J. Allen hails from Los Angeles, but crossed the continent in 1997 to attend Howard University. 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 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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