Hello everyone! I was thinking how I’ve not interviewed anyone lately and how I should change that so today I’m chatting with the radiant LA-based interiors stylist Justina Blakeney who describes herself as a, “Creative free bird, a traveler, a jungalow-dwelling mom, a thrifter, a stylist, a designer and a merry-maker”, which I think just about sums her up beautifully! This vibrant, lovely lady and her beautiful blog has grabbed my attention over the years so I had to pin her down for a little chit chat. If you don’t know her, Justina has styled for editorial and commercial clients mostly in the United States ranging from shelter mags to books and she has over 1.2 million followers on Pinterest. Her global boho style is colorful and approachable and today we’re going to get inside of her head a little and see what makes this creative soul tick – we’ll talk about decorating, blogging and some of her favorite things. Are you ready?
decor8: Thanks for visiting us on decor8 today, Justina! Where do you live and where were you raised?
JB: I live in my plantastic Jungalow on the east side of Los Angeles. I was raised in Berkeley, California but lived abroad in Switzerland for two years as a teen-ager, and then spent seven years in Florence, Italy in my 20′s.
decor8: How much do you think living in Southern California affects your decorating style?
JB: My style is an amalgamation of the many of the places I’ve been, and the people I’ve grown up around. Being raised in a multi-racial family that loved to travel, our home was always filled with objects from all over the world: Hamsas and African masks, Ethiopian paintings and Mexican artifacts, Indonesian shadow puppets and Mexican textiles. My grandparents have lived in Los Angeles my whole life and I remember coming to visit them as a little girl. I was always in awe of LA’s palm trees. My grandmother had a tropical printed wallpaper all over their Ladera Heighs home and it stuck with me. SoCal also has so many cultural enclaves–did you know that Little Armenia, Thai Town, Little Ethiopia and Korea Town are all within a few miles of each other in LA? Seeing all of these diverse cultures, eating incredibly diverse foods, shopping in ethnic grocery stores–it all fuels my imagination wildly. I think in those ways I think SoCal has had a profound affect on my style.
decor8: How far back can you trace your passion for decorating?
JB: My big sister (who also grew up to be a designer) and I used to play with doll-houses a lot. I even built my own doll house in a carpentry class when I was ten. Playing around with the dollhouse was my first experience with decorating. I remember saving random pieces of paper we’d glue them to the walls for wallpaper. We also used to spend a lot of time rearranging the furniture in our bedrooms and painting and repainting our rooms–even building our own furniture pieces. We were super lucky to have parents who let us do what ever we wanted with our rooms and we experimented all the time—I would steal items from the livingroom and put them in my bedroom. I painted murals on my walls. My mother would take me to the fabric store and I made my own curtains and pillows. I loved to sew from a very young age. I remember distinctly the first curtains I made were these crazy mirrored curtains—almost like a disco ball. Very ‘80’s. Ha!
decor8: When did you start your blog and why?
JB: I started blogging in 2008 when I moved back to the U.S. after living in Italy for seven years. I had a series of craft books out and started the blog initially as a way to connect with readers and share news and DIY projects. I got really into it and started blogging more and more until I realized how much I really loved it–and made a commitment to myself to blog everyday as part of my creative practice–you know, like going to the gym or something. That was in 2009 and I haven’t looked back since.
decor8: What else do you do for work outside of blogging?
JB: People hire me as a creative consultant–that can mean anything from decorating and styling to art-directing, shopping and branding. Sometimes I get paid to craft pretty stuff out of crazy materials, and curate art works and wares–which is pretty great too. Basically, if it’s creative, fun and fresh, chances are, I’m down to work on it! I’m pretty nerdy so I geek out a lot with graphics and stuff, but the hands-on stuff is what I find the most fun.
decor8: How many daily readers do you have on your blog?
JB: Give or take 4,000 readers a day and growing more and more every month!
decor8: Do you find that Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter helps you reach people beyond the blog?
JB: I use Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram pretty religiously. I have met so many incredible people through social media–people that came to my wedding, that came to meet my daughter in the first days of her life–people that I hope will continue to be a part of my life for years to come. I get so much from it. I’m reaching a lot of people–and a lot of people are reaching me, too! (I use facebook for family and old-school friends, mostly.)
decor8: How do you grow your blog?
JB: I try lots of different things out on my blog–and I’m not a very regimented person, so my blog is not very regimented either (besides that I post something at least five days a week.) After I try something new, I use analytics to see which features are the most popular and I do more of that until I get bored—then I switch it up. I do my best to present an honest picture of who I am and I think (and hope!) my candor and sense of humor resonate with people, and when people genuinely like something, or find something inspiring, they tend to share it. Personal posts are very popular on my blog, as are my DIY posts. My large audience on Pinterest has also helped grow my blog. Collaborations with other designers and bloggers, for example my “Like She Said” series, is another way I grow my audience.
decor8: Do you have any other website or social network where you are also talking about design?
JB: I have been lucky enough to have contributed to quite a few sites around the web — from West Elm, to Martha Stewart and many others in between. I also have guest curated for a number of sites on Pinterest including Etsy and 1st Dibs. I can also be found on Houzz and Luvocracy, Tumblr and on Skillshare, as well. (Yikes! I’m kind of a social media whore. Hahaha!)
decor8: There are lots of amazing design bloggers where you live… Do you meet up regularly to connect or share blogging tips?
JB: Good question. I am very lucky to live in a place so packed with so many talented bloggers and designers. I do have quite a few blogger friends that I love hanging out with: Dabito from Old Brand New, Jessica Comingore, Satsuki Shibuya, Bonnie Tsang, Victoria Vu, Jon Lo, Joy Cho—to name a few — but mostly when we hang we end up talking about a million other things besides sharing blogging tips! Joy was enormously helpful and supportive throughout my pregnancy and still is a great friend to get mommy tips from. Bonnie and I end up talking about food all of the time… and Dabito and I always end up doing impromptu photo shoots when we hang — it’s hilarious. I had lunch with Emily Henderson and met her for the first time a couple of months ago and she’s a firecracker — I just adore her.
decor8: Is there someone else that helps you with your blog, or only you?
JB: Right now I’m pretty much a one woman show, besides my enormously talented friend, Caitlin Levin, who sometimes pops by to share her simple and delicious recipes with us.
decor8: What are your favorite topics to blog?
I like to switch it up a lot, but topics that are thought provoking or even kinda hard to talk about are fun to me. I love hearing what my readers think about, say, body issues, lack of cultural diversity represented in the design-blog universe and breast-feeding. I also love to share new ways of looking at things, whether it’s an upcycled object, turning instagram photos into imaginary wallpaper or transforming a Enoki mushroom into a pendant lamp — I have fun getting deep, kooky and being unpredictable! Oh, and I LOVE plants!
decor8: What can people really learn from bloggers that they can’t get from a magazine?
JB: I love that I can be TOTALLY real on my blog. And I am. I write what I want—when I want. I think that this is so important because in mass media and culture articles and editorials pass through so many eye balls, so much editing and so much pressure from publishers and advertisers. Because of this, I think that at times the soul can get sucked from the stories. Fashion magazines time and time again share the same, trite, old, standards of beauty — I’m REALLY sick of that. On my blog I can take the status quo and turn it upside down and give a voice to a minority (be it curvy ladies, people of color, people in underserved communitires…etc.) without worrying (or caring) if I’m alienating a large demographic. Often times, I think that people read through magazines and by the time they’re through they dislike themselves and their lives more than when they opened the magazine—because they are not thin enough, not rich enough, not interesting enough…I hope that on my blog, readers leave feeling inspired, empowered and like they love themselves a bit more than when they first landed in my Jungalow.
decor8: How do you define great personal style?
JB: To me, great style is confident, bold and unapologetic. It’s surprising, thought provoking and groundbreaking — it’s the authentic manifestation on the outside, of what’s happening on the inside.
decor8: Name some creative people who really inspire you…
JB: I’m inspired so much by people who are skilled craftspeople along with having a great eye and a unique perspective. This month, I’m crushing on Ariele Alasko of Brooklyn to West, Adam Pogue and Todd Selby also does it for me pretty much every time.
decor8: You use a lot of bold color in your posts – why is color in the home important to you?
JB: Color invigorates me. It really sets the tone in a space. I believe that color has an effect on people’s moods and can make you feel clean and fresh, or alive, or tired or cheerful or uneasy…it’s so important to get the color right because of the profound effect that it can have on quality of life.
decor8: What are some current trends that you really love?
JB: I love what I love and it doesn’t change so much with the trends. My style is pretty consistent regardless of what’s trending… But if I had to name a few things that I love and also happen to be kinda all over the place right now, I’d say brass finishes, Moroccan rugs, kilim pillows and textile arts, especially macramé.
decor8: What are some trends that really annoy you?
JB: Is it OK to say that all trends annoy me? Haha. No, but seriously, it annoys me when living things become trendy — like a certain kind of dog. Somehow the word trend to me connotes a disposable culture and that is bothersome when speaking of inanimate objects, but down right wrong when speaking of living things.
5 Quick Q’s:
decor8: Favorite color combination right now?
JB: Kelly Green and Brass
decor8: Favorite room to decorate?
JB: It changes all of the time, but right now my baby daughter’s room
decor8: Accessory that must be present at all times?
JB: My iphone! (is that what you meant?) if you mean home stuff—than PLANTS!
decor8: On your playlist you’re listening to…
JB: Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Zap Mama, Fleetwood Mac.
decor8: Stores that you love online?
JB: Plumo, Furbish Studio, ethanollie, Totokaelo.
decor8: What is your ultimate career goal – where would you love to be in 5 years?
JB: Let me confess first that I am a VERY ambitious person, probably almost to the point of being a little nuts, but that having been said…. I look at Jonathan Adler’s amazing career (of potter, designer, author, and personality with a home furnishing collection and boutiques) and I think to myself… THAT is where I want to be with my stuff (but it may take more like ten years!) ha! If, in five years though, I am still able to support myself and my family, work from home and collaborate with other inspiring creatives, blog and continue consulting, I won’t complain.
Justina thank you for hanging out with me today on decor8! So happy to have you and enjoy the weekend!
Readers if you have ANY questions for our lovely friend, Justina, please ask in the comments section below.
(images: styling- justina blakeney)
I am so honored to have Vosgesparis and snapshots from her lovely Amsterdam apartment on decor8 today! Vosgesparis is a decorating blog authored by blogger Desiree who I first featured on decor8 in 2011 (here). I met Desiree at a blogging event that I helped to organize in Amsterdam and stayed in touch with her ever since because I thought she was a really nice down-to-earth lady with a passion for living. I love her eye and taste and enjoy looking into her world because I find there is a lot to learn from those who have different decorating ideas. Since meeting Desiree, I have learned some great decorating ideas and have a much greater appreciation for black and white decor.
If you remember, this mini series called “Snapshots of Home” will appear sporadically over the next few months and is meant to highlight the beautiful homeowners behind some of the homes in my book, Decorate Workshop. In addition to crediting their homes and referring to them by name throughout the book, I thought to feature them in a fresh, new way by blogging about them too. So that is why I’m giving some shout outs to these amazing people.
Today I’m talking with the talented Desiree who is the queen of black and white decorating. And I don’t mean black and white with accent colors or black with different shades of white. I mean straight up black and white, period. This kind of restraint amazes me and I can sit for a long time staring at photos like the ones in this post blown away! I just had to have a house like Desiree’s in my book because it’s not only a big trend in Europe among bloggers to author black and white blogs but to also live in a black and white interiors, but because I think this whole way of decorating is so super cool and edgy. It’s fascinating and I love it! Let’s get started and talk to Desiree now, ok?
What do you do for a living?
I would love to say I blog full time, but I am not there yet! I have a part time job and I’m a part time blogger, too. I take blogging very seriously and have my own company as a blogger. I run ads on my blog and occasionally work for interior or lifestyle magazines online or in print. My other job is at a children’s health care center where I work with parents and young children. My work is all about connecting people — I give parents a place to go and meet other parents while their children learn to play and share their toys with each other. I am an observer and keep my eyes and ears open for all educational issues parents may have. I love the buzz of having children and young parents around. They give me energy!
What is your favorite thing about Amsterdam?
What I love most is that it is a really small city. We mostly use our bikes but in the city center you can easily walk from one part to another. I also love that there are many cool concept stores opening lately where they combine the work of young artists with home decoration and furniture and a coffee, tea or lunch corner.
What are 5 of your favorite shops in Amsterdam?
1. Harvest and company — Absolutely on top is ‘Harvest and company’. This is a project from a friend of mine… At Harvest they make, restore and sell (interior) products and they also gather there for meetings and dinners, roast and brew specialty coffee, host exhibitions, and work on interior projects. It has an amazing atmosphere that inspires, excites and feels comfortable.
2. Pols Potten – I pop in very often to drool over Paola Navona’s couches. What you see at Pols Potten is the result of their dedication to artists, designers and producers. I really like to walk around in this beautiful, sometimes strange, and yet so familiar world. It inspires me every time.
3. Sukha Amsterdam – This concept store changes the total look of the store from time to time and it is always a pleasure to have a peek at the big shop window and find out what’s new in the collection. At Sukha you will find fashion, books, accessories, presents and unique handmade products. I love the brightness in this open space and it feels really relaxed.
4. Marqt – A chain of bio super markets where I love to buy my groceries,
5. Options! - A concept store that works with changing themes. I have made it a habit to pop in now and then to see what is happening. Options is part of a concept, attached to the shop is a cafe called Stock and a fashion boutique hotel (Hotel Exchange).
What is your passion and what inspires you?
I want people to understand that you do not need to be perfect or to have the perfect home to be happy. I want them to see the beauty of imperfection. Happiness is something inside you that you can get out of lots of different things. I think it is the best feeling ever if you can stand still for a second and realize you are feeling totally happy inside.
What are some favorite things in your home currently?
My absolute favorite item in my home is my clothes rack. I designed it some years ago and got a blacksmith to make it for me. I also recently changed the wall with the low cabinets, the one on picture at the intro page in Decorate Workshop. I get many questions on how I made them and see others doing the same thing and although that is a compliment, I realize now that it’s time for something different. Instead of the big black and white frames I used the back of simple canvas frames to exposure a few pictures, instead.
What are some dream items you’d love to own?
I really would love to have the white Ghost sofa by my design hero Paola Navone! I love the way she decorates her home in Paris and Milan. But there is more: A small industrial cart as a coffee table and another bamboo lamp from Ay Illuminate and maybe some new chairs around my kitchen table, the white About a Chair from HAY being one of them.
What do you think of Decorate Workshop?
First of all I really love the fact that this book is written by a blogger! Every time a blogger comes out with a book it feels like a little celebration to bloggers in general. And of course I love the fact my home is featured in this book because with my own blog I try to inspire my readers and I hope the pictures of my home among all others will inspire the readers of Decorate Workshop. But more important the book is a guide for both those who are planning to change little things in their home and to those who can start from zero with a new home.
Is this your first time in a book?
My home and blog have been mentioned and shown in several magazines but never in a book until now. Seeing your home in a book is really something else. A magazine you might find occasionally half a year later at the hairdresser or dentist but a book like Decorate Workshop will stay on display for years.
What are some memories you have of my visit to your home with Debi Treloar?
I remember the first thing you did when entering my home was taking off your shoes and putting on some comfortable shoes – this made me feel like you felt at home. It was fun to see you and Debi working together and sometimes I wondered why you styled certain things in a particular way but. now that the book is published and I have seen the pictures of my home it all falls into place. It shows you were working with a clear vision towards the final result that you had for your book!
What is one of your favorite photos of your home from the book?
I think it is the opening shot of the book (very proud of that), shown below!
What do you love about interiors books in general?
The visual aspect! I love to look and analyze pictures and interior books are great for that. I often display them and it inspires me, while looking at the pictures I can be caught by a detail and create new ideas for my own home.
What about magazines and blogs, what do you love about them the most?
What I love most in magazines are the home stories — reading how people found their dream home or how they renovated their place, how they live and what inspires them. Some homes you never forget and remain my favorite for many years. I also love it when bloggers write about their own homes and show photos of little corners they re-decorated.
What are some of your favorite blogs and magazines?
I really love Scandinavian blogs, Emmas designblogg is one I’ve been reading for many years and I love Pella Hedeby’s blog Stil Inspiration because our decorating tastes are very similar. My favorite magazines are vtwonen and Elle Decoration.
Desiree is was such a pleasure spending time with you today, thank you so much!
Thank you Holly ;) XXXX
(photos: vogesparis and debi treloar)
I had a nice email exchange today with lovely Pippa Jameson, who is a stylist living in England who works from her office in Shoreditch, London with whom I’ve known of for some time now. She so graciously allowed me to use some beautiful photographs from her portfolio so you could see some of her work today. Pippa (love her name!) has been an interior stylist for over 14 years with an impressive client list, she has worked in television, advertising, magazines, books and film. She was the Deputy Interiors Editor for BBC Good Homes Magazine but now she is a freelance stylist for magazines and advertising; including brochures, online and large campaigns as well as commercials and more recently some presenting. She also writes a fabulous blog which you can see here.
Ah. White wooden floors, that gorgeous mid century sofa, the sisal rug, those shutters… Very pretty.
More shutters, this time in white, pretty bottles, a tiny flower arrangement for color… Perfect bathroom accessories.
This bed is gorgeous, I imagine this would be a most perfect summer cottage hideaway. I can see myself vacationing here, it’s very summery. I love the blooms sprinkled around the room in random bottles, including an Arizona Ice Tea bottle – so simply yet so pretty.
This looks very soft and romantic. A nice touch for an outdoor picnic – a decorative tin with napkins and utensils inside along with a very sprigs of fresh flowers.
I adore this sofa, complete with the black legs and wheels and that darling ruffle. It reminds me of the sofa I once saw in Real Simple magazine years ago, and pinned, here. I wonder who makes it?
Okay so I asked Pippa few questions that I thought you may be interested in knowing about, especially for those out there who have an interest in styling.
What are some current interiors trends that you love?
I love the bright patterns that we are seeing at the moment. A good example of this is the Jonathan Saunders’ William Morris-inspired prints in turquoise, coral and leaf green that were seen at London Fashion Week. I also love the bohemian/tribal look.
Spot any trends on the horizon that we should look for?
Bold colours will continue to prevail right through into 2012, bright orange, red and cobalt blue – and don’t be afraid to mix them up! Nature will continue to translate into fashion and interiors, especially birds and butterflies. Texture and Eco will also be key.
What should every good stylist have?
You need to have a decent tool kit which includes all of the essentials, especially gaffa and double sided tape!
What is the key to breaking in to interior styling as a career?
Passion and perseverance. It’s really important to show initiative, I always advise people who contact me with no experience to start collating a folder of images that inspire them so that they can start to recognise and determine their own interior style. This folder will create a good foundation for possible assisting work.
Do you have favorite interior stylists, if so, who?
I think Atlanta Bartlett and Lucyina Moodie are both extremely talented.
What are some of your favorite London interiors shops?
I think Liberty has to be one of my all time favourites, not only for the fabrics but the building itself. I could spend all day there.
What do you love about styling?
I love the variety of work and the fact that I can earn a living doing something that makes me really happy. I feel very lucky to have a true passion in life that I can fulfill. The job can be such hard work, emotional and physically, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
If you have any additional questions for Pippa, please ask her in the comments section below. :)
(images: with permission from pippa jameson)
If you didn’t catch that, you must check it out. I have to quote Deborah for just a moment because I love how she defines what she thinks makes a truly stylish person. I think it shakes up the typical impression one has when they think of successful New York stylist, writer, designer… I once only imagined ruthless and pretentious types (ha ha Hollywood films and television series didn’t help!) but Domino did a great job of bringing in those who possessed genuine passion for the magazine and decorating vs. those who simply had talent for design and a massive attitude problem. Domino had heart and soul.
Natalie asked Deborah who inspires her and she replied so perfectly, “People with great style who live easily and happily with it. Many seemingly stylish people are pretty awful — fussy and uptight. But I am interested in style that is expansive, that makes lives more beautiful and the people in your life happier. This goes back I guess to the team we put together at domino: I am really inspired by many of the people there like Rita Konig, Dara Caponigro, Sara Costello, Stella Bugbee. I am also really inspired by women who are focused, smart and accomplish a lot while never becoming one of those scary businesswomen, if that makes any sense.”
I also love her thoughts on how she created a strong team and how she views that as her proudest career achievement. “It was a collection of the most talented, wonderful, kind and hilarious people ever. We never made a space for someone who might have been gifted but was difficult or tricky.” Truly great words!
The above photo was shown first in the NYTimes in 2007, you simply must view her home tour there if you didn’t see that already.
(images: deborah needleman, her home in NYC)