Creating for Connection

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UNIQUE VISION: Interior designer Vera Jaye usually can find something special in everyday objects.

 

Early on in her career, Vera Jaye let go of the idea of designing for anything other than her client’s emotional connection to a space.

“I committed to not looking like the next-door neighbor,” says the Naples-based, full-service interior designer and owner of Jaye Design. “I tend not to follow what is trendy at the time because I know it’s going to go out of fashion … so I design for emotion.”

She recently applied that philosophy during her first pro bono project for Valerie’s House, a nonprofit organization with three Southwest Florida locations that helps children and their families grieve the loss of loved ones.

Vera Jaye

“With the time I was given and the leeway I was given, it was pretty easy for me to figure out what I wanted to do,” Jaye says.

She brought the formerly flat ceilings at Valerie’s House bungalows to life with different concepts. In one house, Jaye hung tinsel garland in a diamond shape. “It just stole the show,” she says. In another, she folded 350 origami butterflies in three different sizes, carefully arranging them in a barrel shape.

“You feel like you’re going through a tunnel of a beautiful multicolored rainbow of butterflies,” Jaye says of the finished product. She chose butterflies specifically for their meaning. “Butterflies are symbolic in new energy and renewal, and this is why people are going there,” she says. “They’ve got heavy hearts, and all I wanted to do was to make people smile when they come in.”

Just in time for the winter holidays, Jaye’s parting gift was a Christmas tree designed entirely out of excess red ribbons previously donated to the organization. Even that had a hidden meaning: “We don’t have to reinvent our world to dress it up a little bit,” she says. “People may come and go in our lives, but we still are who we are and don’t necessarily have to reinvent ourselves to move forward.”

Experienced in both creative and technical building skills, Jaye tends to search for the “something special” in everyday objects. Her creative wheels are always turning somehow, a habit she says her father, a builder and restaurateur who built and remodeled all the homes her family lived in, passed down to her.

“My dad apologized to me years ago and said, ‘I’m sorry, you have what I have. You just can’t turn it off,’ and it’s true,” she says.

It’s how Jaye met Valerie’s House Founder and CEO Angela Melvin, after all. Melvin appeared on Jaye’s podcast, Nesting in Naples, which showcases full-time community residents. Jaye launched it to connect the seasonal crowd to full-time community members.

“I wanted to interview people who are the backbone of the Southwest Florida region,” she says. “We’re the ones who bring value to people’s lives when they come down here.”

Not one to restrict herself to one area of expertise, Jaye’s newest out-of-the-box venture is renovating the in-progress educational center of Cypress Cove Landkeepers, where she sits on the board.

“They’ve asked me to create some outdoor art pieces that would work well with Southwest Florida, all the animals that are there, and the landscape,” she says gleefully, adding that she’s already been collecting and drying vines to use in making light fixtures. “It’s very left field, something I can’t say I’ve done before, but I’m extremely excited about it.”

Photo Credit: Courtesy Vera Jaye Design

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