The Workweek Diary of a Plant-Loving Home Décor Guru | Press "Enter" to skip to content

The Workweek Diary of a Plant-Loving Home Décor Guru

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“The home is not a static place,” the home décor maven Justina Blakeney said, reflecting on the importance of design in our living spaces. “Your home needs to grow and change as you grow and change. It can support you, if you put your mind to it.”

For a decade, Ms. Blakeney, 41, has preached the gospel of infusing your home with good vibes, thoughtful intentions, and lots and lots of plants. Vibrant splashes of color, mix-and-match layers of punchy patterns, and nods to nature are all key to her maximalist aesthetic. She has incorporated those elements into her lifestyle brand Jungalow, which features duvets, throw pillows and wallpaper, as well as loungewear and accessories. The Los Angeles-based designer has also collaborated with such brands as Keds, Anthropologie and Band-Aid, always adding her own hand-drawn and painted artwork or her penchant for eclectic, globally inspired designs. But this year, she viewed design a little differently; it was about more than just jewel-toned mosaic tiles and palm fronds arranged just so.

“People are spending a lot more time at home then they are used to,” she said. “When you are in the same space day in and day out, little by little, you start to realize how much shifting the energy in your home and putting some effort and love into creating a home that works for you can really be a life-changing endeavor.

“What it comes down to, is really being able to understand, then channel what it is that lights you up and lifts you up.”

In October, Target tapped Ms. Blakeney as a Home Style Expert, a role in which she’ll offer seasonal home refresher tips. In April, she’ll debut her third book, “Jungalow: Decorate Wild,” which follows her 2015 best seller, “The New Bohemians” and its 2017 companion, “The New Bohemians Handbook.” “It’s a little bit memoir-y and a little bit retrospective-y,” she said of the new book, which reveals how her ancestry and international travels have informed her style, and guides readers toward taking a similar autobiographical approach to decorating.

We spoke to Ms. Blakeney in early December, as she began her next design project: making over her “Jungalow by the Mountain,” a Northeast Los Angeles Spanish-style house that she and her family will soon call home.

Interviews are conducted via email, text and phone, then condensed and edited.

6 a.m. Wake up, feed Couscous the kitty, then set my intentions for the day, a mental exercise where I channel the type of energy I’m trying to call in for the day.

7 a.m. Soak in the Jacuzzi, then take an outdoor shower while I listen to the morning news. It’s such a cleansing experience, with the sunshine and the fresh air, that I feel really clean and energized afterward.

8 a.m. Bike with my 9-year-old daughter, Ida, to Spoke Bicycle Cafe to get coffee and pastries to bring home for breakfast.

9:30 a.m. Over Zoom, I review the finished set design for an upcoming photo shoot. It’s a bedroom setup for a collection we’re launching in June. My notes are: “More plants, please. That’s the vibe!” Then, I finish designing specs for a new lamp collection and send them off to the factory.

12:30 p.m. Catch up with my licensing agent. When I take phone calls that don’t require me sitting in front of the computer, I like walking meetings. They allow me to stretch my legs while also noticing the small changes in my neighborhood. “Look, the persimmon tree is fruiting! The maple tree’s leaves were yellow last week, now they’re red …” Observing nature fuels my creativity.

2 p.m. I get down on some yummy butternut squash soup my husband, Jason, cooked for lunch, then I help Ida out with one of her distant learning assignments for school. Estamos practicando español.

4:15 p.m. Sort and edit images for my blog and social media shares featuring the “before” photos of our new home. We closed last week!

5 p.m. I go over samples, prop selection and delivery dates for a product shoot with my project manager. We’ll be shooting a living room, bedroom and bathroom, all with products that we designed. Coordinating sample deliveries during Covid is especially complicated because we’re not in our studio regularly and delivery schedules are unpredictable.

7 p.m. Finish and publish my latest blog post. For about eight years, I blogged every single day. I wouldn’t overthink things; I just posted about anything that caught my eye. So much of that happens on Instagram now, so I only blog when I have a longer story to tell, or a major milestone to share.

8 p.m. I start the nighttime routine with Ida — wash up, brush teeth, read stories and then a quick “lie down with me.”

9 p.m. Watch “Curb Your Enthusiasm” reruns while pinning house ideas on Pinterest.

9 a.m. I head up to our new home to shoot a video walk-through. I also pay close attention to how and where the natural light comes into the different rooms, and map out the angles for our next Target photo shoot.

Noon Touch base with my Jungalow team. I like using Slack because it simulates “chatting in the office” a bit more than email and it’s easy to get caught up with what’s happening all at once. The latest news is that there are lots of shipping delays. Textiles that were supposed to come in from India in time for the holidays won’t make it in time, so we’ll have to pivot and launch them in spring 2021.

3 p.m. I work with our partners at Loloi Rugs on the collaboration app Asana to brainstorm new rug design ideas. I tend to approach rug design conceptually and think about colors and patterns, whereas they generally start with the rug’s construction.

4:30 p.m. Go through photos from my trip to India last February, and pull natural tie-dye samples from the factory to get ideas for bedding designs we’re working on for 2022.

5:30 p.m. Touch base with our sourcing team to discuss sustainability efforts. We’re testing different ways to ship ceramics without using Styrofoam. So far, we’ve struggled to find a more eco-friendly solution that keeps the ceramics safe that the factories can adopt at scale. We decide to look into compostable egg-carton containers.

10 a.m. Meet the gardeners at the new house to walk through new garden systems.

11 a.m. Back at home, I have a Zoom meeting to walk through photography for a summer 2021 product launch. It looks great; just the right amount of jungaliciousness. Normally, I’d direct the shots in person, but we’re doing it remotely because of Covid.

1 p.m. Eat a late breakfast burrito while I post my book cover reveal to Instagram. Then I respond to comments, and check my DMs and email. Keeping up with this is getting harder. I’m wondering if I’ll have to delegate some of it to a team member in the coming months.

2 p.m. Monthly meetup with our e-commerce team to tackle customer experience issues. Lots of UPS shipping delays are creating difficulties for our small team. We discuss ways to announce delays on the site to keep customers informed and happy.

3:30 p.m. Approve final website and catalog layouts for the new Justina x Loloi collections that are about to launch. One of the collections is named “Chalos,” after my dad, so I text him to share the pics. He’s thrilled.

4 p.m. I review influencer packages for the January launch of a new collaboration with a personal care brand. It’s always tricky to decide what to send to influencers. Since I’m on the receiving end of these kinds of packages sometimes, I’m extra-sensitive about sending things that will be fun and exciting.

5 p.m. Work on some sketches for a new vase and planter line for fall 2021.

9 a.m. Whew! Lots of meetings today. Thursdays are always like this. I start off with a Jungalow leadership meeting on Google Hangouts. One large focus is to adjust away from me being a point person for the entire team.

11:30 a.m. My family goes to get drive-through Covid tests at Dodgers Stadium. We do so periodically because we’re in a pod with our parents, who are high-risk. The lines are extra long because of the latest surge, so I answer emails and catch up on social media while we wait.

2 p.m. The whole Jungalow team has our weekly staff meeting to see how everyone is doing, check in on work-life balance, and brainstorm new ideas. Today, we have a few new members of the team, so we started by taking personality tests.

3:15 p.m. The marketing team presents details for our first Jungalow Holiday Treasure Hunt. We’re hiding clues around the website — then our newsletter subscribers can follow them to win prizes. Figuring out the logistics has been a bit complicated, but we’re all really excited to try something out-of-the-box. Experimentation is my love language.

4:15 p.m. Run down to the Jungalow studio, a block away from my house, to review a new sample of a canister in the shape of a lady. Then, I head back home to start peeling and grating potatoes so I can cook latkes with Ida for the first night of Hanukkah.

9:30 a.m. I start my day with some hand-drawing. I try to draw or paint every day for about 30 minutes as a creative warm-up, and it’s a nice way to have personal creative time offscreen. This week, it’s been tough to fit in because of all of the meetings.

10:30 a.m. Time for the sexual harassment training we all must take, in accordance with California law. I’m actually surprised that it’s both entertaining and informative. There are so many things to watch out for, especially in a company like this, where we can be very friendly and familiar with one another.

2 p.m. I head back to the new house, where I’m meeting the leadership team; it’s the first time the three of us have seen each other in real life in eight months. We’re masked outside on the patio, discussing our sustainability and social media efforts. We end up chatting and hanging out more than getting any business done.

3:30 p.m. My husband cuts a hole in the new kitchen’s drop ceiling to see if there are pretty beams hiding beneath. There are. Woohoo! I capture the reveal for social media, then sketch floor plans for the kitchen remodel. We begin meeting with contractors next week.

4:30 p.m. On the drive home, I squeeze in some more work. I provide a final round of feedback on the rugs, then I discuss bed shams with our design manager.

6 p.m. I light night two of the Hanukkah candles, then hop in the Jacuzzi with my fam. This year has been so tough and such an emotional roller coaster, and I take a minute to just be in the moment and feel immense gratitude.


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