Coterie Crush: Interior Designer Jade O’Connor from Athens, GA

Feb 24 2014

by Cheri Leavy

We met the well-heeled and well-traveled Jade O’Connor at The Southern C Summit in her new hometown of Athens last August. Her chic aesthetic is honed from living around the world (Tennessee, Florida, Virginia, Vienna, Hungary to name a few) but the Alabama native dubs herself “a Southerner first and forever.”

Jade O’Connor Designs provides numerous services including interior design, event planning and photo styling.

Check out Jade’s favorites that she shared with us here…


You can’t make me choose. It would be like choosing a favorite child. I love Schumacher known as a staple in interiors. I’ve had a love affair with Osborne and Little since my days in Washington, DC. I am a huge fan of Hable Construction, and not just because Susan Hable lives in Athens, I’ve loved her fabrics way before then. I have fallen for random one offs I find online and in outlet stores. It doesn’t have to be expensive, it just has to work in the space. I am addicted to prints on fabrics. Ok well, I actually have an addiction to fabrics in general. I have been known to cry at a drapery install. Fabrics are just so beautiful. I love mixing different fabric weights, colors, patterns to create an inspired canvas. I am addicted to the idea of carrying one print throughout the room and aspire to create an entire living space in just one pattern, one print on all the sofas, drapes, chairs. I usually don’t do matching but when I love a fabric enough, it makes me want to break my own rules.


I believe in living beautifully everyday because to us, in our house, everyday is a celebration. I use my china and silver as often as I can. I mix and match my grandmother’s china with my Lenox wedding china. When we lived in Hungary, I started collecting Herend. Herend is named after the Hungarian village it inhabits. The heritage of Herend is long and impressive, as evidenced by such famous collectors as Queen Victoria and the Baron Rothschild, whose patterns are still in production today. I collected their colorful charges with a gold edge, the Gwendolyn plates. I am constantly picking up pretty little pieces of china I find to add to my collection from Scott’s Market.


I always start with my main man, Ben Moore. Their collection of whites alone rock my world. I love Urbane Bronze by BM. I have used their Timberwolf Gray maybe too many times but it’s just that good. I love Old Navy by Ben Moore. It’s a true navy. I like colors that read true, that do what I want them to do, that show up on the walls and don’t change on me. Lately I’ve been really into beautiful and deep colors that add depth to a room. I’ve always loved just painting one wall in a room.


Blogs are my newspapers. I make a cup of espresso in the morning and read over all my favorites. Many blogs me inspire me to create. I am relaunching my blog this spring so be on the look out for it in April. Absolutely Beautiful Things by Anna Spiro is based in Australia and is adventurous in her design and does pattern play like no other. Design Love Fest is stellar. I can’t stop looking at the Sartorialist, all the beautiful portraits of people. I’m crazy about Humans of New York. And I am a huge fan of The Glitter Guide, a girly guide to daily life. With the amount of sequins I have in my closet, it’s a natural fit for me.


Now you are talking. I light candles around four in the afternoon and let them burn until we turn in. At the events I style, I use candles everywhere. My own wedding, set in a wooden chapel, was probably a fire hazard with hundreds of candles creating the perfect light. I always pick up a candle at Anthropologie. My favorite is their Capri Blue Jar candle. It lasts forever. I love a lemon scent for the kitchen and I buy seasonal scents too. Nothing too strong or overpowering but makes you feel the reason for the season. Illume Candles are amazing.


Does the Grand Bazar in Istanbul count? I could shop my whole life there. I’ve packed things into bags and shipped things from the markets in Paris and Brussels. I’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time at the Ecseri market just outside of Budapest, Hungary where I’ve collected most of my favorite pieces. Locally I tend to head to Madison Markets for good finds. One of my favorite stores in Alexandria, Va. is Random Harvest. They have beautiful pieces at very good prices. When in Atlanta, I always pop into Pieces Inc. and Bungalow Classic. Online I head to ebay and craigslist when I need a specific item.


Dorothy Draper. Phillipe Starck. Kelly Weastler. I love designers who are opinionated and push the limits. I admire designers who create spaces that awaken the senses and the possibilities.


I love having custom pieces of art commissioned for clients and working with local artist to make a piece. I work a lot with Mercury Artworks. They are a fine art gallery based in Athens, specializing in corporate and residential acquisitions from all over the country. They offer consulting services to assist designers with locating exactly the right thing for any interior. And they make my job a hell of a lot easier. One of my favorite artists that they introduced me to is Claire Joyce, who’s work in glitter (told ya I was into glitter) is modern and whimsical. I have a gorgeous piece from her collection hanging in my own home.


Being raised by an interior designer in the most tasteful home, I appreciate a well edited collection of the beautiful, the old, the unusual. Living abroad has given me access to so many things. Whenever I travel, I find a piece of art by a local artist and bring it home with me. I have a rather large collection of Radko ornaments as I started purchasing them in Krakow where they were first made. When we were in Russia this summer, I added to our Christmas collection with handmade, hand painted wooden ornaments. I collect vintage cake stands because you can never have enough and you can use them in so many rooms. The key to a good collection is display a few well chosen pieces and store the rest. Don’t let a collection take over your space or your home.


I love that the South aspires to pursue the tradition of courtesy, chivalry, and good manners where the women still “dress” and the men are gentlemen. Growing up Southern is a privilege. We Southerners have a love of country that moves me. Southerners celebrate our friends and family in such style, with grace. Southerners embody hospitality and know how to throw a good party. Even though I married a Yankee, our family has adopted many Southern habits almost innately in our home, like cocktails on the porch. As a good Southern girl, I make a bourbon cocktail borrowed from The National, Peter Dale’s restaurant here in Athens. It’s bourbon, fresh grapefruit juice, Blenheim’s spicy ginger ale. It’s kind of amazing.


I have a bold, modern take on traditional southern style with an eclectic European flair that uses strong color statements. Yeah. That’s me.

(Photo by Jennifer Little)


Links to spotlights on other interior designers and tastemakers –


Co-Founder of The Southern Coterie

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Co-Publisher guide2athens & Bulldawg Illustrated


Cheri Leavy View More Blog Posts from this Author

Cheri Leavy is a connector, cheerleader and marketing consultant for fellow entrepreneurs.
Building rapport and strengthening a sense of community:
• A community of female entrepreneurs through the The Southern Coterie and The Southern C Summit
• The faces and places of Athens that make our city so vibrant through guide2athens
• A community of devoted football fans through Bulldawg Illustrated
- Contributing editor to Coastal Illustrated, Executive Board Member of the UGA Alumni Association

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