Interior designer Jaque Bethke goes for drama

  • Article by: LYNN UNDERWOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 22, 2013 - 2:01 PM

Interior designer Jaque Bethke doesn’t do timid. She believes in creating “experiences,” the bolder the better.

Interior designer Jaque Bethke loves to color her clients’ worlds.

“Color makes me smile,” she said. “Red is my favorite color because it’s so stimulating.”

The natural redhead, lead designer for Jaque Bethke for Pure Design Environments, is known for her fusion of vibrant hues, layers of lighting and quirky, cutting-edge design.

If you’ve visited a Parade Home or Luxury Tour home in recent years, and noticed walls covered in deep shades of eggplant or teal, columns made of stacked-glass chandeliers and ceilings hung with the funkiest light fixtures you’ve ever seen, odds are they were designed by Bethke.

“When other designers were playing it safe, I had a reputation for being gutsy,” she said.

The Buffalo High School graduate honed her dramatic style designing hotel rooms in Las Vegas in the 1980s. Later she joined Swanson Homes COI Design team, creating interiors for new construction. In 2009, she opened her own Eden Prairie firm, where her strong design statements have attracted accolades and clients. Pure has grown to 11 employees, including seven designers and Bethke’s daughter, Cassandra Bethke, president, and has won numerous industry awards. Two of Bethke’s local projects are showcased in a new coffee-table book, “Interior Design: Best of Residential Architecture and Design” ($45.95, Sandow Media).

We talked to Bethke about some of her most offbeat ideas, her favorite materials — and one design disaster.

Q Why did you become an interior designer?

A I was the kid who could make something out of nothing — curtains out of jeans, a slipcover out of a coat. When I was growing up, I was allowed to stretch my imagination. When I got the opportunity to work as an intern to design hotel rooms in Las Vegas, I discovered interior design was my passion.

 

Q Describe your signature style.

A I create subtle details that make a spectacular impact.

 

Q How do you make your rooms stand out?

A I think in the dynamic of a space being a “living” space. It needs to change with the events or functions that are within the space. That means it needs to smile, laugh, cry, be peaceful, smell and provide a window for the occupant to experience these things. You have to be OK with doing something extraordinary and unexpected, or dramatic. The space is just a space until it is an experience.

 

Q Why do you use so much glass and other reflective materials?

A Glass is very pliable, sturdy and colorful. It’s been around for so long — it’s organic, yet contemporary. Surfaces that reflect light give the space a different ambience and personality throughout the day.

 

Q Why do clients seek you out?

A. No matter what their home’s style — it’s people who have a passion for color but are afraid to do it themselves. They’re impressed with the way I use color.

 

Q What’s one of the most off-the-wall ideas you’ve used in your own home?

A Living-room drapes made out of metal chain-link fencing. I like a little bit of edge, something unexpected and artistic, but simple in its form. Each panel weighs 200 pounds and is opened by remote control.

 

Q What’s an unusual request you’ve fulfilled for a client?

A A Superman-themed bedroom for an adult. It has an image of a flying Superman across the headboard. The red, white and blue room has silver drapes and spaceship-shaped lamps. I displayed his Superman comic-book collection in shadow boxes.

 

Q What’s a product that you recommend to many clients?

A Centiva flooring for its durability, reflective quality; it’s easy to clean and is soft under your feet. I have it in my lower level.

 

Q What’s one of your design disasters?

A When I was a young designer, I worked on a residence for a basketball player, who later became very famous. I designed his closet, and when the garment boxes were delivered, there was no way his shoes and shirts would fit on the standard-depth shelves, and his pants dragged on the floor. It was a costly mistake.

 

Q What’s the interior style of your home?

A I like to mix classic and midcentury modern — with a little bit of an edge.

Q What are three elements of good design?

A Imagination, color, texture — combining those three to create an experience, not just a pretty space. But there’s a fine balance between just right and over-the-top.

 

Q How has interior design changed in the past decade?

A Technology has made a big impact. We use 3-D computer-modeling tools to create a base file and add design pieces. We can even turn it into a virtual tour with a video. It’s like trying out the car before you buy it. Digitally printed images on glass and other materials give endless opportunities for individuality. Now you can make wallpaper out of family photos. Clients have so many resources and websites like Houzz for ideas, and the sheer numbers of design options are endless.

 

Q What design trends have had their day?

A I don’t care for the whole shabby chic look of washed-out florals and wrinkly linens. It feels like it should be on the beach, not in a Midwestern home.

 

Q What’s the secret to your success?

A Tenacity — my ability to get knocked down and get back up. I’ve also learned to surround myself with gifted people who can do the things that I don’t do well.

 

Q What drives you to keep creating?

A I love how design changes the world, and is in everything we smell, see and touch. The challenge drives me.

 

Lynn Underwood • 612-673-7619

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