfort.
What have you learned over the years in decorating?
Jeffrey Marks: I’ve been doing this for 20 years now and I think that you learn pretty quickly in the first couple of meetings that it’s bad news if the client’s not reacting correctly.
Was there a lot of drinking while filming?
Jeffrey Marks: We did drink a lot – wine.
Was it stressful filming and working on these projects in a limited time frame?
Jeffrey Marks: We all travel a great deal and we’re all running very high end businesses. We’re business people in the end. We’re up very early and we work very hard and we play very hard as well. So I think that shows in the show.
It sounds like this job is a bit stressful on your relationships also.
Jeffrey Marks: Oh, my god, yes. We are together 24/7 so you see us turn off and turn on for work or home and that’s not an easy task. And you see you do see on the show the stresses. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes we drink – a lot.