Jessica Holmes Holiday founded her firm, HSH Designs, as a way to share her passion for design with others. For every project, Holiday makes it her mission to connect with her clients and deliver a design that turns their house into a home.
We sat down with Jessica for an exclusive Designer Q&A to gain insight on how she works with her clientele — as well as other members of their design-build team — to create unforgettable spaces with local flair.
H&D: Tell us what it was like to grow up on Anna Maria Island and how you decided to get into interior design.
Holiday: Growing up on Anna Maria was a dream. It is such a special place on this planet and something you really do not fully understand until you have grown up and seen the world. I got interested in design growing up with my family in the construction business and both my grandfather and great grandfather were developers. Being on job sites from a young age has helped me understand how the end result of interior design begins with a solid construction foundation. My aunt is an interior designer and I thought her job seemed so interesting. My grandmother used to come over and sew new pillows and throw them on our sofa for a “freshen up,” as she would call it. I was hooked with how such a small detail could completely transform the look of our old sofa.
H&D: We know Anna Maria Island is a highly sought-after vacation destination. Will you share insight into how you work with clients who are building and designing a vacation home?
Holiday: The vacation home has always been a part of the island. These clients all want what we (locals) live: easy lifestyle, low maintenance, with a light, coastal feel. Obviously, the styles have changed over the years and the idea of a vacation home has elevated a bit. Most clientele are looking for a home that functions for when their grown children visit with their families and when they entertain, as well as for when it is just the two of them. I love how the architect and builder designed this home with such a great open floor plan. In this specific house, there is an upstairs TV nook that opens up to the master. This space can feel like one completely open room or two divided spaces — perfect when additional family is here! I always focus on neutral performance fabrics for the main upholstered items and I love adding pops of color in accents. This family really loves color, so we were able to have a ton of fun. In this house, along with most of the vacation homes, the design focus is the on view and the outdoor spaces. Making sure the outdoor furniture is just as important as the indoor pieces is a huge focus for me. I like spaces to feel curated, and by mixing several different styles of outdoor furniture you get the sense that it is just an extension of the interior.
H&D: How do you help your clientele visualize what a finished space will look like?
Holiday: My client’s personality always drives the design, first for function and then for form. When it comes to helping them visualize the space, I send a mood board to my clients so we have a visual way of communicating. This works especially well with long-distance clients! From there I put together a presentation that can be emailed or send actual samples to them for us to have a virtual meeting. I walk them through the space and explain how the flow and the progression of the design will work. I actually offer virtual design as an option for clientele living out of state as well. Sometimes I have a piece of art or a fabric that just sets the “vibe.” In this house’s case, the tiles in all the bathrooms really drove the look and how we balanced it with soft, textured pieces to offset the vibrant tiles.
H&D: Why is it important to have strong relationships with the other members of a home’s building and design team?
Holiday: I feel a strong team is what makes the project run smoothly and gives the very best result to the client’s home. After all, we are creating a space for them to share with their family and friends. I love working with builder Jake Martin as he is extremely talented and has an impeccable eye for design. The architect on this home always goes above and beyond to make sure every detail is considered — the attention to exterior detail is what sets their homes apart. I feel lucky to be able to work around such talent, especially local professionals. Coming from a family of developers and contractors, I have the utmost respect for what these guys do. I can put together a pretty picture but if the rest of the team isn’t strong then that picture does not come to life. My job is to give the client the home of their dreams, but also to make the building process easy for the contractor by staying ahead of them with selections and making sure they have all the information ahead of time. It helps that I love what I do!
H&D: What do you think are the most important pieces for your clientele to invest in?
Holiday: First, I always say to put your money into the hard surfaces: wood flooring, fantastic tile, etc. Then put your money into the bigger pieces of furniture, like the sectional in this home’s case, and then work your way down. You can easily change your throw pillows when you are tired of them, but never rip out your floor or randomly go purchase a new sectional. If you do quality the first go around you will be happy for a long time.
H&D: Do you ever help your vacation home clientele maintain their properties after you’ve finished their project?
Holiday: We do help our clients maintain their homes after completion. I have a company that I started that specifically offers house sitting, where we stop by and make sure everything is running well, keeping the house clean, check the mail, storm prep, etc. I make sure that if there is an issue, we get it taken care of right away.
H&D: What is the biggest tip you have for someone looking to build and design a home on Anna Maria Island and Holmes Beach?
Holiday: Location! Do you want to be closer to the beach? Do you want to be able to dock your boat? What are your needs? Make sure the lot or home functions for you. Make sure you are working with a builder who has a reputation for staying on schedule and doing impeccable work. I should have probably said this first, but hire a designer! I know this may seem like an unnecessary expense when you are looking at your budget, however a designer ensures a house becomes your home. The process runs smoother and, dare I say, on-budget when you have a professional designer involved. If you surround yourself with a fantastic team you will get nothing short of your dream home!
Photography by Anne Yarbrough
1487 2nd Street, Suite E
Sarasota, FL 34236