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Jake Arnold Says This Overlooked Dynamic Makes a Room Successful

Words by Gabrielle Savoie
a bedroom with a bed, chairs, and a window

Bedroom designed by Jake Arnold featuring a Woven rug. Photographed by Michael Clifford.

For Jake Arnold, decorating a room is a bit like piecing a puzzle together.

The AD100 interior designer and The Expert co-founder, whose signature style seduced the biggest stars, from Katy Perry to John Legend, has an approach to design that plays on tensions: between laid-back and tailored, vintage and new, angular and curvy, plush and rustic, monolithic and delicate…

“A lot of people like to mix styles,” Jake says, “But when there’s no boundaries, it can get complicated.” That lack of structure is what he set out to solve with the launch of The Expert Showroom. “It’s really exciting because for the first time you can really shop based on your favorite designer.”

His own curation, which features over 100 of his favorite products, from slipcovered linen sofas to lush mohair rugs, delicate wrought-iron tables, and contemporary plaster lighting (even his top go-to fabrics by the yard) will transport you into his dream world of moody hues, rich textures, and timeless lines.

Here, he lets us into his design process to make your decorating journey even more foolproof…

Introducing: Jake Arnold's Showroom

a man sitting in a chair in front of a book shelf

What makes a room feel cozy:

The biggest thing is being really specific with textures and materials. Having a rug that fits all your furniture on it grounds the whole space and creates a lived-in feel. I also love adding rounded furniture, objects that feel less sharp, and pieces with organic silhouettes to soften everything up.

How I mix colors:

I love using one brighter hue as the high-impact accent on the legs of a side table, a floor lamp, or anything that's not a prominent piece. I like to use color in a way that you can evolve with without having to commit to a huge piece that you’ll ultimately end up having to replace or recover.

My secret for a well-layered room:

Ironically, less is more. Especially when it comes to decorative pillows, I like to be more edited. But I love a really amazing oversized throw that has a beautiful texture and color. Every room needs a mix of textures: brass, wicker, mohair…

a brown rug on a white background
WovenTextured Mohair RugSHOP NOW
a pink chair sitting on top of a wooden floor
The Expert VintageDanish Cabinetmaker Armchair, 1940sSHOP NOW
a picture of a sun and a snake on a white background
Saved NYSolar ThrowSHOP NOW

How I lay out a room:

I determine how a space is going to be used first, and then I think about silhouettes, shapes, and layouts depending on how the room should be oriented. Is it towards a TV, a fireplace—what is the focal point? Then, I'll make sure there's a mix of different shapes. I like to play with shapes that feel really relaxed, like a slipcovered sofa, and pair that with tailored chairs. Mixing the buttoned-up look with the undone feel is always part of my process.

What anchors a space:

I'm very big on comfort more than anything. I like the larger pieces in a room to be really luxe, plush, and comfortable. I would rather pick a less stylized sofa that’s extremely comfortable and that you’d actually want to hang out and relax on, and use accent chairs, lamps, side tables, and coffee tables to introduce more personality.

a brown couch sitting on top of a wooden floor
The Expert CollectionClassic Curved SofaSHOP NOW
a chair with a wooden armrest and a sheepskin seat
The Expert VintageDanish Sheepskin ArmchairSHOP NOW
a couch with a lot of pillows on it
The Expert CollectionSignature Slip SofaSHOP NOW

What I’m recommending to clients right now:

My biggest thing, especially when it comes to remodels and construction, is trying to move away from overhead lighting unless it’s a decorative fixture because it changes everything. I prefer table lamps and sconces that bring the lighting down in a room. You could live in a really small, understated space but if you get the lighting right, it can have a lot of depth.

The key to lighting a room:

Under lighting is better than over lighting in my opinion. Every corner of a room should be illuminated to create depth. I'm all about shadowing. Instead of pot lights, I’ve been using pin lighting to wash walls. At night, it just washes a coffee table or a console but everything else around it is dark. I really like that approach to lighting.

a mushroom shaped lamp is shown against a white background
CeramicahTera LampSHOP NOW
a couple of lights that are on a wall
Troy LightingAubrey SconceSHOP NOW

My living room rules:

What people get wrong all the time is forgetting about function. More than anything, I really care about how things feel. Seat height is everything because there's nothing worse to me than someone sinking into a sofa and the person next to them being super high up on a chair. It’s important to be cognizant about proportions, scale, and the amount of lounging you want to do in the space—is it a family room and you want a really loungey 42-inch deep sofa that you can really relax and recline on or is it a more formal library that requires a more tailored 36-inch deep sofa?

I always buy this vintage:

I love layering rooms with vintage side tables, accent chairs, lighting, and rugs. It’s a great way to offset newer pieces and give a room soul.

a wooden chair with a woven seat
The Expert VintageDanish Seagrass ChairSHOP NOW
an antique rug with a diamond pattern on a white background
District LoomHathaway Antique Shiraz RugSHOP NOW
a desk lamp sitting on top of a wooden table
The Expert VintagePresident' Table Lamp by Christian DellSHOP NOW