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For over 30 years, Jan Showers has been one of the preeminent names in the design industry, including a place on the AD100, publication of three gorgeous books of her work, and features in every major magazine there is. But she’s also made an incredible mark in her immediate community, as the chair of the Dallas Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse and through her showroom, where she imports some of the best Parisian antiques to Texas. For decades, she’s been a pioneer in the vintage and antiques scene in Dallas, and her knowledge and love for meaningful pieces has been an asset to clients and fellow designers alike.

We spoke with Jan about her love of French design, her passion for antiques, and all her favorite finds across the globe. See what she had to say below, and be sure to shop her striking curation of hand-selected vintage favorites along with her collection of products available on Chairish.

Jan Showers
Jan Showers. Photo: Justin Clemons.

First and foremost, how would you describe your personal design aesthetic?

I love to create rooms that will last and never look dated. I combine antiques and vintage pieces with newly made items and always choose paints and wallpapers that are not “trendy” to have a timeless appeal.  

You frequently source from Paris to populate your Dallas showroom. How has French design influenced your style? 

I honestly do not feel that my aesthetic would exist the way it does without my trips to Paris. I’m inspired while walking through the Tuileries and past the Palais-Royal; I love to stop for hot chocolate when the weather is cold and dine in places like La Fontaine, Le Voltaire, and the terrace at the Hotel Côstes. And of course shopping on the Left Bank and at Le Marché aux Puces is at the top of my list. Each of these has influenced my style and continues to do so.

You have been living in the same home for almost 50 years and have redecorated it several times. Tell us about the process and what you love and dislike-about it. 

There is actually nothing that I dislike about it! I do love finding new chairs for my living room and library; my husband says we have “revolving chairs.” I have maintained the same colors in my living room and dining room—and really throughout my house—for at least 25 of those 50 years, and I never tire of them.

From the Dallas Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse; design by Jan Showers. Photo: Stephen Karlisch.

Tell us about your experience co-chairing for the Dallas Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse. What was your favorite part? 

I love finding the best designers to participate and then helping to decide where everyone will do their best work. And of course I love opening day, when I get to see how much all the visitors love the house!

There’s a certain timelessness to your design work. Do you ever take part in any trends that are happening? Are there any right now that you’re loving?

I truly try to avoid trends. That said, I can get into my own ideas of “trends” when I’m buying in Paris. For instance, I’ve always loved fine bamboo pieces, whether real or faux. That’s certainly a trend now, though I’ve always loved it, particularly in a formal living room.

You are known for your love of antiques. How do you strike the balance between vintage and antiques pieces versus incorporating more contemporary items into your designs? 

I do love well designed modern pieces, particularly dining chairs from John Boone—as well as my own designs, of course. Upholstered furniture is always more comfortable, and I enjoy designing and manufacturing pieces for my clients. I also love contemporary art, which makes for a perfect combination when blended with the right mix of vintage and new finds.

Jan Showers
Photo: Stephen Karlisch

On Chairish & Vintage Shopping…

What do you find most compelling about Chairish? 

I find Chairish very accessible, and have found so many great pieces in all price ranges. It’s easy to navigate, and oftentimes I personally know the dealers I’m working with, which makes it even easier.

How does sustainability factor into your design choices and love of vintage

What’s better than sustainable shopping? Since I love antiques and vintage pieces anyway, there’s no better reason to use them. They help to create rooms that are completely unique—no one wants their home to look like a big box store, after all. I’ve never wanted anything I do to look like someone else’s work, and using vintage and antique finds helps to accomplish that.

Are there any dream vintage/antique “gets” you wish you could have? What’s a dream piece for you?

I would love to have a pair of Serge Roche’s Palm Torcheres.

Jan Showers
Photo: Kate Martin

Some Design Favorites…

Favorite way to create a statement-making moment in a room: 

Wallpaper or lacquered paint

Favorite decorating “cheap thrill:” 

Mirrors

Favorite iconic piece of vintage design: 

Wonderful vintage Murano lamps and chandeliers

Favorite paint color: 

I have two: Donald Kaufman #20 (a wonderful yellow gold) and Benjamin Moore’s Wythe Blue.

Favorite piece of decor in your home: 

How can I choose? Probably a pair of Andre Arbus commodes in the living room of our country house.

Jan Showers
Photo: Stephen Karlisch

Favorite designer or artist from the past you most often turn to for inspiration: 

So many… Albert Hadley, Billy Baldwin, Frances Elkins, Elsie de Wolfe, Syrie Maugham

Favorite style icon: 

I love 70’s fashion. I would pick Jackie Onassis from the 70’s, as well as Lee Radziwill, Audrey Hepburn, and Halston.

Design destination every creative should visit at least once: 

Paris, New York, and London

Best piece of career advice you’ve ever received: 

In the antiques business, “Don’t buy anything you don’t love—you will never sell it.” In the design business, “Interview your potential clients at length. Get to know as much about them as possible.”

Photo: Jeff McNamara

Some Lifestyle Favorites…

Favorite vacation destination: 

St. Barth’s

Favorite hotel that’s inspired your work while traveling: 

Villa d’Este

Favorite restaurant: 

Al Veluu, Lake Como, Tremezzo

Favorite small museum: 

Jeu de Paume

Favorite podcast:

I love Fresh Air With Terry Gross and The Business of Home podcast with Dennis Scully.

Favorite Instagram accounts to follow: 

@GaryJanetti, @DavidNettoSays, @AlexsViewpoint; @MrMitchOwens; @TheDogist; @MarkDSikes… all for different reasons! I love to laugh, love satire, love great decorating, love to learn, love dogs, love joy, love beauty… 

Photo: Jeff McNamara

Favorite hostess (or thank you) gift: 

Pretty cocktail napkins

Favorite flower: 

It’s too hard to choose… dahlias, lilies of the valley… this is like picking your favorite child. No way!

Favorite adult beverage:

A vodka martini with the glass washed with vermouth, shaken (hard), not stirred, with two olives. In the summer, I love a vodka gimlet (but not too sweet).

Favorite way to unwind at home: 

Watch a great British TV series or a wonderful movie on Turner Classic Movies.

Favorite entertaining essential: 

A fire in the fireplace, even if we have to turn the A/C down. What is more welcoming?

Lead image by Stephen Karlisch

December 7, 2022

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