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Designer Highlight: Our Chat with Erika Jayne Design

I am excited to continue District Rug Shoppe's designer highlight this week with another amazing talent in the greater D.C. area: Erika Jayne Chaudhuri, Principal Designer and Owner of Erika Jayne Design. We bumped into one another virtually on instagram this winter, planned a few collaborations on now-delayed photo shoots, and became friends in the process. I have been floored by the warm, collected, and modern designs Erika produces. Her design is intentional. It is balanced. And it is bespoke. Read on to learn about how she niched down on her target market, trends she is loving in kitchen and bath design, design tips, and more.

DRS: You own your own interior design studio, and specialize in kitchen and bath renovations. How did you know you wanted to launch a business with this focus?

EJD: Having worked in the industry for 10 years, I realized there's a niche in the kitchen & bath market that wasn't being fulfilled. Homeowners looking for full-service design are typically having to hire and manage all of the professionals separately which can be overwhelming; an interior designer, a cabinet vendor/maker, and the contractor. Depending on the scope of work, they might need to hire an architect as well. The other option is to work with a design/build firm which can be expensive and limiting as you're working with their in-house designers and tradespeople. Plus, homeowners have less control over how their money is allocated as they lose the ability to bid their project for the build-out. 
The EJD business model consolidates the multi-professional approach while allowing our clients the flexibility to control a large part of their project & budget, their contractor. We offer full comprehensive interior design & interior architectural design, a variety of cabinet lines, and our clients have the ability to compare and contrast multiple contractor bids.
via Erika Jayne Design

DRS: Your studio offers interior architecture and interior design services. What’s the difference, and when would a client need one vs. the other? 

EJD: Generally speaking, interior design is concerned with the art-side of a design (color schemes, textiles, furnishings, art work, etc.), interior architecture is the science-side of a design (spatial relationships/planning, building codes, construction documents, structural knowledge, etc.) For a typical kitchen renovation, interior architecture comes into play when we expand the size of a kitchen without adding to the existing footprint of the home. Our interior design service allows us to develop the style and tone of the space through the selection of colors, finishes, materials, etc. 
via Erika Jayne Design

DRS: How would you describe EJD’s design aesthetic?

EJD: I'm a mixer of styles so this is a tough one to pinpoint. I'm a minimalist by nature and I'm all about the juxtaposition of objects from vastly different eras and cultures. I prefer a timeless refined look with an approachable feel. 

via Erika Jayne Design

DRS: You specialize in kitchens and baths. What do you think is the most overlooked aspect/most common mistake in kitchen design?

EJD: Overlooking textiles. A lot of focus is placed on the hard surfaces and while the cabinetry, tile and countertops are essential elements in any kitchen, the texture, warmth, color, and pattern that textiles offer can completely alter the feel and tone of a space. Window treatments, cushioned seating, a rug from The District Rug Shoppe ;) are just a few ways you can incorporate textiles into any kitchen or bathroom design. 

DRS: When designing a bathroom, what is the ONE thing where you think it most pays to spend versus save? 

EJD: Save on the vanity, and splurge on the tile. Keep in mind, this advice is coming from someone who sells cabinetry, so there you have it! With so many gorgeous vanities available online you can get a real bang for your buck if you're able to go prefab versus custom.

Tile is a predominant element in a bathroom and the right material and application can significantly elevate the space.  If budget allows, go for laser-cut natural stone mosaics or a slab of variegated marble for your shower walls in lieu of tile.  In a small bathroom, applying a tile wainscot with corresponding tile chair rail and baseboard trim will add interest and works beautifully in a space that balances contemporary with classic design.  


via Erika Jayne Design

DRS: Who is inspiring you these days?

EJD: Multi-hyphenate Athena Calderone, the creative force behind Eyeswoon. I not only admire her creative talents but the way she embraces her many talents, her humility in her many successes, and her tireless social activism is truly inspirational. 
Athena Calderone -

DRS: What is a design trend that you are loving right now?

EJD: Kitchens that take on a living room feel. Many homeowners are opting for less wall cabinets and more artwork and open shelving adorned with decorative elements that you would otherwise find in a living or dining room. While a utilitarian approach will always be at the forefront of kitchen design, seeing as open concept living is trending and considering the amount of time we spend in our kitchen, it only makes sense to treat it as a living space and design it to be a continuation and direct reflection of the design aesthetic found throughout the rest of the home. 
Devol Kitchens
M. Elle Design Modern Farmhouse Kitchen with living room feel

via Erika Jayne Design

DRS: You mentioned once that in addition to being an interior designer, you are an artist. What is your preferred medium? 

EJD: I have a small studio in my home where I can escape to paint, another love and creative outlet of mine. Although interior design/interior architecture are inherently creative fields, painting allows me total creative freedom, something I don't always get to enjoy as I navigate the building codes, guidelines, restrictions, and the precision and accuracy required for measurements, documentations, and detailed drawings in residential design. 
Erika Jayne Design art

DRS: Any advice for someone just starting their design or creative business?

Gain the experience. Learning how to work with and negotiate with vendors, how to work with homeowners, manage the many trades, and most importantly working alongside an experienced designer is gold, pure gold. I have had the pleasure of working with many and I've learned many invaluable lessons and avoided many valuable mistakes by doing so!
Thanks to Erika Chaudhuri for sitting down with us to share her perspective! You can learn more about her work on her website. All EJD portfolio photos highlighted above were photographed by Christy Kosnic Photography.