The dream started with a couple of favors for friends and family. We first staged a house for sale for one of our friends, and it sold the very first day to the first couple that viewed it. Next, neighbors asked us to decorate her daughter’s bedroom and they were so happy we ended up decorating the husband’s entire 65,000 square foot office. And then when a former advertising client asked us to do her entire house, we thought maybe we should add an interiors division to our design firm.
I started my design career at eight years old when my father had a beautiful dollhouse made for my Christmas present. While ELLE DÉCOR had yet to be published, I still managed to design my dream house fashioning furniture and textiles from my imagination. I studied art at The Milwaukee Art Museum and went on to get my degree from the University of South Carolina with a double major in advertising and business. Upon graduating, I was hired as an art director at Erwin-Penland Advertising and eventually became associate creative director. I started my own design firm in 1996 and launched a stationery and giftware company in 2006. After three fun, fabulous and crazy years in the business, including an appearance on a NBC reality show, I sold my company and became a licensed artist and designer. I have designed exclusive product collections for Target, American Greetings, Hallmark, Bealls, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Swoozies, DesignDesign, Inc. and more. After years of designing interiors for friends, family and neighbors, I launched JOLIE KOLAJ and ROOM SERVICE with one of my best friends, Gregorie Bylenga.
I began my love affair with design from admiring my grandmother’s beautiful Tudor home in Florida. She had the most amazing taste. It was there that I learned that mixing old with new was cool, as evidenced by her newly recovered leopard print chair that sat on her mother’s oriental rug. Every spring she would pull out white slipcovers and white rugs for the living room and the Orientals would go into storage until fall. My family is blessed with historic homes in Charleston and Sullivan’s Island as well, and I learned a lot from the amazing women that oversaw these homes. Decorating became a true passion and I have a desire to help others do the same. Not always being able to purchase original art for my interiors, I took art lessons and paint my own originals from abstracts to landscapes. Now, I carry on my family’s legacy and have a signature style that mixes the best of the past with fresh modern design.