Jessica Cote was named our new design director earlier this year, and we couldn’t imagine a better mix of skills for the job. Armed with copious art school experience (including from nearby SCAD), and a psychology degree, she is passionate about helping people express themselves through the homes they live in.
Jessica’s work with New Leaf customers begins once they’ve chosen their house plan and finished all the necessary paperwork. She sits down with homebuyers for an initial meeting at this early stage to select all the fits and finishes that will make their house a home. The initial meeting can take a few hours, and always starts with a conversation about their personalities, lifestyles, and visions for “home.” Ultimately, the meeting is about more than knob handles and appliances: it’s about designing a future.
How did you get started in this design business?
It started as an extension of my motherhood journey, actually. My son is on the spectrum, so we learned early on to really whittle down the choices he’d have to make each day. Friends noticed my house was super organized, and asked me to help them. I became the Queen of the Mommy Command Center, where mom knew she could find the keys, the permission slips – everything. That morphed into the Zen Dens I helped them design, and just grew from there.
So basically, I paired my art training, psychology degree and momming into a career!
Do you have a design philosophy?
I call myself a home therapist! Home should be a place that makes chaos melt. If yours isn’t, then let’s fix it. Also, if you are constantly moving things from one place to another, your space isn’t working. But it’s also fixable!
How intimidated are people when they walk in for a first meeting with an interior designer?
Well, first of all, I’m a sneakers and baseball cap girl. So I intimidate nobody! But more importantly, I’m here to design THEIR house, not mine. I especially like to work with people who have a firm, even really tight, budget. It’s so rewarding to help them make the most of their new home.
How did you go from mom-whisperer to your job at New Leaf?
I actually was interviewing with a number of homebuilders last year. I met the team at New Leaf and knew instantly this was the place for me. They care so much about building a great product, and they care about hiring and retaining good people. I fell for them on a Zoom call, and that’s not easy!
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve encountered so far?
Sometimes our job is to put out fires; products we selected may suddenly be unavailable, and we have to help our clients navigate that. But honestly, the biggest challenges come when multiple generations are working together to design a new house. I listen to everybody’s opinion, and we work hard to make our new home buyers very happy.
Any Questions for Jessica?
Send your design comments or questions to Jessica Cote using the form below.