Columbus Designers’ and Architects’ Favorite Home Spaces

Jonathan Moody, Jaimee Parish, Peggy Smith and Andrew Miller talk about space.

Paige Swope
Jonathan Moody in his home office

Inspired by the Community 

Jonathan Moody likes seeing a project’s vision fulfilled. 

As a youngster, Jonathan Moody was not sure if he wanted to be an architect. After all, his father, Curt, was legendary in the business, forming his first firm in 1982 and then merging with another local firm to create Moody Nolan, which has grown to be a powerhouse in the industry. Based in Columbus, it is the largest African American owned and managed architectural firm in the country. 

It was after Jonathan left Columbus and went away for college that his own passion for the field was ignited during an introduction to architecture course. He spent five years at Cornell getting a bachelor’s degree and one year at UCLA obtaining his master’s degree. He then stayed on the West Coast to work as an architect in Los Angeles for about four years. 

Eventually, Jonathan moved home to join Moody Nolan, which had grown to include 12 offices around the country and more than 200 employees. The firm has many notable projects found throughout the country ranging from sports arenas to libraries to convention centers and more. 

A decade after returning to Columbus, Jonathan was named CEO of the firm in January 2020. In November, Moody Nolan received the 2021 Firm of the Year Award from the American Institute of Architects, the most prestigious award given in the U.S. for architecture. For Jonathan Moody, it was a good way to wrap up the year. 

Today, Jonathan says his inspiration for design comes from gaining a clear understanding of the needs of a community. Having a deeper understanding regarding a building’s intention helps the firm connect to the culture or the brand that is being promoted. 

Moody Nolan does a lot of upfront research on each project, creating a collection of values and ideas that will shape a building’s design. He mentions the Martin Luther King branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library—which Moody Nolan completed in 2018—as a place that not only connects people to resources but to the surrounding community as well. 

While many of the firm’s projects are commercial, architects dabble in residential work as well. “We have done a number of single-family homes and community developments,” explains Jonathan. “Right now, with so many people working from home, the line … has been blurred. More and more people want to be more efficient and sustainable regarding their space.” 

In his own house, Moody has developed a work-from-home space using recycled materials from his past. He repurposed his desk from his Los Angeles apartment and one of his computer monitors is repurposed from a television his wife used in a previous home. He purchased a chair and stand-up desk to add more flexibility to his space. With so many people working from home this year, a designated workspace is crucial, especially when a house is filled with other family members, as well. 

Moody is like other successful architects when it comes to having extraordinary vision coupled with an abundance of patience. Being an architect means you really don’t see the result of your work for months, or years, after its initial design. For Moody, the favorite moment in each design project is seeing the final product. 

“I think when the project moves from an object to something that is being used, it is a very exciting transition,” he says. “It becomes what people associate with the idea of a home or a community. The building now becomes a background for life as it brings people together.” 

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the library branch that Moody Nolan designed.

Jamee Parish in the remodeled kitchen in her Clintonville home

Looking for Clues to Renovation 

Architect Jamee Parish has wanted to design homes since she was a child. 

Since the time she was around 5 years old, Jamee Parish knew that she wanted to design houses. Eventually, she attended Ohio State University for her undergraduate and graduate degrees, and started her own company in 2013. 

Whether Jamee Parish Architects is designing a custom home or a new addition to an existing house, the company’s namesake takes inspirational cues from drawings of older homes. She and her husband reside in an 1,800-square-foot Clintonville home that was built in 1928. Her husband, a commercial architect, worked with her to remodel and redesign their space. 

“Houses inherently have things about them that give you clues about how they can be improved,” says Parish. “You have to pay attention to what would work with the house and what would not.” 

One of the favorite spaces in her own home is Parish’s kitchen, which underwent a significant remodel. “Our existing kitchen was shut off from the rest of the spaces, so we enlarged the kitchen,” she says. “We wanted … to feel like it had always been there, and have it function and connect the house in a modern way.” 

Parish says they did not want the kitchen to overwhelm the rest of the house but rather to enhance its character by using similar colors and design aesthetics. The tiles used in the kitchen are custom modern subway tiles with an etched, handmade tile. Both were purchased from Classico Tile and Marble in Grandview. 

The couple worked with Custom Cabinets to design cabinetry to maximize the available space. Soapstone countertops are from Modlich Stoneworks, on the West Side. The island is custom created to resemble a piece of furniture, creating a unique look for the space. This is Parish’s favorite feature of the entire update. 

Designer Peggy Smith in the living room of her home

Appreciating a European Flair 

Interior design sage Peggy Smith enjoys cozy comfort at home. 

While Peggy Smith, an interior designer, was shopping for a client at Howard Brooks Interiors, she got a job offer that would last her a lifetime. She has been with Howard Brooks Interiors for more than 40 years and still remembers that initial conversation with Brooks. 

“I never thought about going to work for somebody else, but after several phone calls, Howard was very persuasive, I ended up taking the job with him,” she says. Eventually, she was promoted to manager and held that title for 17 years. In 2005, Smith and her husband purchased the store and, in 2018, they relocated it from Worthington Hills to the Worthington Mall. 

Smith explains that when she is working on a home, the house and the client set the stage for her inspiration. “My job is to make the home reflect the personality of the people who live there and give them the finest things within their budget,” she says. 

The Smiths built their own Worthington Hills home 43 years ago and each room is designed with a specific aesthetic in mind. The multi-functional family room is where the couple spends most of their time. 

It includes a television and several different reading nooks. The room has “European influences” with walls made of wood, providing an intentional design that brings in a warm and comforting vibe. The use of mixed patterns and textures has always been common in English design, Smith says, and she’s incorporated that technique in this room, too. 

With mixed patterns re-emerging as a leading trend, she instructs that multiple patterns and colors in one room should complement each another, although they don’t need to perfectly match. One of her favorite aspects of the room is the needlepoint artwork that hangs on its walls. Needlepoint is not as easy to find today; thus, she appreciates its uniqueness.

Andrew Miller in his Upper Arlington home

Creating a Story with a Home’s Aesthetics

Entrepreneurial designer Andrew Miller launches a firm. 

Initially, Andrew Miller wanted to work in health care because he enjoys helping others. But eventually he realized that being a creatively artistic person was a gift that could also enable him to help other people. 

Ten years ago, Miller began his interior design career as an assistant to the head designer of a firm in Indianapolis. Later, he arrived in Columbus to work in various facets of the industry, sourcing design and construction for L Brands and then being a designer at the former Restoration Hardware, now known has RH, at Easton. 

This year he is bringing together his design skills to upstart his firm, calling it Tru Grit Design. Miller focuses on a range of projects from transitional interiors to outdoor patios from farmhouse chic to modern minimalist and more. 

In his Upper Arlington home, Miller has created a calm and welcoming aesthetic. “The entry should be able to tell a story when you walk into someone’s home,” he says. His Arlington space makes a bold statement. Its wallpaper uses colors called golden bee and navy. The golden bee is a symbol of luck and prosperity, he explains. Certainly, his timing is right on cue. 

“In these times right now, it is nice to have a fresh update to your home,” he says. The nearby dining room is kept neutral with whites and blacks, accented with olive green and velvet drapery. Miller designed this space, along with his partner Matt Coultrip, who leads Abercrombie & Fitch’s global store design team. 

Miller shopped locally at Elm and Iron, as well as Trove, for the space. Some of the décor is also from Grandview Mercantile. 

Additionally, he and his partner have brought some family heirlooms back to life for their space—a practice he encourages with his clients, too. “Aesthetically, I like to bring in a mix of new and modern farmhouse mixed with vintage,” Miller explains.