Jan Showers’s new book, “Glamorous Living,” is a reminder of why our home interiors are so important. Done well, they can energize us or comfort us on any given day. They can unite families and provide a perfect footprint for great parties, large and small.
Showers is a rock star in the Dallas design world, though she started her firm later than most, waiting until her children were grown. She’d been helping friends with home-decorating projects when in the mid-1980s she realized she could be busy enough to have a full-time job.
Her design firm — Jan Showers and Associates — expanded in 1995 to include a showroom for antiques. A few years later she launched her own furniture collection, the Jan Showers Collection, which has been sold across the country for nearly 20 years.
“Glamorous Living” (Abrams; 224 pp.; $65) is Showers’s third book, following “Glamorous Rooms” in 2009 and “Glamorous Retreats” in 2013.
Near the front of the book, Showers shares photographs from her own life, vacationing with her husband of many years, attorney Jim Showers, and their two daughters, Elizabeth Showers, who lives in Fort Worth, and Susanna Moldawer, who now lives in Houston and is a married mother of three. In every photo, Showers looks stylish, whether she’s on the beach, on the ski slopes or posed with her children in a field of bluebonnets.
By Jan Showers
224 pages, $65
The contents of the book represent rooms from 20 homes, including one in Houston, plus Austin, Dallas, London, New York, Tulsa and Phoenix. You’ll see her own two homes — an elegant country home in her hometown, Hillsboro, and a sophisticated townhome in Dallas — in portraits of the author at the start of each chapter.
The Houston Chronicle recently spoke with Showers about her new book, great design and what glamour really is.
Q: What prompted you to write this book now?
A: I had promised my husband that I would not do a third book. But I had just done so many pretty projects in the last five years, and I thought, “I just have to do it.” I had 200 images. I told my husband “I really have to do this.” I talked him into it. … This year, with COVID-19, we’re doing everything virtually, and my website is set up to be transactional. If you order the book from my website you’ll get a signed book; a book ordered from amazon.com won’t be signed.
Q: What elements or overall design touches do you think bring glamour to a room?
A: It’s not about satin, glitz or glitter — that kind of thing, not at all. There’s a line in the book’s introduction that talks about style and grace and environments that are relaxed and inviting and comfortable. That’s what glamour is to me.
Q: Who or what inspires your style?
A: My mother had the most influence on me of anyone. Also her mother, who loved French things. My grandmother had a great love of glass. I’m known for the Murano lighting and glass that I carry. They bring something special to a room. I like vintage lamps, but I restyle them because they usually have hideous bases and shades.
My mother was a perfectionist. She was Martha Stewart before there was a Martha Stewart. She knew everything about entertaining; she was the ultimate homemaker. She particularly loved clothes and interior design … and she schooled me.
Q: You shop for antiques in France and travel overseas often. How does that influence your designs?
A: I have learned a lot from travel, going to museums, being exposed to art and shopping for antiques. Then, fortunately, having friends in Paris and London and going to their houses and seeing how they live there — it’s so different. There’s a lot of European design in my style.
European design is looser, not as studied, not as decorated looking. They hang pictures on bookcases, things Americans don’t tend to do but I’ve always liked doing.
Q: What is your favorite thing to shop for or decorate with?
A: Everybody thinks of me with lamps. I do adore vintage lamps. I’m crazy about Marbro lamps right now. I can’t get enough of them. They’re all hand painted; some are Murano glass.
I love chandeliers. I like lighting — period. There are so many companies doing new lamps. I adore furniture, too. I always have a lot of special coffee tables; they are so much fun. And I love accessories of all kinds. I’m crazy about ceramics, and I’m buying as many ceramics accessories as I can. I hope I can get back to France soon.
Q: You use a lot of antiques. It was not that long ago that everyone declared that antiques were “dead.” Now I’m seeing lots of them; are your clients embracing them?
A: What I think is happening is that we went through a whole period of people, younger people, not understanding antiques at all. They didn’t understand that antiques give a room character. You need at least one or two in every room. I like vintage everything, vintage frames, things that are one of a kind. My young clients want antiques and love vintage lighting.
Q: I’m seeing a return to color and pattern — though some designers have always loved it. Do you get excited when clients want color instead of a home full of pale neutrals?
A: The house that’s on the cover of the book has tons of color and prints. Its library is on the cover. It’s the seventh project I’ve done with them. We used the Brunschwig & Fils print, Lodi Garden.
A house we’re doing in Lake Forest (in Dallas) will be the star of my next book. We’re using a lot of prints, and the house calls for it. It’s an English-country-style house.
Q: You are a co-chair of the
inaugural Kips Bay Decorator Show House
, and you decorated the study. Tell me about that experience.
A: I was determined that we would have really good designers from every major Texas city, and they are all good. That house is so well done. It was a good house to begin with, but it needed redoing.
My room is the study, and I have a Karl Springer 1970s parchment goatskin desk, an 18th-century German chandelier that’s in perfect condition and another beautiful 18th-century piece I’m using as a display table. I used a mid-20th-century coffee table, an Italian chair from my collection and totally contemporary art. It’s a very curated look.