Curtain Call

Lindsay Jaccom took on her first
decorating project at age 10

by Janet Essman Franz

LindJay0022Lindsay Jaccom, the owner of Lindsay Jay DESIGNS in Williston, practices what she teaches. Her love of bold colors in small spaces can be seen in the deep blue walls of her office, complemented by bright white fixtures.

As early as age 10, Lindsay Jaccom had a creative streak and a keen eye for color and scale. It was then, in her childhood bedroom in Scarsdale, N.Y., that she began varying wall colors, fabrics, and furniture placement to change the room’s look and feel. A decade and a half later, she is doing the same for her clients in Vermont.

Jaccom owns Lindsay Jay DESIGNS, a residential interior design company. Working out of her home office in Williston, she provides homeowners with conceptual plans, recommendations for materials and colors, and installation of furnishings and fixtures. She also designs textiles. “Everything I do is custom — anything involving fabric in the home,” she says.

Jaccom, 27, came to Vermont to attend the University of Vermont in 2002. The state was her top choice because of its atmosphere.

“I fell in love with Burlington and Vermont, how friendly people were, their tendency for the outdoors. It was very different from where I grew up,” Jaccom says. “There’s more diversity here in terms of attitudes, ideas, and how people think.”

Jaccom’s parents were more practical than artistic, she says. Her father is a commercial real estate broker in Manhattan, and her mom stayed home to raise Jaccom and her younger sister, Brooke. The family’s home decor was based on function over aesthetics. A family friend who is an interior designer with an elaborately decorated house inspired Jaccom’s creative side. “I would go to her home and admire the walls and window treatments,” Jaccom says.

In high school Jaccom delved into art and painting, creating abstract works on her bedroom walls. “My parents gave me free reign over my space,” she says. “I was constantly changing things, moving the bed to get a new point of view, rearranging furniture to change the energy of the room. I once wrapping-papered a wall.”

She has also used herself as a canvas. “From 13 through high school, my hair was a million different colors — red, blue, green, black — I was really free about things like that.”

At UVM she majored in studio art with a minor in psychology. That’s where she met John Parnagian, a business major who lived in her dormitory. In her third year of college, she realized that her calling was interior design, but there was no such program at UVM.

After graduating in 2006, she spent three weeks in France studying the interiors and architecture of Paris with the Parsons School of Design. Then she and Parnagian moved to Mamaroneck, N.Y., so she could attend the Parsons School of Design in Manhattan. She earned a two-year degree in interior design, graduating with honors in January 2009.

While attending Parsons, she worked for MH Studio, a residential design firm in New York City, where she gained experience in design firm operations, from creating color stories to installations to billing. The projects were ornate and extravagant. “We were doing $11 million apartments with $20,000 window treatments. It was fantasy land,” she says.

Jaccom and Parnagian planned all along to return to Vermont. While in New York they purchased their condominium in Williston and moved in spring 2009. The condo was a ready canvas for Jaccom’s designs.

“I was so glad to have a space to express myself,” she says. She painted her office walls deep blue and complemented them with bright white shelving, a white lacquered Parsons desk, and black and white rug. In the living room, she used her grandmother’s lemon yellow 1950s-era armoire as a focal point, repeating the yellow theme in pillows and accents to connect the eye. For the TV room and adjoining bathroom she chose navy blue with accents of black and gold. “In small spaces I love to do bold colors.”

Once settled into Vermont, Jaccom and Parnagian each started a business. Parnagian’s company, Custom Home Services of Northern Vermont, provides home improvement services such as flooring, painting, and interior repairs. Jaccom avails herself of Parnagian’s skills and talents for her work.

“He does all my installations — hanging artwork, window treatments, flooring,” she says. “I bounce ideas off of him. The designer wants to do everything, and he tells me what’s possible.”

Although 2009 presented a tough economy in which to start a new venture, Jaccom was confident.

“I was really gung ho and ready to get going. Everyone has a home, and in the winter here people are inside for five months. They want to do something with their space,” she says.

She coined the company name, Lindsay Jay DESIGNS, as a play on her name. Since launching she has enjoyed steady growth, doing work for seven families. Jaccom places a high importance on networking. She meets with other design professionals, has joined Women Business Owners Network, attends home shows, and interacts with people at places she frequents. She picked up several clients at Jazzercise Fitness Center in Williston, where she exercises and trades part time in the child-care room for classes. That’s where she connected with Cayce Ludwar, owner of the fitness center.

With three sons under age 6, Ludwar wanted her South Burlington condominium to be more functional and attractive. “I was spending too much time cleaning the carpet — it wasn’t practical,” says Ludwar. “Lindsay did my whole flooring concept and took care of all the little details from start to finish. She’s very detail oriented.”

Jaccom swapped carpets for hardwood and changed countertops, cabinet knobs, wall tile, and ceiling fans. She installed cubbies in the dining room to store toys and created a family portrait area for a focal point. The result was exactly what Ludwar desired — a home that is sensible and good-looking. Ludwar appreciates that Jaccom found cost-efficient ways to solve problems.

“She’s really conscientious about budgets,” Ludwar says. “When people think of working with a designer, they think it will be expensive. If you give Lindsay a budget, she will find materials that work with your finances and make it look new with paint color and pillows so you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars.”

Jaccom prides herself on being able to find items that fit the bill. She shops for clients at Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Target, as well as from specialized designer suppliers. “Whatever your budget, I can find stuff,” she says. “I have access to trade resources where only designers can purchase. I get a designer discount on furniture, fabric, wallpaper, and lighting, which I pass on to my clients.”

Jaccom creates her own marketing materials, including graphic design, Web page content, and photography. “I learned how to do this in art school at UVM,” she says. In addition to her company website, she uses social networking sites to promote her services. About 150 people follow her on Facebook.

“I try to stay current with Facebook, posting links to designers; new trends. I post my projects and get feedback.”

Michelle Shapiro found the Lindsay Jay DESIGNS Facebook page when she searched the Internet for an interior designer. She needed help renovating the first floor of the South Burlington town house she shares with her husband, Mort. Jaccom’s site caught her eye.

“Lindsay has a lot of fresh ideas and I felt she could bring a lot of energy to the project,” Shapiro says. “The space wasn’t very warm, and she was challenged with the job of turning it into a warm, homey atmosphere. We told her our style, and she used existing pieces and helped us purchase upholstery, rugs, and wallpaper. She gave us a complete look. Now it’s pretty wonderful and I love it.”

Jaccom enjoys creating her own fabrics from silk screens. She rolls the fabrics on bolts to show clients and posts photos of the cloth on Facebook. She recently received an email from an actress in Manhattan who liked her fabric and hired Jaccom to make a pillow for her bed. In the future, she hopes to have a retail store selling her own fabrics and furniture.

Her work can be difficult and tedious at times, she admits. “People say, ‘Oh, your job must be so fun.’ Well, the beginning is fun, when you make decisions and pick colors and fabrics. The end is fun when you see the result. But the middle is not so fun — doing installations, waiting for deliveries, when they deliver it broken, or you promise a client something and it’s discontinued.”

Away from work she and Parnagian enjoy hiking and camping, and in winter she takes advantage of midweek skiing’s lighter crowds. “One nice thing about owning a business is that I can do work on the weekend and ski midweek.” They also spend time training their beagle puppy, Lazarus.

Even when she’s not working, she’s thinking about designs and sourcing materials, trying to stay on top of new trends, such as this summer’s sharp greens and geometric prints. She totes her camera everywhere to photograph things that inspire her, and she keeps a folder of ideas.

“I own my own business but I’m an artist in my field, and that’s what people hire me for. A lot of my work is done in my head,” she says.

Exchanging ideas with other professionals keeps her fresh and connected. “I stay in touch with other designers. When I have a fabric rep here I invite them to meet and see what he has,” she says. “I want there to be a great design community here.” •