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About the company

Stewarding Forward

Transitions are thrilling - AND terrifying. Letting go of the places and things we love can be a heartache. I know that as well as anyone having moved many times over the years. Through these life transitions, I’ve learned the fine art of rightsizing and how to create spaces that fit just right, and feel good. Sharing that expertise and serving others is the genesis for Department of Better. 

Design at the Core

In the process of paring down and creating fresh spaces that fit your aesthetic and functional needs, the Department of Better team considers your emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. That’s simply good design. You and your family are at the center of every conversation. Our staff creates and implements your transition plan with reverence for your pacing, your things, and your legacy. 

Meet our team


Hilary Jay is an award-winning journalist, designer, and a veteran educator. She co-founded Maximal Art - an international costume jewelry and watch company - where she was chief designer alongside John Wind. Her accessories can be found in the permanent collections of London's Victoria + Albert Museum, Paris' Musée des Arts Decoratifs, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

 “After decades working as a journalist, curator, educator, and designer, I founded Department of Better to help people create spaces that feel good, look great, and function exactly as needed.”

Hilary’s writing has appeared in Metropolitan Home, More, ID magazine, Galerie, and Arts + Antiques, in addition to the Philadelphia Inquirer Sunday Magazine which featured her weekly column on interiors, architecture, design, and gardens. 


She was chief curator of the Paley Design Center at Philadelphia University. She co-founded DesignPhiladelphia, the first American design festival, which became the business model for others across the United States. Hilary has taught professional practices and design business courses at the college level, and led international design conferences and workshops. She regularly speaks on the fine art of living well.

Hilary Jay
Founder + Managing Director

Ilene Griff
Design Projects Manager

Ilene is a veteran graphic designer whose long career includes designing for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Flower Show, Philadelphia Magazine’s marketing department, and Evantine Design’s event production team. From her art school training and long association with art museums and galleries, Ilene brings an intuitive use of color and space, plus professional expertise to creating floor plans and implementation schedules for our clients. Her empathetic and patient approach to getting things done makes working with Ilene a delight.


Carla Bednar
Project Manager

Carla brings a keen eye and methodical disposition to her work as an artist, designer, educator, and curator. Her career includes time as a K-12 and college arts educator, exhibition director for the City Government Center in Harrisburg, PA, and arts program coordinator for the Philadelphia Education Fund. Carla’s Violette de Mazia Foundation fellowship at the Barnes Foundation led to curatorial stewardship of 200,000 institutional textiles at The Design Center at Philadelphia University, where she served as Assistant Director. Coverage of her work has appeared in Museum, Metropolis, The New York TimesT” magazine, Elle Canada, Art Matters, Surface Design, FiberArts, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and CBS Sunday Morning.

Janet Barag
Project Manager

Janet’s first transition management experience came in 2018 moving her mother from the family home to an independent living community. A serial entrepreneur and life-long organizer, Janet honed the art of customer service in her floral and home décor importing company, and later creating stress-free vacation experiences in beach properties that she styled, maintained and managed.  To raise funds for Outward Bound Janet rappelled down a 30-story building. She’s a fearless problem-solver who approaches all her projects with respect for both the clients and their cherished belongings.

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