Jan Showers has a thing for understated luxury. Her signature blend of smartly tailored spaces dotted with antiques, mirrored surfaces, and curvy Murano glass populate her freshman tome, Glamorous Rooms, currently in its fifth printing. For her second book, Glamorous Retreats, out in October, she hit the road to catalog the cadre of vacation homes she has designed for clients. We chatted with Showers about the new book and her approach to designing second homes.
D Home: The interiors in Glamorous Retreats range from a seaside cottage to a luxe pied-à-terre, but the spaces all look rooted in relaxation. How does location affect the design?
Jan Showers: We kick off the design process by looking at how the client’s family will use and enjoy the house. For example, a beach house requires washable fabrics and easily cleaned rugs with lighter colors, while the design of a ski lodge would be completely different. That said, one of the most interesting things about the book is the range of designs featured. For instance, the Toronto project is all about creating a space for the client’s art collection as well as a place for lots of guests to stay. So in this case, the location of the project had almost nothing to do with the design, while the Nantucket project was about creating a cozy family getaway for my clients that was heavily inspired by the colors of the ocean.
DH: Do you employ different rules for second residences?
JS: People want to have more fun in designing a second or third home. They take more chances. But I don’t employ different rules for vacation homes. Besides always including eye-level lighting and a table by every chair, I dislike rules, as they make for boring projects—break them every time you can!
DH: You spent a year traveling to each of the locales to photograph the homes in the book. What were some standout memories from your yearlong journey?
JS: I have lots of memories of Jeff McNamara, the amazing photographer for the book, jumping out of the car with my husband, Jim, to get a great locale shot. There were also lots of great dinners with my clients and my team after a long day’s shoot. They were all so wonderful to allow us into their homes and then would entertain us at night.
DH: Do you have your own glamorous retreat?
JS: Yes, we have owned it since 1970. It’s a great pre-war colonial an hour outside Dallas designed by a well-known Dallas architect of that period. The house is on several acres with tennis courts and a pool and gardens. Our family gathers there for important holidays and occasions. It is relaxing and glamorous—a real glamorous retreat!