One of life’s valued pleasures is walking into your home and feeling love, joy and peace. Whether that home is a studio apartment, bungalow or townhouse, Jake and Jazz Smollett transform their client’s surroundings into a masterpiece of style. Their new CLEO TV show, “LIVING BY DESIGN WITH JAKE AND JAZZ,” presents simple solutions that incorporate the personal tastes of their millennial guests.
“I think living by design is living with authenticity. Your home should really reflect who you are,” says Jazz Smollett who hosts the 30-minute program with her brother Jake. In his view, the show demonstrates how to make your home a sanctuary on a limited budget. “This is affordable design. Most of the places are really small,” Jake says. “They are examples of how lifestyle is going to change for Millennials and Gen X people who don’t have $100,000 to spend on their homes.”
Home Grown Creativity
The Smolletts’ passion and talent for making living spaces warm and welcoming are homegrown. They speak fondly of growing up with their parents and four siblings in a home where family and friends enjoyed spending time together.
“There was always this sense of our home being an inviting place that was fun and full of love. We always remember our mom making our home special,” Jake says.
The music, laughter and good food were not things their mom spent a lot of money on to entertain guests. They describe her as a goddess who made the most out of what the family had. She taught them how to build furniture and construct decorations. “I asked her why she started making things. She said, ‘I wanted that, but I couldn’t afford it.’ So, she made it,” says Jazz.
While his sister’s specialty in the family was planning parties, Jake spent time learning woodwork from his mom. “I remember the dining room table mom made. We would build furniture together. She was completely self-taught,” says Jake.
The co-host of this lifestyle series now sells some of his work to private clients. He also designs and builds individual pieces for each of the guests on the show.
Finding the Right Fit
Before Jake or Jazz begin working on how they are going to tell a story that reveals who lives in the spaces that need refurbishing. They get to know the guest, find out what they need and what they like as far as color and design. “We ask what can we do to maximize their space and then we look at their furniture. We start with the large pieces and figure out how to make the most of what they have and what else they need,” Jazz says.
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The brother and sister duo design for everyday, working people, whether it is a single professional or a couple with children. Their clients want homes that function better or come alive with a little drama and individuality. Jazz describes their work as design defined by “culture, passion and personality.”
That includes figuring out what piece Jake will build for each show. In the premiere episode that aired May 4, the two revitalized the studio apartment of a young publicist. Jake made Meghan a custom headboard, and Jazz added pops of pink and bold accent pieces to the apartment. “We want to feel, touch and breathe our spaces. We have a certain passion that hasn’t been represented,” says Jazz.
CLEO TV Unique Experience
The show on TV One’s new network gives Jake and Jazz unique opportunities that were not offered in previous television appearances. The Smollett siblings did six episodes of the series “Smollett Eats” on the Food Network in 2016. Currently, Jake is a resident chef on “The Rachel Ray Show” as well as an actor and content creator. Jazz is also a content producer, lifestyle expert and cook who most recently worked as the producer of the behind-the-scenes content for the film “Little.”
Working on CLEO TV gives Jake and Jazz their first opportunity to focus the content of their show on Millennial or Gen X women of color. For Jazz, it means letting viewers see the depth of creativity and style of one’s culture. “It’s really exciting for us. It’s not just the talent on the show but the guests and the ability to bring in cultural diversity,” Jazz says.
Jake and Jazz have created several businesses together and worked behind the scenes on the same productions. This is the first time the two of them have hosted a show jointly. It’s another opportunity CLEO TV offers and Jake says they are grateful to be doing what they love. “I think it’s criminal how much fun we have,” says Jake. “It sounds mushy, but Jazz is my best friend. We talk every day.”
Sometimes, those talks can become a tug of war as they hammer out ideas. So, what does Jazz enjoy about it? “I think the creative process, the fighting it out until we come up with the best solution.”
Smollett’s Bring Hospitality Home
The brother and sister get to do more than solve design dilemmas on their CLEO TV show. They bring home the entire concept of hospitality by also planning and preparing a special meal for the show’s guests. The client’s family and friends join in the celebration as the Smollett’s lifestyle improvements are revealed. “It’s not often that you watch a lifestyle show and have a chance to see design tips and have a meal. There are a lot of different moving parts to the show,” Jake says.
The menu on the first episode included surf and turf tacos, rosé margaritas and brown sugar donuts. Jake and Jazz both learned to love cooking growing up in a family of eight hungry people to feed. “We started cooking out of necessity and food was always an important part of our lives. My mom is from New Orleans and we are foodies,” says Jazz.
The Smolletts hope viewers of their series get inspiration from the design ideas and fabulous recipes each of the 16 episodes present in the first season of the show. Jazz wants everyone to grasp the importance of letting individuality shine. “You can go on different design blogs, but at the end of the day, it has to be tailored to your personality, so you don’t end up with a bunch of stuff and don’t know what to do with it.”
Jake wants to encourage viewers to find new treasures in old things. “I love to refurbish stuff. My garage is full of things that I can bring back to life. I’m a big believer that old is new when you take the time to refurbish.”
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Together, the brother and sister are putting their hearts and souls into their new show. Both the guests and the viewers can benefit from the creative energy flowing into revitalized spaces. “I hope seeing so many types of people represented, they will feel like I can do that too,” says Jazz. “They have a piece of my heart. I hope they continue to be inspired by their spaces.” Jake is excited about clients and the audience learning the value in living by design. “Living by design means living your best life. You get one life to live, and you should live it to the fullest.”
The show, “LIVING BY DESIGN WITH JAKE AND JAZZ,” airs Saturdays at 12 p.m. in the eastern time zone and is available on Comcast Xfinity and Charter Spectrum in various markets, as well as Philo. You can also watch the episodes on CLEO TV’s website.
Follow Jake on social media (Twitter and Instagram) and online at www.jakesmollett.com. Check in on Jazz on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. You can also grab the show's recipes for these shrimp and steak tacos and brown sugar doughnuts in our recipe section.