As a kid, Jacob Medina wanted to work in fashion merchandising. “But that career wasn’t approved by the parents,” he says, “so I had planned to go to med school. Still, I always wanted a career that was more creative.”
Despite what his parents may have had in mind for him, a successful career in a creative field is exactly where Medina landed. He is now the owner and principal designer of Jacob Medina Interior Design.
The 34-year-old gay Montrose resident grew up right here in Houston. “Well, Deer Park actually. But I try to forget that place,” he adds with a laugh. He attended the University of Houston to study biology and biotechnology. When it came to med school, Medina says, “I put in the effort, but my heart was never in it. I knew it wasn’t right for me, and I finally gave up to ‘find my path’ in life.”
Interior design work was also not part of his plans until a close friend needed some help designing her townhome. “She knew that I had good taste and could design the home,” Medina recalls. “It was my first job. I kind of muddled my way through it, but the home turned out beautifully.”
After that, he decided to pursue a full-time career in interior design. “I didn’t take on projects for about a year. I took the time to teach myself all the skills I felt that I needed to work with clients and learn more about the business. [Then I did some design] work for family and friends,” he says. In late 2017, he opened his firm and started taking on clients. “It’s been a direct path since then of continuing to learn and to grow my business.
Medina knew interior design really was “his thing” after getting lots of positive feedback from his clients and the public. “Also, it just feels like a good fit for my personality. I get to work with amazing people designing beautiful homes.”
Medina also finds inspiration in the fact that design trends are constantly evolving. “Right now, I am inspired by vintage ’70s and Art Deco style,” he says. “The ’70s designs were so wacky, but they can be reinvented in a current way.”
The disco era’s emphasis on bold patterns and color makes ’70s-inspired designs fun for Medina to work with. “All of the furniture was really sculptural. There was wood paneling and green carpets everywhere. It was all so wacky,” Medina notes with a chuckle. “Those design concepts can be pared down and used to create some very interesting and current homes.”
Medina believes that the very laid-back ’70s vibe is something we could all benefit from right now. “We are spending more time than ever in our homes, so a cool space with a laid-back feel is exactly what we need. I guess the important takeaway is that you should expect to see furniture with an emphasis on details and paired with more color and pattern in the home.”
Medina recently finished a complete home renovation in collaboration with 2Scale Architects and Southland Homes. It was a very traditional home with a red-brick exterior and dark, heavy interiors. Medina took the house all the way down to the studs, completely rearranged the interior, and put back it all back together with light-colored materials that formed the backdrop for colorful and modern furniture. “Some of my favorite features are the asymmetrical island, the patterned wallpaper in the powder room, and the large four-foot-square tiles throughout the first floor. They really make a statement.” In addition, the architect changed the back of the home to include floor-to-ceiling glass doors. “The home overlooks the bayou, and is now filled with light. It’s stunning.”
Because the economy was so unstable throughout 2020, Medina did end up downsizing his firm. “I know the world is still a crazy place, but it seems like the Houston economy is getting back to normal. I am looking forward to growing my team of designers and project managers, as well as taking on out-of-state projects in 2021.”
Medina explains that good interior design is imperative when it comes to creating a home that’s beautiful as well as functional and comfortable. “The designer’s role is to marry the client’s needs with the designer’s vision to produce the home of their dreams. We take on the role of managers, creators, marriage counselors, problem solvers, and more, so that your time can be spent on the things that are important to you,” Medina emphasizes.
Above all, he advises, “Don’t fall into a ‘trend trap.’ As an interior designer, I create homes that feel current yet timeless. It is a fine line to walk. Don’t get sucked into Pinterest and design a home that is too trendy. You won’t love it in two years.”
For more information on Jacob Medina Interior Design, visit jacob-medina.com.
This article appears in the April 2021 edition of OutSmart magazine.