One of the best-known names in the Dallas interior design community is Jan Showers. Her aesthetic of “glamour without pretense,” as Veranda magazine dubbed it, is sumptuous and refined, an impeccable marriage of elegance and function.
During regular trips to London, New York, Paris, and Venice, she scouts genteel antiques for her showroom in the Dallas Design District. These show up in her designs alongside pieces from her own luxury line, the Jan Showers Collection. The resulting spaces are sophisticated and dazzling, yet imminently livable and comfortable.
“I get bored with everything in a room or house being of the same period or style,” Showers said. “It is so simple to mix periods and styles—that is what my look and the antiques and vintage pieces in my showroom reflect. It comes very naturally to me.”
As New York fashion designer Michael Kors writes in the foreword of her first book, Glamorous Rooms (now in its eighth printing), “Design like Jan’s fuses great taste and an expert eye with the reality of life as it is actually lived. That’s why people are always so astonished at her glamorous touch—because it’s built into designs that are functional and comfortable and fun.”
Showers is a Hillsboro native who grew up making frequent trips to Dallas, and has always thought of Dallas as her “other” hometown.
“Dallas people love for their homes to be designed well—you cannot say that about many cities, so it’s a perfect place for someone in my profession,” she said. “We have had a home here for 40 years. I think there isn’t a better city anywhere—great for business, culture, and civic participation.”
As a girl, she wanted to be either an actress or a psychiatrist, but her family had other ideas.
“My father, being extremely practical, put a stop to that and insisted I get a business degree,” she said. “I think he saw something in me I didn’t, the entrepreneur—probably because I was a bit bossy and enjoyed being in control.”
He knew his daughter well. After graduating from Texas Christian University with that business degree, which she calls “very helpful,” Showers started designing.
“All I did after college was just that: for family and friends, even our local library,” she said. “Then a designer, who was the very Sister Parish, took me under her wing and I learned so much from her.” It wasn’t just her father who shaped her professional life. Showers calls her mother her biggest influence, a woman who “knew how to do everything the right way.”
“She had an incredible eye and knew how to put a room/house together,” Showers said. “She believed in buying the best you can buy, and she also had fabulous personal style. I had so much fun visiting with Martha Stewart recently and I told her that my mother was ‘Martha Stewart’ before Martha became ‘Martha Stewart!'”
With the business acumen and sense of style from her parents, Showers spent the 1960s and 1970s growing her clientele, forming Jan Showers Interiors in 1977 (it changed to Jan Showers & Associates in 1996).
Her Design District showroom doubled in size over 10 years. This natural entrepreneur turned her frustration at not being able to consistently find the exact home décor and furnishing she wanted for her clients into a new venture: The Jan Showers Collection, established in 1999. In just two years, seven showrooms across the country were selling the line. Today, her work is featured in showrooms in Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco.
The Jan Showers Collection offers over 150 items, with new developments coming next year.
“Our new Milan series is one of my all-time favorites, as is the ceramic lamp collection Paul Schneider is doing with us,” she said. “We are in the process of working on prototypes for 2016 and 2017 right now—all I can say is watch for some big surprises!”
Showers is also creating a collection of garden furniture for Michael Taylor Designs, inspired by French garden furniture from the 1940s and 50s. Expect to see that next year.
Plus, look for a new lifestyle collection coming out next year for Kravet Couture, something about which she’s enthusiastic.
“It will have fabrics, wall coverings, rugs, furniture, and lighting—this is something we have been working with Kravet on for over two years,” she said.Always hard-working, Showers and her team are just finishing a house in San Miguel de Allende, an apartment in New York, a ranch in the Hill Country, and a fabulous new construction in Nantucket. That’s in addition to work she’s doing on two homes in Highland Park and one in Preston Hollow.
Each home is an original, and Showers is not one for trends, but she has her favorites.
“There are a few fabrics I love that are basic—linen and silk velvets, high-quality linens and silks for drapery, wonderful mirrors, and lamps, lamps, lamps. The light they provide is what makes us all look good,” she said.
Buying trips are a source of inspiration, as well.
“There are always exciting genres of antiques/vintage that I see each time I go on buying trips to Paris, New York, London, etc.,” she said. “I’m really crazy about almost anything Italian from the late 1940s to 1960s—Gio Ponti, for instance. I’m also crazy about good ceramics.”Showers was named to the AD100 list of top design and architecture firms by Architectural Digest last year. The publication noted, “[Shower’s] up-close-and-personal approach is layered with inspiration gleaned from various sources, including…Showers’s own regular buying trips to Paris. The interiors she conceives for her elite clientele typically feature mirrored or lacquered furnishings, both vintage examples and custom-made creations from her design collection, which shows the influence of André Arbus, Jean-Maurice Rothschild, and other Art Deco icons.”
Of the award, Showers said, “It is a tremendous honor because there are so many talented designers all over the world whom I admire. To be picked as one in the top 100 is truly wonderful and, I admire Margaret Russell—have for many years. Talk about talented. I’m a frustrated editor, so I understand what she does and just how difficult that job is.”
In addition writing and editing her first book, Showers published Glamorous Retreats in 2013, a collection of her work in luxurious North American and Caribbean vacation homes. Is there temptation to publish a third? Perhaps, but don’t hold your breath.
“People seem to ask about a new book—Glamorous Rooms is in its eighth printing and Glamorous Retreats is selling well, so I don’t see another book on the horizon,” she said. “My family would not be happy if I said yes to another book project!”
For now, Showers is happy with her globetrotting and work around North America and beyond. At the end of the day, she says Dallas is home.
“It’s really wonderful—I have so many friends who are designers along with showroom owners and the people who work in those showrooms, and it’s very inclusive and when we get together—there is lots of camaraderie and fun,” she said. “I located my antiques/vintage showroom in the Dallas Design District, along with my offices, so that fellow designers could bring their clients in and shop. We have a large designer clientele from all over the U.S.”