All in the design: Eric Jirgens talks of his favorites, philosophies, and influences

by Jessica Carreras

When most people set out to put together their home, they tackle the task alone. But there's a lot to consider when piecing together the perfect pad: furniture and color schemes, window treatments and artwork, layout and room use.
Sometimes, when it comes to home design, it's OK to ask for a little help – and not from your Aunt Linda.
Cozy sanctuary? Futuristic feeding space? An entertainer's utopia? Whatever the theme, interior designers can help to take your ideas and make them into reality, turning mere rooms into livable spaces that speak to your style. The two designers featured in this year's Fall Home Guide, Eric Jirgens of Eric Charles Designs and Helen Eisenhardt of Gorman's Home Furnishings, share tips from their years of interior design experience to help get you started on making your house into a home.

Eric Jirgens, owner, Eric Charles Designs

Why did you decide to become an interior designer?
Humorously, my life in interior design started as a boy when, after having reviewed numerous house plan books, I told my parents that I wanted to "remodel" the barn on the family farm in Alamo, Mich., into a residence.
Throughout my professional career, which began at Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids and continued at design firms both in Detroit and northern Michigan, my work has shown a strong respect for classic design principles.
I was also just recently elected to the Cranbrook Academy of Art and Art Museum Board of Governors and also as a board member of the American Friends of Blerancourt – a museum outside of Paris, France, which bolsters French-American relations through art.

Who or what is your biggest design influence?
I would list architects Frank Lloyd Wright and Eliel Saarinen among my biggest influences.

Design-wise, which room is the most important in a house?
I believe that the living room is the most important room in the home. The living room invokes the ideals of how we live. It should be energizing, inviting and welcoming to you and your guests and it should also invite the opportunity for relaxation and conversation.

What is your favorite new design style or feature?
My favorite new design styles or features include green building materials, in-home technology, computer-controlled lighting schemes, integrated refrigerator and freezer drawers and new age tile and fabrics.

What is your design philosophy?
I seek to create spaces that are warm and livable on a daily basis. A home should be beautiful, functional and original. I create spaces that are intensively detailed yet warm and livable on a daily basis as well as for grand entertaining.
Over the years, Eric Charles Designs has earned a reputation for designing custom luxury homes for discriminating clients across the country in styles ranging from traditional to modern – including projects in Manhattan, Aspen, Colo., Palm Beach, Fla., as well as notable homes across the state of Michigan.


Topics: Guides