Designer of the Month: Jerrica Zaric

 July has come to an end and it’s time to announce this months Designer of the Month. Our Designer of the Month, is Jerrica Zaric from Milwaukee, WI. Jerrica started her own business just four years ago, and in those four years has done some beautiful work! She loves to work with a blend of modern design with some elegance and isn’t afraid to use bold colors and different vibrant colors in her designs. Check out our interview with her to learn some more about what she loves!

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

I am the owner of Jerrica Zaric Interior Design (JZID) in Milwaukee, WI. We are a boutique, client-oriented firm that provides a bespoke turnkey approach to design services.

I started JZID in 2014 after spending a few years working as a project manager at a local advertising agency. In college, I double-majored in Fine Arts and Economics and always knew that I wanted to own an art-based business that focused on interior design. My time in advertising gave me the head start that I needed to hone my management skills while being able to moonlight as a designer.

Aside from work, I live in Milwaukee's Riverwest neighborhood with my husband and our sweet cat, Clementine. We enjoy traveling, trying new restaurants, and skiing.

2. What would you say your preferred design style is?

I have very eclectic tastes and a passion for many aesthetics. My work blends the strong principles of Modern design with amped-up elegance. I'm definitely not afraid of a lot of color and pattern mixing! It is important to me that the design brings in my taste-level while still reflecting the client's aesthetic preferences so they can grow into the space.

3. What design trends are you currently loving?

I like to tell my clients that we are currently post-trend. We don't have to play catch up to what is hot in the market or what other people in the neighborhood are doing. With that said, I am doing a lot of bathroom remodels right now and I am loving the new work being done with mosaic tiles and plumbing fixtures from more sculptural lines.

4. How about your favorite book/magazine on design?

I subscribe to House Beautiful, Architectural Digest, Elle Decor and Dezeen. Picking one favorite book is difficult but the one that I keep coming back to again and again is Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers by Leonard Koren. It's a quick read on a complex practice that is so different from what I do day-to-date. The book is a good reminder that there is beauty in imperfection.

5. Where do you find your design inspiration?

I look to influences taken from my travels, the fashion industry, and the art world. I have a degree in Fine Arts so Art History and the Conceptual Art movement are very inspiring to me.

6. Do you have a recent project you are proud of or a favorite project?

I, of course, love all of my projects but I'm especially proud of the Lilly Road project we did in Brookfield, WI. This was one of my first projects after launching JZID and the clients have become repeat customers.

The homeowners bought a new construction model home so they didn't have the opportunity to make material selections themselves. The wife is a transplant to Wisconsin from the Georgia area, so the super traditional color scheme and fixtures didn't mesh well with her Coastal style. We first started working together to redesign her living room, kitchen, and mudroom and then she hired me again to do her bedrooms. Now we are finishing up her basement where we converted it from an unfinished area to a luxurious suite for guests, tv watching, and a craft area. We are finishing up construction soon and can start furnishing it.

7. What is your biggest design challenge and how did you overcome it?

We do a lot of remodels so we are often having to deal with space challenges. One example is in a full home remodel that we are currently finishing up in Whitefish Bay, WI. The home is just over 1500 square feet we were tasked with carving out some space on the second floor for an additional full bath. We ended up converting a closet into a Jack and Jill bathroom but faced more challenges with selecting fixtures that would fit our client's traditional taste and the small footprint. There weren't a lot of combinations of sinks and toilets that could work aesthetically together while still meeting spatial requirements. We had to do a lot of digging through products but found the perfect combination through Kohler. These challenges are a bit inconvenient at the moment but it's what I love about remodeling. The more challenging the project, the more opportunity there is to push your creative boundaries and open yourself up to new and unexpected design solutions.

8. Do you have advice for people with small spaces?

Scale is crucial in small spaces. Don't try to stick too many things in the room. Being able to move easily in the space is so important! If you are wondering how much furniture you can fit in a room to maximize the efficiency, then measure the room and draw in furniture to scale, keeping in mind a few rules of thumb when it comes to walkways. You'll know real quick if you can fit everything in it or not. Once you have that figured out, you can go as wild as you want with the design. Small spaces can definitely have a big impact.

9. Do you typically design for residential, commercial, industrial, or hospitality?

We work primarily in residential spaces but do have a roster of wonderful commercial and educational clients.

10. Do you do any charity work or have any involvement in your community? If so, describe your work here.

We always have an overabundance of pint-sized paint samples from our projects but we only ever use a small portion of it. Instead of keeping it all in storage or disposing of it, we donate it to a great organization in Milwaukee, Artists Working in Education. They connect professional artists with local children to help nurture their imaginations by bringing creative visual arts experiences directly to schools, community centers and informal settings such as parks, playgrounds, libraries and community events.

11. What is your biggest achievement?

I'm most proud of how quickly business is growing. I went from being a solopreneur working from my house to having an office space and hiring my first employee within 3 years of opening. We have a great network of past clients that continue to refer us to friends and hire us again for other projects. We work with great people and work hard for our clients, so I was really proud when we were voted the Shepherd Express's, Best in Milwaukee for Interior Design for our great designs and attentive service.

12. What makes a happy home?

A happy home is one that functions for the client's lifestyle and reflects their personalities. A great way to do that is to build the design around items that the client picked up from their travels, their fabulous art, and items with family significance.

13. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job as a designer?

I love a good before and after story. There is often a few months between the time we create our design to final install and during that time we really get into the weeds with the details of it all. Once the design is implemented and we do our final walkthrough, I like to look back at the before photos to remind myself and the client how far we came. Often times, the house is unrecognizable! That transformation into something that the client loves is so rewarding!

14. The most frustrating part of your job?

Working with long lead times or backordered products. Once we find the perfect material or furniture piece and get the client excited about it, it's hard to wait. And if there is a factory error are if a product comes in damaged then we have to break the bad news to clients and talk them through the waiting game all over again. It's always worth it so I just have to keep client morale up through the tough points in projects.

15. If you had no limits (money, resources) what would you create?

I would work with artists to commission one-of-a-kind pieces that are site-specific and immersive. I've been dreaming of doing a long hallway with a light installation that somehow captures the colors and feels you get from a sunrise or a sunset or commissioning a Contemporary painter to let a whole room floor to ceiling be their canvas.

16. What's the best piece of advice you can give designers today?

Keep pushing to do something new. 

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