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Corey Damen Jenkins Says: Wait to Paint, Wallcovering Comes First!

Hear about his design journey from cold-calling to becoming a top designer who uses luxury wallcovering.

Corey Damen Jenkins Says: Wait to Paint, Wallcovering Comes First!

For Black History Month this year, we're digging into our video archives to showcase some of our most inspiring interviews with Black designers. 

At the top of the list is the charming and always fashionable, Corey Damen Jenkins. This ELLE Decor A-list and AD100 designer (and former HGTV star!) has quickly risen to the top of the design world and constantly inspires us. We're thrilled he continues to feature Phillip Jeffries wallcoverings in his projects. Not to mention, he had the best design tip that never fails: "Wait to paint. Wallcovering comes first!”

In August 2021 when Corey first launched his MasterClass on Interior Design, he joined us on Instagram Live from the Phillip Jeffries New York showroom to talk about his career, moving his design business to NYC, his colorful take on modern design, and how he imagined using wallcoverings from Phillip Jeffries latest collections.

Here's a recap from our chat with Corey:

Above, Lacquered Walls shines in custom blue in the multi-functional dining room above while Coffered Wood adds dimension to a cozy resting spot.

From fabulous showhouses to charity galas and private clients, Corey's use of color and patterns always WOWs. His designs elevate rooms and residences to superstar interiors, but he didn't start out in design even though it's been a passion for him since he was young. 

A Detroit native, Corey was always interested in design. “I always wanted to pursue interior design. I was four years old and moving furniture around, but my dad was much more practical, and he encouraged me to pursue business and finance, so I worked at the one of the Big Three for about ten years.”

After he was laid off in 2007, Corey took a chance and entered the design world, first as a stock boy for the Michigan Design Center before he decided to launch his own design firm. He decided to knock on 800 doors to get his first client or call it quits and wait out the recession. After cold-calling in affluent Detroit neighborhoods and enduring being chased by dogs, insults, and walking in the middle of winter, he stumbled upon his first client: an anesthesiologist and his wife at door #779.

“And two weeks later HGTV cast me on my first television show,” he said. Corey went on to win to the HGTV competitive series Showhouse Showdown.

"I'm very grateful for the team there at Scripps. I have a lot of love for the team there at HGTV," said Cory. "And actually my MasterClass producer unearthed some footage from the series for my MasterClass curriculum."

Now Corey is on top of the world and he’s not slowing down anytime soon. As mentioned, Corey released a series of interior design classes for MasterClass in addition to his own book called Design Remix: A New Spin on Traditional Rooms that he published with Rizzoli. He has also recently created two furniture collections with Maitland-Smith and Hancock & Moore, a fabric collection with Kravet Couture, and an artwork series with Leftbank Art.

Phillip_Jeffries_Wood_Veneer_Wallcovering_Lacquered_WallsA master at mixing patterns, colors and textures, Corey infuses an entryway in a historic home in Summit, NJ, with a colorful update featuring Yacht Club, a Phillip Jeffries wood veneer wallcovering.

Corey gathers design inspiration from the fashion world. "I look at the fashion runway, couture fashion, The MET Gala," he said. "I follow Jean Paul Gaultier, Balmain, Elie Saab, and Valentino. Obviously, he’s a huge influence on my work."

Corey also applauded embracing jewel tones and recommended using them in unconventional ways to achieve his classically modern style. For the Kips Bays Decorator Show House in 2019, he selected Philip Jeffries Totally Tatami wallcovering in Enlightened Emerald for an area that people often forget about: The back of built-in bookshelves.

“When you have this beautiful Phillip Jeffries wallcovering on the back of the shelves, it has this beautiful jewel toned moment with gold piping through it," said Corey. "And it makes all of the art and the books around it just sing.”

After seeing a few new collections in the Phillip Jeffries showroom, Corey revealed his design ideas. “I would love to see the Styled In Studs in emerald green and gold,” he said. “But I would do two wallcoverings in one room with Haiku [a large-scaled floral mural] wrapped on the ceiling and then Styled In Studs as the classic geometric element on the walls.”  

Another new abstract mural, Offset, brought Jenkins back to his love of fashion. “I love it. It’s very Miranda Priestly, Devil Wears Prada. She would wear that to the MET Gala.”

Everywhere Corey goes, he brings a positive, creative energy and endless inspiration. Thanks for stopping by our showroom!

To see the full interview, please click the video below. 

Photos courtesy of Andrew Frasz, George Ross, and Marco Ricca.

About Phillip Jeffries:

Now in its fourth decade, Phillip Jeffries has emerged as the industry leader in natural, textured and specialty wallcoverings. A manufacturer and importer of unique and fine quality textured wallcoverings, the company was founded in 1976 with just 10 grasscloths. From the humble beginnings of the family garage, Phillip Jeffries now stocks more than 1,000 ready-to-ship wallcoverings in their 60,000+ square foot headquarters. Working hand-in-hand with skilled artisans, Phillip Jeffries creates the design world's most beautiful and sought-after wallcoverings. For more information,