J. Allen hails from Los Angeles, â€¨but crossed the continent in 1997 to attend Howard University. â€¨She never went back. “I liked the pace of living here,” she says. Most of all, however, it was the city’s history and the architecture that fascinated her. As â€¨she explains it, “We don’t have much of that in L.A.!”
Amid pressure from her parents to pursue a law school track, Allen began taking electives in design. She knew right away this was what she wanted, but it took her parents a little longer to get on board. When she’d finished school with a major in political science and a minor in interior design, they cut a deal: Allen would take a year “to see if she could get work” as an interior designer.
“I’ve been doing it ever since,” she says. It wasn’t always easy; her first job was the overhaul of a basement condo unit for a single mom with a total budget of $3,000. “I was willing to take anything,” Allen recalls. “It required me to be creative!”
Today, Allen’s projects run the gamut from a classic Kalorama Colonial to a sleek Reston condo. She also appeared in season six of HGTV’s “Design Star.”
Despite her success, Allen remains an equal opportunity designer. “I believe everyone should have access to a great space to live in, no matter what their budget,” she explains.
In any price range, Allen stresses the importance of “getting creative.” For example, on a recent project she grouped magnolia-shaped plates from Arhaus Furniture on the walls to create eye-catching, decorative art. “Sometimes,” she says, “you have to think outside the box.”
INTERIOR DESIGN: J.ALLEN, Perceptions Interiors, LLC, Washington, DC.
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