This Designer's Passion for Old and New Inspires Her One-of-a-Kind Projects

Jean Liu's rebellious upbringing led her on an unconventional path to interiors.

jean liu
Nathan Schroder

“I’m always being rebellious,” admits Jean Liu, whose rule-flouting along her zigzag path to design is mirrored in her gutsy interiors.

Defying parental expectations to study law, she earned a foreign-service degree from Georgetown University and a masters in theology at Harvard before returning to her native Dallas. While overseeing the family lighting business, Liu realized that her side gig, decorating homes, was her calling. In 2007, she launched her own firm, winning accolades for rooms that effortlessly fuse classic and modern in a way that converts even the most timid traditionalists.

jean liu living room design
In a ranch house designed by Liu, a pair of midcentury chairs echoes the symmetry of the room dividers and the gold marbling of the dining room wallpaper.
Nathan Schroder

To wit: Her Stanford White pied-à-terre in Manhattan has “original ornate moldings with cherubs juxtaposed with sleek sofas.” For Liu, who also creates contemporary outdoor pieces for her line, the appeal of design lies in its immediacy. “Pondering religious movements was too abstract. I live for the gratification that comes from directly impacting my clients’ daily lives.”

This story originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of CQ.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
More From Designer Tips