MH+D Inside Out: Michele Hayes Zajkowski of Ocean View Designs Pushes Clients Outside Their Comfort Zones

In another life outside Maine, Michele Hayes Zajkowski worked in advertising. After several years as a stay-at-home mom and remodeling two homes of her own, she began to pursue a field that she felt passionate about: interior design. She attended Boston Architectural College and interned with Linda Banks of Simply Home, and now Zajkowski has launched a personal venture, Ocean View Designs. Zajkowski tells Maine Home+Design why she teaches her clients to take risks like how she did.

Q. What’s one quality you focus on in your designs?

A. I like a timeless mix of new and old, as well as objects that are somewhat sentimental. If there’s something that a client loves or that belonged to a family member, I like to incorporate it into the new design and freshen it up. A home needs layers of old and new to tell the homeowner’s story.

Q. What’s an easy way to incorporate natural elements?

A. You can do it through fabrics, color, and textured materials, but sometimes it’s as simple as bringing in flowers or plants. Fresh flowers are easily accessible. A lot of clients I work with have wonderful perennial gardens, and there’s a lot that they can bring inside the home from their own garden.

Q. How would you describe the work of an interior designer?

A. Designers always adapt to their clients. Ultimately, my job is to give them the style they envision, but I’m also taking them out of their comfort zone.

Q. What do you mean by that?

A. As a designer, I’m hired to help the client realize their vision and bring it to life. In doing so, I push them a little bit to make decisions they might not make alone. I can’t design a room without listening to my clients’ needs and wants, but it’s so important in good design to push for an element or two outside their comfort zone. The end result, when they trust me, is a unique space that they might not have achieved on their own.

Q. What’s the shortest way you can describe your style?

A. Casually elegant, like a good pair of jeans and a nice silk blouse.

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