[Photo by Callie Hobbs Photography]
Hi! I’m Jodi Cook, owner + principal of Cook Design House. I thought it was high time I said hello and told you a bit about myself. First bit: I never intended to be an interior designer. I know a lot of designers who say that they were drawing floor plans at age 7 and always knew that they would design. I wish I could say that, but it’s just not the case! At age 7, I thought it would be cool to be the one who names nail polish colors. Instead I chose a degree in business, and majored in Marketing & Management because it was a “practical choice”. I was 12 credits away from graduating when I had a quarter-life crisis and changed my major to Interior Design. Until the moment that my career adviser suggested it, I didn’t even know it was an option for a job! I thought it was akin to naming nail polish (i.e. an awesome but obviously pretend career). Apparently all of the “fun” classes I had been taking on the side, like Art History and Sketching 1, gave her the impression that I was craving a creative outlet. It turned out my “fun” classes made up the pre-req’s for the design program at UW-Madison so I applied. But interior design? Where I grew up, no one was an interior designer. They were farmers or teachers or doctors or sold John Deere. Was this a real job, and could I even do it?
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The writing was on the wall if I had paid attention. I grew up on a charming little farm in Wisconsin surrounded by sisters and family antiques (both went totally under-appreciated at the time). Our 110+ year old farm house is the thing dreams are made of, and my mother filled it with handmade rag rugs, original artwork from my great-aunt, and gorgeous one-of-a-kind bench-made furniture which was often crafted by my maternal grandfather from wood harvested from our farm (and dried in our solar kiln – I can’t make this stuff up). Grandpa also built houses for a living and I grew up visiting his construction sites. I didn’t realize I was training for a future career! The smell of fresh lumber still reminds me of his workshop and fills me with nostalgia.
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My paternal great-grandfather is the one who built our century-old family farmhouse so I had skilled craftsmen on both sides of the family. Perhaps it was being surrounded by such character & quality from a young age, but I still have a deep affinity for vintage and antique pieces. I can’t say I have a lick of the skill that my predecessors have for rug-making or woodworking, but their love of surrounding oneself with beautiful & functional pieces sunk into my genes. Sadly, I became so entrenched with finding a “practical” job that I didn’t stop to consider what I might enjoy doing, or what skills were ingrained into my DNA. I am so grateful to that career adviser (whose name I forgot long ago) for the guidance and suggestion. I absolutely love my work! I love making spaces that are as beautiful as they are functional so my clients can have a gorgeous backdrop in which to live their lives and the freedom to enjoy their homes without being overly worried about ruining them. And I am always on board with including collected, personal pieces that make a home uniquely yours. We all have a story, and our homes should tell it! Thanks for listening to a bit of mine!
[ABOVE: The beautiful farm where I grew up.]
[ABOVE: A snippet of my home which includes an original etching by my great-aunt, a vintage demi-john, a china cabinet that belonged to my aunt & uncle, and a collection of champagne glasses from my great-grandmother. We use them whenever our lives call for champagne, and I’m certain she would be happy to hear it. Photo by Emily Minton Redfield]
[ABOVE: My little family in the rolling hills of Wisconsin near our family farm.]