The Team

When you walk into a home, there’s a story unfolding before you. The photos on the walls, accessories on the side table and handmade throw blanket draped over the sofa are all chapters that tell a story to those who enter. As Washington, D.C. + St. Simons interior designers, we believe that home should be a sanctuary that feels like you.

It should also be a place where you can be yourself. That’s why, for more than a decade, we’ve worked with clients from all walks of life to deliver a design that captures the essence of who they are and what makes them feel “at home.”

Although we’re Washington, D.C., interior designers, our own story began at the University of Florida in 2006. That was the setting where our design firm’s founders, Jessica Centella and Kiera Kushlan, met while studying interior design. They shared the same vision of bringing a fresh perspective to the world of interior design, a view that a personalized approach to design can and should capture the essence of who you are.  

In 2009, Jessica and Kiera moved to Washington, D.C., and established Residents Understood a year later.  Entrepreneurs at heart, they’re proud to have built a female-owned company from the ground up. In their decade of experience as Washington, D.C., interior designers, Jessica and Kiera have served hundreds of clients. They’ve also expanded to serve St. Simons, Ga. The team itself has grown, too, with Jessica and Kiera hiring their husbands, Josh (architectural consultant) and Mike (director of operations). Their families have also expanded to include three children and two dogs, who have taught them a lot about functional design. Together, they celebrate milestones, travel the world (pre-COVID), and constantly dream of what will come next.

Over the years, Washington, D.C., interior designers Jessica and Kiera have learned to blend various tastes, styles, personalities, and experiences into a cohesive design palette. The spaces they create are meant to be lived in, not just admired from afar.

Each of us has a unique story to tell. Does your home tell yours? We can help.


    Hailing from the Sunshine State and thriving best in balmy weather, co-founder Jessica leads the creative team and works with clients to put their design dreams onto paper and see them through to their photo-ready finish.

    JESS’ STYLE: “I am most at home in spaces that exude a casual elegance, filled with pieces and details that are collected from a variety of styles and periods.”


    Known for navigating her way through many a real estate listing (or complicated reality TV storyline), Kiera also leads the creative team. She works alongside clients to bring their design stories to life. A native of Southeast Ohio, Kiera brings a blend of business savviness and creative interior design to the firm’s repertoire.

    KIERA’S STYLE: I gravitate toward spaces that pair tailored neutrals with bold patterns and pops of color. Indeed, I have a love — that borders on obsession — for anything black and white.”


    You’ll most likely find Josh donning shorts and armed with a decadent cocktail recipe, but he’s the firm’s very own Le Corbusier (an internationally influential Swiss-born French architect), responsible for all-things architecture for our clients. From technical drawings and permits to managing renovation projects, Josh has the experience and knowledge to overcome construction challenges and bring our clients design dreams to fruition.

    JOSH’S STYLE: Nothing worthwhile ever comes from being neutral, in life or in design. I gravitate toward architectural design that feels original and unexpected. Choose a side — and make it a bold one.”


    An aspiring golf pro, Mike is all about the long game and logistics. At work, he trades his 9-iron golf club for spreadsheets and to-do lists. He manages communications with prospective clients and assists our current ones through the purchasing process.

    MIKE’S STYLE: “I’m most drawn to spaces that feel authentic and respect their surroundings, regardless of the style at play.”


    Our newest department at Residents Understood, the kids design division is led by William. The captain of the group, he loves collaborating on designs with his younger brother, Sutton, and their best friend, Graham. The team’s specialties include pillow forts, bed trampolines, and covering surfaces with interpretive handmade art.

    THE BOYS’ STYLE: “We love pieces that are tough, don’t mind having a variety of substances on them, but still manage to look good. Oh, they also probably need to be machine washable.”


    Our finest example of blending unique stories is the friendship between 10-year-old, sun-loving Ray (a Boston terrier, poodle, and who knows what else) and 14.5-year-old squirrel-chasing Copeland (a black lab, also unknown-mixed pup). The two are both rescue dogs from the same Alachua County Animal Shelter in Florida. Like Jess and Kiera, Ray and Copeland could not be more different, but have become lifelong friends.

    PUP’S STYLE: “We enjoy soft rugs to roll on and bright open spaces to lounge in the sun.”