Phoenix interior designer Jaimee Rose says she’s never been busier. There’s a spec home she did, which sold before it was even complete (a collab with architect CP Drewett), the renovation of a 1920s hacienda in Tucson, and the new home she’s doing for herself and her husband, in Arcadia Lite. And those are just to name a few.
Since launching her firm, Rose has become known for her soft, romantic, and airy interiors that often have a vintage appeal, images of which get Instagrammed, Pinterested and star in design publications. But when first making her career pivot into design, Rose admits she had a moment of extreme self-doubt.
“I had signed up to do some AutoCad and SketchUp classes at Scottsdale Community College,” she recalls. “I found myself in the bathroom, crying. I was a Pulitzer Prize finalist, and there I was in a class with 20-year-olds. It was challenging and humbling.”
Rose’s name might be familiar to Arizonans from her previous career. She spent many years as a highly respected feature writer for the Arizona Republic, after reporting stints at the Los Angeles Times and the Baltimore Sun. Her 2012 Pulitzer nomination was for coverage of the Gabby Giffords shooting.
While she was writing for the Republic, interior design was always an undercurrent. Rose grew up in Gilbert, with a builder father, so construction and design were part of her upbringing, as were job site visits. She went to BYU and ASU for journalism but always managed to schedule a few interior design classes into her semesters. When she became a staff writer for the Republic, Rose admits that design was always on her mind. “I read interior design magazines on weekends,” she recalls. “I picked paint chips for editors who wanted some help with their homes. Oddly enough, I never wanted to write about interior design. I would rather write about people and their stories.”
When a friend asked her to design her house, Rose took on the challenge, working evenings and weekends to get the job done. That project made her realize that her true calling wasn’t necessarily journalism, but, instead, interiors.
“I was clueless, but I forged ahead,” Rose recalls. “I went to work for DeCesare Design Group in Mesa to soak up some knowledge, and then I went out on my own. In my first six months, I learned all the hard lessons, including the client who didn’t pay me.”
A project in Silverleaf, followed by a remodel in Arcadia by someone who had read Rose’s newspaper columns and took a chance on her, cemented her new venture. Since then, her business has grown to include 11 staff members and a growing list of not only residential clients, but commercial as well—such as the recent design of the Vibrant Skin Bar in Phoenix and IVL Collective, an exercise studio and boutique in Utah. Rose has worked with high-profile local architects such as Mark Candelaria, Jim Blochberger, and Scott Carson, polishing off their designs to create appealing interiors.
A few years ago, Rose came out with a popular “Arcadia” wall covering, dotted with images of local landmarks. While the wall covering was a “one-off that had its moment,” Rose has more wall covering, fabric, and furniture ideas in her head. “I am tenacious,” she says, “and it will happen.”
While all of her projects are different, Rose always looks to add an element of personal history. “I love to find something old that the client owns. It might be old love letters that we turn into wallpaper or a pair of ballet shoes that we frame. We’ve also done custom maps that trace a family’s trajectory.”
Does she miss writing? “When I was at the paper, I was celebrating people’s lives by telling their stories,” Rose explains. “I still spend time with people and tell their stories. It’s just in a different form now.