It isn't always easy to grab hold of the truth and it gets even more difficult in the name of all things Tinsel Town. That being said, when I spent some time with Jillian Harris to reconnect with my Polished Redneck I wasn't sure what to expect. Ever since her appearance on the Bachelorette I wondered what else we could expect from this pretty face and in the name of honesty Jillian is not only smokin' hot, but she is also smart with a heapin' side order of funny.
Joshua Estrin: What exactly is a "Polished Redneck"?
Jillian Harris: Haha! I coined the term when I first got off The Bachelorette -- people would ask how I would describe myself and part of me wanted to say I'm a straight up redneck -- from Northern Alberta (I mean Northern, like about 15 hours north of the Montana border!). I grew up fishing, four-wheeling, camping and playing with frogs. It really still is my happy place. But I have a love for all things delicate as well: fine linen, sequins where they don't belong (like shorts!) expensive perfume (my favorite is Bond no.9) and shoes, shoes, shoes. So... Polished redneck was my best description! It just stuck!
JE: What do you encounter as the most common design challenge?
JH: I would say a big challenge is when people are trying to achieve a specific 'look' instead of being focused on bringing out the story of themselves in a room. What's most important in a space isn't if it's current or trendy or matchy-matchy -- but if the room radiates the owner's personality -- filled with stories, memories and nostalgia. To me, that is what makes a great space. I also have to say that most window lines from 1985-1992 drive me crazy. Tacky arches and hexagon windows -- how do you deal with that? Character architecture seems to be able to support funny shapes and unconventional approaches, but in the '80s I feel like they got it all wrong!
JE: What do people need to know before embarking on a design project? Is a professional always necessary?
JH: I don't think a professional is always necessary, and let's be honest, not everyone can afford one. I believe having a firm plan and creating a mood board or story-board for conceptual direction is necessary. I LOVE Pinterest, polyvore and of course my site for coming up with fun and creative ideas. Once you organize all of your ideas, it's time to budget. I use excel to list out every item I'm interested in buying and then put the associated cost in the next column. And I ALWAYS add 15% on the end and try to keep referring to that budget as I carry on throughout the project.
Most importantly, take your time. I mean, don't let the project drag on for years (I know you guys are out there!). At some point you just have to get the project done and move on with life, but at the same time, don't rush and make rash purchases just for the sake of completing the project. In the end, it's just like a wise woman once told me (my mom), it's all about balance.
JE: Tell me about your latest projects.
JH: My most exciting and latest is partnering up with The Real Women of Philidaphia. It was such an honor to be approached by Philadelphia Cream Cheese to partner with their online community, Real Women of Philadelphia. They have this amazing interactive community that allows women across the country to share their favorite recipes, become friends and swap stories on all kinds of topics. The partnership was really a no brainer. Not only does it incorporate my love for food (I shared some of my favorite party dishes on the site), but I also have the opportunity to give one lucky lady the kitchen of her dreams through their recent "Kitchen of Dreams" contest. So, food and design wrapped into one -- I'm in heaven! It's been so much fun sharing kitchen tips on the- everything from how to hide your clutter to what makes the best pasta sauce. Every women can use some new design and entertaining tips.
I've also started filming full-time for Love it or List It to air on the W network in Canada, which I'm so excited about!
JE: What do you think is the greatest misconception people have about you?
JH: Oh boy. I actually think people know me pretty well. I am a pretty open book! I think in general, now that I have a public job and have been referred to as a celebrity my whole perception of what a celeb actually is has changed. It's just regular people doing their job and (hopefully) doing what they love. Not always rolling in money, not always happy, not always confident. Having said that -- I feel incredibly blessed and so fortunate with my life, career, friends and health.
NOTE: In the spirit of full disclosure I received no pay from Kraft products nor do I have any commercial relationship with them.