The Secret Sauce: Our Recipe For Success

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There are so many talented interior designers out there (we really mean that), but of course we’re a little biased when it comes to Trim Design Co.  We’re not ones to toot our own horns, but as soon as we started working together, we knew we had something special going on. So today we’re getting personal and sharing how we make design magic happen in your home.  Our ‘secret sauce’ if you will.


1) We’re both former teachers.

Although we’ve both been designing our own homes (and those of friends and family) for as long as we can remember, we didn’t start our professional lives in the field of interior design.  After completing her master’s in education at Simmons College in Boston, Jen spent the next decade teaching social studies and English language arts to grades 4-8, first in the States and then overseas in Singapore and Japan.  I too, began my career in the classroom. After completing my master’s at Boston College and earning my English Language Arts and Special Education licenses, I spent six years teaching special education and English at Framingham High School.  

Jen and I agree that aside from the amazing connections made with students and coworkers, our favorite part of teaching was the process of creating lesson plans.  It offered the chance to envision and build a framework that took all of the information and synthesized it into a meaningful concept with real-world implications.  There is something so satisfying about creative work that’s both functional and intellectually or emotionally resonant. And our love for this process is what makes our background in teaching so pertinent to our interior design work.  We know first-hand, the importance solid organizational strategies play in optimizing success, both for students and in a person’s home. When your home isn’t working for you, it impacts every aspect of your day-to-day life. Our background as educators uniquely qualifies us to identify the challenges keeping you from achieving your ideal home.  We work with our clients to pinpoint exactly what it is that’s not working in their home and then we fix it with the dedication and attention to detail that only two former teachers could possibly achieve.  

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Top row, from left: A student’s portrait of Ms. Joy (Annabel) | The view of Annabel’s classroom from her desk | Annabel dressed as Holden Caulfield for Spirit Week

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Bottom row, from left: Mrs. Dulac (Jen) at her desk, Singapore American School | With several of her 7th-grade students, also at SAS

2) We’re world travelers.

Between the two of us, we’ve lived in and traveled to 30 countries, spanning every continent except Antarctica (but we’ll get there eventually!).  Experiencing this wide variety of cultures has informed our eclectic, collected aesthetic and given us a deep appreciation for traditional craftsmanship around the world.  If you spend any amount of time scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest, it can start to feel like there are only a few types of textiles or rugs out there, because you see the same styles over and over again.  Through our travels, we have encountered so many different materials, textiles, and adornments (ever heard of Ghanaian kente cloth, Indonesian pahikung, or Moroccan boucherouite?). We love to incorporate these into our designs to create sophisticated spaces that are truly one-of-a-kind.  We create spaces for our clients that set the trends instead of following them.

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Top row, from left: Annabel rides a camel in Axum, Ethiopia | A handweaver at work in Barrydale, South Africa | Middle row, from left: Colorful baskets at a market in Mekele, Ethiopia | Jen, on the hunt for Ming treasures at Beijing’s Dirt Market | Bottom row, from left: Browsing through vintage goods a shrine sale, Tokyo  | Traditional textiles for sale near Chiang Mai, Thailand

3) We represent two generations.

Maybe the most surprising thing about our partnership is the fact that we’re a duo from two different generations.  Jen is Gen X; I’m a millennial. At first glance, this might seem like it could present a challenge for our collaboration, but we’ve found it to be our greatest strength.  Generational stereotypes are often exaggerated and used to make some pretty silly arguments, but in many cases these generalizations do have some level of truth to them. Our generational differences have helped us find that sweet spot between risk and caution, pragmatism and idealism.  Most importantly, we’ve pushed each other forward creatively and together have developed a cohesive and focused point of view for our designs that’s neither too trendy nor too traditional.

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4) We love us some vintage!

We include vintage pieces in every one of our designs, intentionally blending the old with the new to create homes that are truly one-of-a-kind.  Vintage pieces have history and patina; they have a powerful effect on the feel of a space. We incorporate vintage pieces in order to give you a home that tells your story; a home that’s personal, eclectic, and collected.  And one of our favorites parts of designing is the chance to do some upcycling--breathing new life into pieces that otherwise might find their way into a dump. There can be a lot of life left in older pieces, and the craftsmanship can be (and usually is) far superior to new makes.

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Top row, from left: Brass candlesticks from Thailand, one has been converted into a floor lamp. | A vintage Anglo-Indian tea table Jen spotted covered in cobwebs at an estate sale and a bergere chair she found at a church rummage sale and later reupholstered in a fun, bold print | A pair of mid-century barrel-back chairs and a set of vintage acrylic nesting tables make up some of Jen’s top estate sale scores. Bottom row, from left: A vintage oushak rug from Turkey anchors this contemporary lucite console desk, accessorized with a leather goatskin ottoman from Morocco, and a lidded senegalese basket. | A flat-top trunk from the late 1800s sites behind a Chinese jardiniere on a rosewood stand.

5) We source the uncommon to set your home apart.

Have you ever paged through one of those furniture and home decor catalogues (we won’t name names, but you know the sort we mean) that come in the mail and thought, “This stuff is nice individually, but all together it’s so matchy-matchy! It looks like a picture from a chain hotel!”?  We believe you deserve a home that reflects you as an individual, not one that looks like it came from a cookie-cutter. Whenever possible, we source from individual artisans and emerging brands so that your home will never look like a catalogue! And as two women who decided to start their own company, we also love the chance to support other small-business entrepreneurs like ourselves.  Community is central to our philosophy and mission. Sourcing from small and local makers is one of the ways that our designs reflect those core values.

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From left: A bespoke walnut and cherry side table made using traditional joinery methods in Amenia, North Dakota, by Bryan Cramer and handmade macrame pillow shams from Etsy shop Homesunshine. | A modern take on traditional shaker stools handmade  in Bethel, Maine by S. Timberlake. | A turquoise bracelet flask by Annie Hanks Ceramic Studio in Chattanooga, Tennessee, sits on a shelf above a linen dish towel, screen-printed by hand, from Savannah Hayes.

All photos property of Trim Design Co. LLC