Interior Design Specialist Jane Lockhart on Feng Shui, Trends, and Inspiration

Jane Lockhart is one of Canada’s best-known authorities of interior design. Lockhart, who has been practicing interior design for 25 years, is the principal designer of Jane Lockhart Interior Design. An author and TV personality, Lockhart is an expert in her field. Her firm specializes in interior design for retail, hospitality, home building and residential clients, and has been recognized with awards from national associations on several occasions. It continues to practice across Canada. Beyond Fashion Magazine sat down with Jane Lockhart, who shared some advice she has received while working in the field, and some tips for homeowners.

What kind of things do you look to for inspiration when designing?
Travel is a big part of my inspiration. Last fall, I was in the south of Spain, and just seeing how they use colour, how they build things, how their history has affected their style, their food, their fashion—all of those things affect how I feel about something coming together when I come home.
History is also a big inspiration for me. The history of buildings, the history of how things were built— that’s what I find really inspiring. I also find watching people, analyzing their movement and getting inside their head, is good for inspiration. And fabric—I love looking at fabric and new textiles to inspire me.

What kind of elements do clients ask you to incorporate in designs?
Canadians tends to want their homes to reflect their happy place, as opposed to this place that they just come and go from when they’re going to work. So they tend to want bigger windows—they want their house to feel more like a vacation they’ve taken. It’s a big difference from 25 or 30 years ago, when people were content to keep whatever style came with their house. Now, people are much more educated about what they can have, like bigger windows, more textiles, tiles… they want to bring elements from places they were back with them, and incorporate them into their living space.

Is there any one question that people always come to you with about designing their home?
“How fast can you do it?” And “On what kind of budget?” Canadians are very practical; they want to know how much everything is going to cost, but they want to know that they can create a look. The questions in their mind are, “can we get this feel? Are we able to do this?” The answer is always yes, with the caveat that everything involves time and money. As long as you have the time and you have the money, we can make everything happen, but that said, you can create a look without having tons of money. You just have to be prepared to have different expectations.

Do you have a speciality in designing?

I like any kind of design, to be honest. It’s my clients who make me interested. My clients’ design makes me want to design. For example, if their lifestyle is a certain way I’ll research it and incorporate it into the design.

Are there any trends that you see a lot?
Right now people do want something more modern, but I’m not sure they even know what that really means. Basically, they want something cleaner. We’re not seeing all the grapes and the vines of yesteryear. They want things cleaner, sleeker—but they don’t want it cold. They want it warm and inviting. The question they have to ask themselves, though, is what is “warm” for you? What represents “warmth”?

Do you have any tips for someone trying to design their own house?
Number one is know what your style is. Knowing your own personal style is a really good way to get inspiration. Number two is know what your budget is, and stick to it—don’t get talked into something if you really can’t afford it. Do your research, research costs of things, and if you really need to, hire an expert. Get advice. And don’t scrimp on the things you can’t change. For instance, if you’re glueing down tiles in your house, this is the time to do it right. If you’re cheap about it, it will either fail, or come back to haunt you if you ever sell your house. You also have to be blatantly honest with yourself when designing. You have to ask yourself, “do I love all these pieces? Do I have too much stuff?” and if you do, how do you organize it? You have to be prepared to have a place for everything, and to get rid of what’s unnecessary.

Do you use Feng Shui when designing?
There are applications of it, absolutely. I always suggest a Feng Shui master when trying to incorporate it into your home. Many years ago I sat down with a Feng Shui master, and he said to me, “for you to be comfortable, your head should always be facing east, and your feet pointing to the west. I’ve never forgotten that. The few times that I’ve moved I’ve always checked that, and it has always worked out best that way for me, with my head facing east when I’m sleeping and my feet facing west. I guess that’s just a very comfortable place for me. Feng Shui worked for me, but it’s just very easy to rely on all the pop psychology that you can find anywhere and everywhere nowadays, especially with the Internet. If you believe in something like Feng Shui strongly, don’t just take advice on how to use it from anybody. Hire an expert. If you’re going to invest money into it, you need to be better equipped, because it will affect you for the rest of your life. Your home is part of your lifestyle, and certain things can affect your home lifestyle. For instance, I have been told I should always look at greenery, and that the flavour of sour is better for me, and those are things I incorporate into my life and home. Unfortunately, we treat our house like a thing, an inanimate object, like a vase, when it’s not just a thing. It’s something you connect to, psychologically and physically, and understanding all of those connections is what makes a house a home and a good space. That’s where Feng Shui to me, makes the most sense. It’s a way of saying “don’t have your home just be this thing; make it part of who you are” and make it a part of how you connect with your environment.

Besides using feng shui, are there any other adjustments homeowners can make in their own house to make it more of a home?
A good tip for homeowners is understand the atmosphere of your home, and how you connect to it. For instance, if you love the sound of running water, invest in a wall fountain. If you’re constantly hot all the time, keep your house cooler. Invest in good window covers, and make sure you can control the temperature. Darken the space so it’s less bright. These are all things you can do to change the atmosphere of your own home, and they’re all based on how you connect to your house. If your place seems loud and clanky, add softness—buy a carpet or hang drapes. If things seem kind of blah colour-wise—you’ve got too much black and white— colour can add a lot of energy to a space. If you’re feeling low, pick a colour that you love and paint one wall in it. This way, you’ll get a hit of energy every time you look at it.

Photo Courtesy of Jane Lockhard