I met designer and California girl, Joan Tesauro when she started playing tennis where I do. I remember distinctly her long hair, flower tennis bag, and unique style and instantly knew she was a cool chick. We later found ourselves on a tennis team together, and became friends. I discovered this East Coast transplant is funny, down-to-earth, and no-nonsense, (as you would expect from a Long Island girl), but is also a very talented and successful interior decorator.
Joan and Cedric.
When Joan helped me finish my pool bath remodel, I got to visit her at her office/studio which is attached her gorgeous home she shares with her husband and two darling persians, Smudge and Cedric. When I saw her studio, I was instantly envious. Here is the glamorous life I would have wished for myself growing up. Joan lives the girls’ dream! I knew I had to share it and have her on the blog.
Get Back JoJo is the name of her design firm and I love that. This girl doesn’t fit any stereotype. She’s chic, eclectic and marches to her own drummer. Her office is a mix of treasures from her travels, like lanterns from Morocco, as well as a wall of her Barbie doll collection that she begun at age 3. (I had a blast finding all the Barbie’s I once owned!)
As unconventional she appears, this designer knows her stuff. She’s a lover of gorgeous high-end fabrics and some of the finest furnishings out there. She knows what works,what’s worth spending your hard earned money on and what’s not. Yes, she’s a believer in investing in quality pieces.
As busy as Joan is helping Silicon Valley entrepreneurs furnish multiple homes, or shopping for clients, she kindly took some time out to chat over a fun girl’s lunch and revealed some of her style secrets and decor advice. as well as her dream project! I think you’ll have fun reading her take on design and life!
Joan, you are a California girl, but came here 14 years ago from the East Coast. How does that make you different from other California designers? Do you feel like you have embraced the California lifestyle and has it influenced your design choices?
Well…I always find the East Coast, especially NYC, work ethic or sensibility, is different in the form of time and urgency factor. I started working right out of college in the fashion industry, a very fast-paced environment, where late or absence was not accepted. These principles are ingrained in how I conduct business. I have a huge respect for time, not that California bred designers don’t; but I find a more casual approach to business out here in general.
I love California. As a kid traveling here many times and just visiting throughout my life there was always this draw to be here. I have always been intoxicated by the scenery, history and people. I have embraced my California. I take full advantage of the weather, which I must say, really is incredible especially growing up in NY where we had hurricanes, snow storms, thunderstorms and hailstorms! I just find that I get out more, I walk to places, I take in the environment and spend more time getting around because the weather is so wonderful. When you explore you see new things and find more inspiration, and more treasures!
Joan with her Barbie collection behind her.
What made you choose interior design and what do you most like about being a designer?
I transitioned really. Growing up I immersed myself in fashion and design and wanted to pursue a career in the fashion industry. Immediately following my graduation from Syracuse University, (where I studied all the principles of design) I started designing fabrics for swimwear, active wear and lingerie in NYC. BUT a sudden move to Northern California, I had to switch gears. I landed an incredible job with a fabulous renowned interior designer as his assistant I quickly learned the ropes!
I absolutely love what I do! There are so many incredible products out there, from fabrics, to wall coverings, to carpets, you name it- it is made and I just can’t get enough. I see so many wonderful things that I can place in someone’s home, I love the process of change and making things happen and really making the most of one’s personal space.
But #1 reason why I love what I do is the people I have met along the way; from my clients, to the vendors I work with. I am nothing without these people in my life. They all inspire me and make things happen!
Biggest pet peeve?
I just hate when people waste hard earned money on poor design choices!
What’s your favorite room to design/remodel?
I love working on children’s bedrooms.
I’m dying over these wall sconces with the gold branches! Smudge overseeing some work here.
Current favorite paint color and brand?
I love Farrow & Ball paints. I can’t say I have a favorite color it depends on the room and the light-HOWEVER I am prone to dirty yellows
If someone has a limited budget what one change would you say will make the most impact on their home? There are many quick fixes that actually don’t cost any money. Editing one’s home is great. If someone feels they don’t have enough space I always tell them to go through their closets,, get rid of the unwanted stuff. They are always amazed by how much space they really have! Donating clothing and old furniture is really rewarding and cleansing. It is a win-win. DECLUTTER!
You’ve traveled to a lot of exotic locals. Has that influenced the way you see the world and what appeals to you? Do you try to incorporate that into your aesthetic?
There is no question, travel has been very inspiring to me. My personal style is definitely influenced by Hollywood and Morocco, but only for me, I would not push that look on to my clients unless they wanted that look. Many times a client will stay at a resort or visit a great place and they get inspired and want that feeling again and we can make that happen and that is always fun. One of my clients travels to Japan quite often and we recently recreated the bathroom he loved where he was staying in Tokyo…just give me a visual and I can put it in your home
Is there a famous designer you admire working today? I have to say I really have a respect for Ralph Lauren, Mary McDonald and Barbara Barry all designers like me, that started in the NY fashion industry, with no formal interior design degree!
Do you find art and museums a source of inspiration? What about films and movie sets, like the kitchen from Something’s Got to Give, which has spawned a million imitations?
Well my Willow Glen conservatory was influenced by the original Great Gatsby movie……and I also did a “Gone with the Wind” drapery design. When I come up with a theme, I give my clients’ a point of reference, movies help!
Joan’s Gatsby-inspired room for a client’s conservatory! Love that chandelier. How fabulous must this room be at night as well?
This glam powder room was created for one of Joan’s clients who missed her Koi pond!
You have a lot of personal style as do most interior designers. Does that always go hand in hand? I have seen a few that aren’t so fashionable, but that’s not the norm.
Well thank you. I try to wear flattering clothes that work well for comfort but that have a flair. For me I enjoy putting looks together and so I guess translating it to what I wear is par for the course. I like good design in everything and QUALITY. If something is made well it will last a long time. This for me is so important not only in home design, but fashion design!
Meeting a client for lunch.
Favorite place to shop for yourself? Are you an online shopper at all? What’s on your wardrobe radar for fall?
WOW….I love shopping in boutiques. I only shop in clothing boutiques for myself. The service of having someone know what is between those racks of clothes and what would work for me and my budget-saves me time and aggravation. And no, for clothes absolutely no online shopping I need to feel the material. Huge fan of Simply Smashing in Campbell. Deb the owner knows my size, what I like and always gives me the heads up on what is new. Gosh! Radar Alert! Saw some cool studded motorcycle boots that I want…..As far as interior design shopping…..all of my vendors have online catalogues so I do a lot of virtual shopping, request samples and can really find everything I need right from my computer.
I have a niece who is interested in design. Can you give any advice to young people hoping to get into this field?
This is what I tell everyone: you must be a good waitress first in foremost in your life at some point: you will learn people skills, math, sales, moving fast and taking direction. If you can master that then definitely study design. I you can’t, then you probably should go into another field!
Another of Joan’s projects…I love the mix of colors and shades here.
An empty Kasbah in Morrocco, owned by Robert Plant, (lead singer of Led Zeppelin), who leaves me a key and his check book. Or Paul McCartrney needing his new NYC penthouse designed and furnished, let’s me stay there while I do it, and he gives me his keys and credit card!
Oh my gosh! Wouldn’t that be awesome? Don’t forget me when that happens Joan! 😀
I adore this girl. Thanks Joan for letting us have a little peak into your life and style!