Janie Molster believes great design should delight, inspire, and embrace her clients. With a portfolio that ranges from family homes to boutique hotels, urban apartments, restaurants, and retail stores, the Richmond, Virginia designer is equally adept at transforming public and private spaces.
What inspired this career path for you?
I had no choice; design followed me around, haunting me, and then sat on my shoulder like a little bird reminding me about what I was supposed to be doing. I studied English literature in college and planned to teach. Shortly after I married and we bought our first home, friends began asking me for advice on their homes. Then it was friends of friends asking and so on. A dear friend had business cards printed for me as a birthday gift. That’s the genesis.
What is your go-to source for inspiration?
Seeing new environments is like pushing a re-set for me. I can solve the old problems on my desk so much more effectively with the fresh perspective of travel. Trade shows are great for spotting the new products but true confessions: I love the individual design and styling in all the small booths and showrooms. They have to pack such a punch and convey so much in such a tiny space. I find ingenious creativity on display there.
Tell us about your creative process.
Discovery: Peeling back the layers of your client’s onion and identifying wants and needs.
Organization: Defining a scope of work, timeline, and budget.
Making Magic Happen: Creating schematics. At this point I turn into a bit of the Tasmanian Devil. My mind starts racing and I generally tear up my office digging for things. I see ideas everywhere. I wake up early in the a.m. and several times during the night. I am obsessed until I get my head around the bulk of it. It’s crazy, busy, and exciting. Definitely an adrenaline rush
Describe your style in 6 words or less.
A balanced use of COLOR is a connecting thread in my design work. With a reverence for ANTIQUES, I also have IRREVERENCE for rules and “period” design. The mix of old and new creates a design tension that I embrace. APPROACHABILITY is important to me. I like rooms to be straightforward, and I avoid the use of contrived decorating gimmicks. My SOUTHERN heritage has taught me that “home” needs to embrace everyone who enters and convey a sense of warmth and welcome. At the end of the day, I never tire of BEAUTY. I find it all around me in the design world; the delicate turn of a chair leg, the glimmer of a crystal lamp, or the sheen of a lacquered wall. Creating more beauty in my clients’ lives is always the ultimate reward. Irreverent but approachable Southern designer, collecting antiques, playing with color, and creating beauty.
What’s a staple in your tool kit?
Antiques and then artwork. There really doesn’t need to be much else if the art and the rugs are good. I always like a contextual rub, like an antique Flemish still-life painting between a pair of Jacques Adnet armchairs. Contrast enhances differences, which makes the individual pieces shine and ultimately brings a room to life.
Who do you look up to in the design world?
John Saladino, Susan Ferrier, Gerrie Bremermann, Nancy Braithwaite
If you could design a space for anyone, what kind of space and for whom would it be?
An independent woman, old enough to know her taste and confident enough to hand over the reins to a trusted pro. It’s not a primary home—more of a place to refuel and relax. Definitely on the water, with lots of floor to ceiling steel windows and polished concrete floors and walls. I would start with colorful Moroccan rugs on the floor and several large, mural-scaled contemporary paintings. Seating would be a few comfortable upholstered chaises strategically placed, and several stacks of large velvet floor pillows. Dinners would be on the floor on pillows around an oversized low-slung coffee table.
Tell us your favorite design-related word, phrase, or quote.
“I can’t paint. I can’t write. I can’t sing. But I can decorate and run a house, and light it, and heat it, and have it like a living thing.” –Elsie de Wolfe . . . . I read this recently and I had a weird déjà vu sensation. I have had these same sentiments so often.
Which design blog, website, TV show, or magazine would you be lost without? The World of Interiors, Condé Nast Traveler, and Tatler. . . . my airplane porn for pleasure trips.
What do you love about Viyet?
Viyet is a wonderful platform for sourcing unique finds at great prices. It is accessible, easy to navigate, and equally friendly for designers and our clients. The variety is wonderful—it’s easy to accomplish so much on one site.