Behind the Scenes

An Inside Look at James Décor with Owner Lee Haik

Photo: Michaela Satterfield

Photo: Michaela Satterfield

Sitting behind a desk covered in samples and papers from current projects, Lee Haik proudly reminisces on how she came to be the owner of James Décor, Springfield’s first interior design firm.

After obtaining a degree in home economics at what is now Pittsburgh State University, where she took design classes, Lee says she spent some time with her daughters Martie and Jacque as a stay-at-home mom before purchasing the business. In 1982, Lee and her husband John took over James Décor.

The store was originally opened in 1946. Wallpaper and paint were two of its mainstays, and Lee says she enjoyed matching colors. The original plan was to work part time as an interior designer, but Lee says running the business quickly became a full-time endeavor.

When the Haiks decided to move the business to its current location on Republic Road, Lee says they stopped selling paint and turned James Décor into a full furniture store and interior design firm.

Opening the John-Richard showroom in 2010 was a highlight for the business.

“That was probably one of the smartest moves we made,” Lee says, “because it gave us something to get excited about and people in town were excited about it.”

The line is a favorite among designers and clients, known for carrying unique furniture. Lee says the pieces are designed to work together.

“It’s still one of our best lines,” she says.

Lee says two of her other favorite lines are Marge Carson and Century, but she likes every line the business carries.

Two of James Décor’s goals are to offer a variety of price points and to offer both traditional and contemporary styles, Lee says. This style is called transitional—Lee’s personal favorite.

The variety the showroom displays carries into other aspects of the business.

Although Lee says residential design is her specialty, James Décor has ventured into other types of projects as well. Among the projects tackled are doctors’ offices, law offices and even a dairy.

“I really love what I do,” says Lee Haik, owner of James Décor.

“I really love what I do,” says Lee Haik, owner of James Décor.

“I really get bored if I do the same thing over and over,” Lee says. “I really like the mix. I like to change. Each individual project is so different and the way people live has to dictate the way we design.”

One of the trademarks of design at James Décor is that it’s centered around the people.

Lee remarks that some of her current clients have been working with her since she took over the business in 1982. She is even working with the children and grandchildren of some of her first clients.  

“You can be the best designer in the world but if you don’t have customer service and you don’t care about the people you’re working with, it doesn’t matter,” Lee says.

Relationships are what gave the business success in its early years, and they promise to keep the business running long into the future.

The business is family-owned and Lee says she hopes her daughters will eventually take over, with the help of a team of designers currently working at James Décor.

“I have a staff of young designers that are very talented,” Lee says.

Aside from a dedication to clients and other people involved with the business, the heart behind it all is a love for interior design.

“I really love what I do,” Lee says.

Michaela Satterfield

James Décor Writer

Interior Design vs. Interior Decorating

The Art and the Science of Interior Design

Photo: Michaela Satterfield

Photo: Michaela Satterfield

There is much confusion surrounding the field of interior design. Many wonder if it is a valid field, thinking there is little skill required in choosing sofa fabrics and drapery colors. Some believe you just have to have a “knack” for it — designing spaces requires little more than some extra creativity.

What many don’t realize, however, is that interior design is not just an art. There is a science to it.

While there are many similarities between interior decorators and interior designers, the fundamental difference is in education.

Interior decorators work to help clients choose décor for their homes. There is no doubt that this requires plenty of interpersonal skill and creativity. Decorators have a natural talent for deciding which things would work together. They are experts on finishes, accessories and furniture.

Interior designers, on the other hand, have obtained a formal degree in interior design, whether that be a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in interior design. The big concepts of interior design — like sustainability, universal design and an understanding of the construction of a building — are what interior designers may understand better than interior decorators.

Designers look beyond the surface of each building they design. They understand how homes and buildings work on a structural level. They work with architects and contractors to design the building from the blueprints to the finished product, keeping in mind important things like building codes and space planning.

The choice of hiring a designer or a decorator, then, depends on what kind of work you need done. If the work is primarily aesthetic, either a decorator or designer can get the job done. If there are more structural changes needed, a designer will have the education to get that done as well.

Michaela Satterfield

James Décor Writer