Designer and reality TV star Jillian Harris came to the Valley almost two weeks ago to spice up one homeowner Ricci Rivera's feline-troubled home, where Harris spent a day creating a cat-friendly corner. We caught up with her to talk about how she got into the design world and how her newest project, Charlie Ford, is going since she launched this past spring.
And, of course, we had to get her thoughts on the next Bachelor, Juan Pablo.
See also: The Seven Creepiest Moments in The Bachelor and The Bachelorette History
If you're not in the know about this small-town Canadian girl, know that there's no shortage of reasons why she's kind of a big deal. Besides being an interior designer, Harris has made a name for herself on ABC's The Bachelor and Bachelorette franchise. She starred in The Bachelorette's fifth season after fighting for Jason Mesnick's heart on The Bachelor's 13th season and leaving loveless. The Bachelor nation fell in love with her humor, sass, and mostly her honesty that season. It's won her a fan base that transcends the show. Fans will remember her picturesque proposal from Ed Swiderski, though the couple broke off their engagement in July 2010.
Since then she's moved on shows including Extreme Makeover Home Edition and HGTV's Love It or List It, Too, which she co-hosts with realtor Todd Talbot. Most recently she's been focusing on her online vintage furniture and accessory store, Charlie Ford Vintage, which she started with her cousin Tori.
What have you done in Scottsdale so far? Are you looking forward to hitting any special spots? We just got in late last night and we're staying at the Fairmont and they set us up with an amazing bottle of champagne and cheese and crackers. So, we got in and we had a little bit of bubbly, and tomorrow I'm going to sleep in and lie by the pool -- if I can handle it! And we're going to dinner at [Bourbon Steak]. Sunday morning we're going to the spa and shopping.
Fun! And how is Charlie Ford going since you launched this June? It's going so good. It's been such a learning process but it has re-energized me. I was feeling, a little bit like, punch-in-the-clock kind of thing, and it's totally re-energized me and made me just so happy and grateful for what I do. Since I became a public figure I've always been working so hard on other people's ventures, to promote other people's products and other people's TV shows and whatnot. And I've been so grateful to do it and I've met so many amazing people, but this has made me decide that maybe I want to start my own thing. And it is difficult ... Like, I wake up at four in the morning and go to Google analytics and go to the site and see what has sold and think "What else could people be looking for?" and "How else can I make the site better?" But it's been fun. I did it with my cousin Tori -- her and I are like best friends and sisters -- and the name is named after her son. So it's like a family business.
Do you ever get tired of being known as "former Bachelorette" Jillian Harris? Like, do you ever regret that decision? There was a time that I used to, but especially lately, watching how The Bachelor family has dealt with Gia's death I realized that we are all such a tight-knit family and we all have each other's backs. I've never been in a sorority -- I never really went to a college like that --so for, me [The Bachelor] is like that extended family. Even the "villains" on my show. Wes and I were texting all day the other day, and being able to have those friendships basically all over North America it actually makes me so proud of myself for doing the show. I'm so happy that I gained all those friendships from it. I will go to the grave knowing that I have this whole community of people that will always have my back based on this huge risk I took.
And speaking of Gia, watching people from the show react on social media, as a fan, you're wondering, "Are they all really that close?" How much of that is real? I think it depends. I think you establish relationships just like you would in real life. Like you're all a part of this like, sorority ... It's like you become a part of a sisterhood. So whether you've met them or not, you feel a connection to them. But of course sometimes in real life or at camp you make those really, really strong [connections]. Like I'm really, really close with Molly Meznek, I'm really close with Ali Fedotowsky and Emily Maynard and even like Ashley Spivey, and I know that I'm really connected to them. But there's definitely some people that for whatever reason -- if your paths didn't cross enough or maybe if there are those differences -- you're not at close with. But you still feel like family.
How did you get into design? My mom used to own an antique and decor store, which is where my love of antiques came from. And everybody used to say that I would go into business and that I would be either in television or design -- and both of those felt completely alien to me since I lived in a town of like, 5,000 people. I thought I was going to be a teacher or pregnant. I didn't know there were any other options. The fact that I ended up doing both is, I think, actually hilarious.
But I worked at a design store called Caban. It was a Canadian-run store that was owned by Ralph Lauren years ago, and I loved the idea of being a designer. I also waitressed at a restaurant group and [the owner] was looking for an assistant to the creative director. I applied for the job and told him that I wanted to be a designer one day and he hired me and taught me everything i know about design. From there it just sort of, took off.
You were once quoted saying people shouldn't look at design magazines when they're re-doing their homes. Why is that? And where would you recommend people go for inspiration instead? I don't mind design magazines at all, but sometimes people try to mimic a space too much. I think design magazines are actually a great inspiration. I love Pinterest and Elle Decor is one of my favorite [magazines]. So I actually love magazines, but just try not to mimic a look too much. Try to draw inspiration. Most of these magazines show spaces of real people and by speaking with a lot of design magazines, I know that they don't love cookie-cutter spaces. They love spaces that have personality. So really dissect what you're seeing in that space that you're attracted to, because often times, it's a bit of those people's personalities.
I always recommend that if someone wants their house to give them that "pitter-patter" in their heart, then they've got to figure out what their personality is, what makes your heart go "pitter-patter." For example, in our house, I love art and design and architecture. So ... I found this little place in SoHo where you can find old antique architectural drawings. I love New York and I love design, so I had those framed. Instead of just grabbing any old piece of art that matches your home décor, something that you don't connect with, really think about what makes your heart tick and what your soul's made of.
If you have a pair of $400 shoes -- or for some girls like, $2,000 shoes -- if you have something that you love and saved up for, I think it should be on display. Take your favorite item and put it under a big glass cloche or put it in a shadowbox or have an open bookshelf with all of your shoes on display as opposed to them being in a closet. Just figure out how, when you walk into a room, you can go "Ooh! These are the things I love!" or "These are the things that remind me of that trip."
I really like that shoe idea. And what about Love It or List It, Too? I know you have to play it up for the cameras, but I've always wondered if you get offended when people decide to list their homes after you've renovated. Well, season two is a little bit different than the season you're watching right now, and although I love season one, it was a big learning curve for me. We have a design team and people that help execute the projects, and [during season one] I was really learning how that was going to work. So season two I really felt like I could own the spaces more. I felt like the spaces were more me; they're more my brand.
So season one was a little bit different, but season two I really firmly believe that with 90 percent of our homes the reveals were as perfect as we could possibly get. I loved all of them. We did a reveal yesterday and the design team -- we did such a great job that I was almost crying. And they decided to list it. I wasn't offended though because it wasn't because it wasn't beautiful, it's just because it wasn't working for them because they found something else. You know, in season one I felt like I was worried that people weren't happy with what I did, but in season two I feel like they're all happy, they just found something that worked better. And as long as they're happy, which they usually are, you just move on to your next homeowner.
People are so invested in their own spaces, and if you're going to be investing the money to renovate, chances are you're going to want to stay. Otherwise, you'd just sell to begin with. So sometimes it's a bit frustrating for Todd, although him and I have a lot of fun together. But I'm really confident with our design team and confident with what people need and people, although they seem really angry on the show when there are issues, they always understand that it's not my fault and that it needs to be fixed. I usually see them at the beginning of the day so I'm like, "So what are we going to fight over today?" But actually the homeowners are lovely.
Would you ever consider doing Bachelor Pad? Uh, not now, because I'm with Justin and I think we have a very mature, loving relationship and I don't think that show is good for that. But in the past when I was still single, before I met Justin, I considered it. Like, I thought it would be fun and I watched my friends do it. You know, you always think, "Oh it would be so bad for my career." But people still love you. People get over it. I personally love the show Bachelor Pad almost better than The Bachelor now, and they haven't done a season in a while. But no, now that I'm in a relationship I think that's probably out of the cards for me.
Probably a smart choice. What about Juan Pablo? Any opinions about the next Bachelor? I don't know...he's really good looking. That's all I really have to say about that! I don't really have much of an opinion yet, but you know one thing I've realized that's actually a little bit humbling is that I watch the show -- and they're brand new people that I haven't met -- and I watch the show like a fan. And sometimes, I get a little bit sassy in my opinions. But then, when the show ends, those people are automatically part of the family, and I feel bad, like, about my opinions! Like when Sean [Lowe] said that he hadn't had sex or that he was going to abstain from having sex until he got married, I just was like in shock and didn't believe it. But I feel like now that he is part of my family, that is something I should have kept to myself.
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So, sometimes I have a hard time reviewing and commenting on what's happening, but I do think, from what I know, Juan Pablo was one my favorite's on Desiree's season. I think he was a really smart pick. I think he's good eye candy and he's got good personality and I've gone through his Instagram and seen he has like a little niece or a nephew and he seems to be very cuddly and lovey. So I think he'll be a good guy.