Designer Jessica McClendon has a knack for making things seem larger than life. Her 1000 square foot apartment (built in the 1950s) might not be overly spacious or ornate, but the sunny home is expertly filled with color, pattern, and pieces that might be reserved for bigger houses. For example, the elaborate mantle was a junky $50 find that she refinished. On the wall hangs a carved wood fallow deer head from Germany, an item that took jumping through a few hoops to get it safely back to California. To say she has a commitment to her aesthetic would be an understatement!

As the founder of the Glamour Nest, Jess is all about bringing “casual glamour” into the everyday. This approachable outlook is top of mind as she works with her clients, infusing simple moments and spaces with luxury — and destroying the “look, but don’t touch” mentality along the way. Read on to learn more:

Hi Jess! What was your inspiration when decorating your space?
It may sound surprising but I didn’t go in with a specific vision for the space. As a designer — and I’m sure others feel the same way — my crazy eclectic tastes and the fact I’m always discovering new favorite things makes it difficult to narrow down a singular approach when designing for myself. Rather, it’s been a journey of collecting, inheriting, reclaiming and designing pieces that I love. You can see a lot of Art Deco, Hollywood Regency, and Mid-Century modern throughout the space. They are some of my favorite styles to pull from and naturally vibe with my soul. But, in the end, I feel the process of accumulating and refining has actually turned the space into something that truly reflects me and the different experiences I’ve had. You can usually point to an item and there will be a funny story that goes along with it.

You describe your aesthetic as “casual glamour.” What does that mean to you?
A lot of people tend to associate glamour with only high-end, expensive things that have a “look but don’t touch” quality. But the actual definition of glamour is: the attractive or exciting quality that makes certain people or things seem appealing or special. Part of my design philosophy is to redefine the idea that glamour is unapproachable. Casual glamour is all about creating spaces that are beautiful and special BUT not stuffy or superficial. I want people to feel welcome and comfortable. I love fancy things but I wouldn’t call myself a “fancy” person. I love luxurious dinnerware and a gorgeous table setting but could care less about using the proper fork. That’s not to say that manners aren’t important. My mother would pop me in the back of the head if I didn’t hold the door open for the person behind me… but for me, manners are more about being kind and respectful and less about rigid rules. When you go to the trouble to make a space beautiful and inviting, you are showing the people in your life that they are special and worth the extra effort.

You first studied theatre. How did this help you transition to interior design?
Theatre and acting is more than memorizing lines and performing; it’s about listening and exploring the human condition. With theatre, I basically studied how to dig deep into why we say what we say, why we fear what we fear, how our past affects the way we see the world, and how to understand intentions behind our choices. Then, communicate all that with an audience. Turns out, that translates perfectly to interior design. Those skills have helped me be able to listen to my clients needs and allowed me to put myself in their shoes. Many times clients don’t know how to articulate what they want, so it’s also taught me how to ask the right questions to discover their needs. The end goal is always to create spaces that are more than just pretty; I want them to support my clients’ lives and reflect who they are on every level.

You also are on the board with The Book Truck. Tell us about this organization!
It’s awesome for so many reasons! The Book Truck is a Los Angeles-based modern bookmobile/pop-up Book Store that provides free books to underserved teens. It’s all about spending one-on-one time with them to help find the gateway books that will inspire them to become life long readers. Not only was this organization started by my best friend, it’s also a subject that’s near and dear to my heart.  I grew up in similar situation as many of the teens we work with, so it’s a great opportunity to give encouragement and share my own passion for reading.

What’s next for Glamour Nest?
That’s the million-dollar question! In addition to working with my lovely clients, I have had a lot of opportunities come my way to serve more people. One of the projects I am most excited about is launching an online design workshop. People seem to really respond to my “casually glamourous” approach and my step-by-step procedure to understanding their needs, so this class is aimed at making it even more accessible, no matter where you live. The goal is to benefit both, people who have project but might not have the budget to work with a designer, and people who will be working with a professional designer, but want to be prepared so they can communicate effectively.

The designer takes us on a tour of her Sherman Oaks home in the slideshow!