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August 22nd, 2014

10 clickables




1. I will be co-teaching a brand new seminar at The Creative Residency on Sept. 13th. in L.A. with Dabito. This time we’ll be teaching a Social Media Colloquium. It’s gonna be a game changer! Space is limited so sign up soon!

2. I’m wearing Calypso’s Raju Tee in the above pic.  Proceeds from this tee benefit the mission of Wildlife SOS to save and protect endangered elephants.

3. This Instagram account has me super inspired lately.  Can you dig it?

4. West Elm is offering makers and small design companies a chance to win a $25,000 grant. Get info here.

5. I’ve been kinda obsessed with podcasts recently and I can’t stop thinking about this talk by Sarah Lewis on the difference between success and mastery.

6. For the mamas and the papas this week I have a guide for lighting a nursery over at Interior Deluxe Lighting, and an eBay guide for 10-toddler must-haves (obsessed with the baskets at the end of the list!!)

7. Check out this “5-Minute tour” with me over at Covet Garden Magazine.

8. Stoked for JB blog contributor Nicole for winning Inside Out Magazine’s Search for a Stylist contest. You go girl!!

9. Join in on the fun as I pin jungalicious ideas to my newest pinboard: Justina’s Creative Home with Lowe’s.  It’s gonna get wild. Promise. :)

10. Do you follow Cecilia on Pinterest? She is one of my favorite pinners.


Have an amazing weekend sweet friends!



There is something so dreamy and romantic about a canopy bed, am I right?  It’s the bed fit for a princess, but it doesn’t have to be stuffy or too fancy.  If you have a four poster bed for starters, you can drape all your favourite textiles along the top and from each post (they don’t have to match, but a similar colour palette would be nice). Add extra charm with tassels from your travels, rope or even a dangly necklace or two.


Add a simple strip of mud cloth from the headboard upwards, and bunch it at the top for a more relaxed boho look.


With the most colorful fabric you can find at the fabric shop or thrift store, you can make a really simple canopy by draping a strip of fabric along two suspended wooden dowels from your ceiling.  By my eye, this looks like around at least 6 meters of fabric which has then been tied in a big knot at the end. The dowels were just installed with hooks and tied rope, but you could also use two c-cup hooks for each end of your support beam.  You don’t have to dress your bed in the exact same fabric as your canopy, but it does pack a powerful punch!


If crazy colorful isn’t for you, add a white canopy for a more subdued look.  I’m personally a big fan of white in the bedroom. Try threading a white curtain along a stick of bamboo, it already has the loops.  Plus bamboo is light and easy to work with; you could erect a canopy frame along 1, 2, 3 or 4 sides of your bed and make your own four poster dreamship.


When I was searching for the prettiest canopy beds, none other than our Justina reigned as the queen of this domain; I had to include a couple of my favorites.  Above, she has simply placed a piece of white fabric along the top of her bedroom window frame and then gathered it to meet at the pendant above the bed.  So stunning, right?


Think beyond the bedroom, if you’re not ready or don’t have the space in there. Above, Justina has added an array of vintage scarfs and fabric leftovers to a curtain rod above this window seat, for the cosiest little reading nook.

Photo credits:

1. Terence Conran’s ‘New House Book’, 1985

2. ‘The Way We Live with the Things We Love’ , 2009 Photography: Gilles de Chabaneix

3. Terence Conran’s ‘New House Book’, 1985

4. Elle Decor UK, July 2012 Photography: Birgitta Wolgang Drejer

5. Justina Blakeney here

6. Justina Blakeney there


This post was created by Nicole Valentine Don for JB est. 1979.
For more of Nicole’s magical musings,  visit her blog and follow her on instagram.





August 21st, 2014

6 tips for studio & dorm decor


My old studio apartment where I converted a closet into a home-office

A lot of you are heading back to school this month, and I remember very clearly what that’s like. My first year at UCLA I shared a triple with two girls names Jen. Jen#1 loved all things plastered with that yellow happy face emoji, and Jen#2 had those ‘romantic’ posters with details highlighted in red and pink, like these, you know? Ya, well, our room was eclectic to put it mildly. Mix those two flavors with my style, which, even back then was crazy colorful, boho and textile-rich, and what you got was a hot mess, a tiny hot mess because the room was about the size of a shoe box.

Well if I could go back in time I’d do things a little differently. I’d employ a few tips and tricks to maximize space and style and to minimize on kissing children posters mixed with happy faces and Indonesian batik. So today I’ve partnered with Del Mar (a family-owned online company that specializes in lighting and fans) to share some ideas of what I’d do to my dorm room if I could hop in a time machine back to my college dorm years.


1. fan |2. reading lamp brass |3. beaded sconce| 4. floor lamp |5.  chandelier | 6. palm tree print 7. bed | 8.desk 

1. Neutral Furniture
Starting off with a neutral foundation of classic, modern furniture will help to avoid overall visual chaos. Pick a color for the big pieces and stick to it. Bring in color through accents and smaller pieces.

2. Small Pieces that Last
I feel like often times people have this mentality like you have to buy cheap crap for dorms or studios and then you invest in ‘real’ stuff when you move into a larger space. Well enough with the disposable culture! There are many items, (like especially good lighting) that are super important to a space and can be brought with you when moving on to the next spot. A beautiful wall sconce or elegant floor lamp won’t show much wear and tear and can easily travel along with you as you (and your space) grow.

3. Multi Functional Pieces
Multi functional pieces will help with storage and space issues. Take, for example, the floor lamp pictured in the mood board above. It can be placed between a bed and a desk (or between two anythings, really) to provide lighting for two separate areas. Storage ottomans, storage benches and beds with storage underneath are also good examples of multi-functional pieces that will help to save space in your tiny abode.

4. Fresh Air
Having fresh air circulate around the room is paramount–especially in small spaces. Lots of plants, wide open windows and fans can help to ensure that the space doesn’t get stuffy.

5. Build up
Use the walls wisely. Hang shelves on walls to maximize storage. Also use wall lights for mood lighting but also to save on surface space. Hang mirrors on the walls to help to make the space seem larger than it actually is.

6. Pieces that Can Tie the Whole Room Together
Including two pieces that ‘relate’ to one another on different sides of a room can help to visually pull a room together.  For example, if you use the above beaded chandelier in the center of the room, adding the beaded sconce in a strategic spot can help to make the room look cohesive. Now it’s important not to get too matchy-matchy, but a few pieces that relate to one-another can do wonders to a space.

*This post was created in partnership with Del Mar.




When Dana, my best friend for the last 18 years (we were college roomies at UCLA) told me that she and her beau were pregnant, I was SUPER dooper excited. Not only was my BFF going to me joining me in mamahood, but this baby would be the most mixed baby I know since Dana is half Chinese Hawaiian and half eastern and northern European and her man, Cary is mixed with African American, Native American, Spanish and German. I mean, this baby is going to make me look homogeneous. Such an eclectic background certainly calls for an eclectic baby room, yes? Not boring McSnoozefest like the before pic shown above!


Here they are. It’s a shame they are such such homely looking couple, right? Jeeeez even the dog is good-looking. Anyway I was really happy I got a chance to come and do this for Dana. She has been such a good friend to me over the years. She flew to L.A. when Ida was born with an uncooked pizza in her lap from my favorite Bay-Area childhood pizzeria. She’s that kind of friend. She has been there for me time and time again and so to be able to reciprocate by helping her with her nursery felt really good. I flew up on Friday afternoon and we had until Sunday evening to churn out the most amazing nursery for the most amazing woman and what will surely be the most amazing little munchkin.


First the paint went up and then, once dry, the blue Ikat rug from Lulu and Georgia went down. We had ordered all the bigger stuff beforehand online–like the striped pouf from Tuvalu and the big comfy chair from High Fashion Home (it’s gonna be so perfect for nursing and cuddling with the little bean.) Then the first layer of furniture was arranged and rearranged until we found good spots for all the larger pieces.

Progress- Dana's nursery

Then came the really fun part–shopping for smalls–both practical and decorative pieces to make the space fun and functional. Dana’s taste skews a bit more modern than mine so I was going for colorful but not off-the-wall, playful but not cooky. At the end of 48 hours of shopping, schlepping, decorating and redecorating, we had kind of an spectacular little space that even I was jealous of by the time I hopped back on a plane to come back out to L.A. –and here is is, the After –with sources for everything at the bottom!

Above the crib we hung a world map from Wandering Fables on Etsy.  There is a little heart marked for each country of the little one’s heritage. We found that rad basket on the left at Ross. Do you love it? I love it!


We wanted the space to feel, beachy, jungly, safari-y and kinda tropical. We toyed around with different names for ‘themes’ and landed on Safaropicalow, kinda has a little ring to it yes? No, you say?  Well, if you think of something better let me know. In the mean time, I’m gonna stare at these vintage brass giraffes because they make me feel very happy.





And yes, there is my Jungalow mobile. I just couldn’t let Dana’s baby stare at the ceiling while getting changed now could I? We also swapped out the hardware on the dresser .


I used a vintage kantha quilt in the crib and fell in love with that  Dye Stripe Vase from Urban Outfitters.w-BABY-KOA-NURSERY-13



And now there needs to be a little drumroll as they are announcing the baby’s name right here for the first time!! Welcome baby:



!!! Such a cute name right? It’s a Hawaiian name that means ”brave, bold, fearless.”



While reading a book to Ida one night, I had the idea to take pages from it to use as art in the nursery. We framed three pages from  Waterlife by Rambharos Jha. Love the way this came out and it was an easy and affordable solution for art prints.



Seriously though? Comfiest chair ever. And the pompom pillow. ya. couldn’t resist.



And here we are at the end of the 48 hour whirlwind. And yes, she’s 30 weeks pregnant.
I know.


Quicksilver – Sherwin Williams
Meander Blue – Sherwin William

Big comfy Chair From High Fashion Home
Little “S” Chair from High Fashion Home
Striped Pouf from Tuvalu
Crib and dresser were hand-me-downs. Find similar here
Drum side-table from World Market
Gold Pouf from eBay

Blue Ikat rug from Lulu and Georgia
Voile Curtains from Wold Market (we use 6 on one window)
Heart pillow by Sukan on Etsy
Dotted Pillow from Anthropologie
PomPom pillow from Anthropologie
Aqua striped blanket from Land of Nod
Dotted changing pad cover from Land of Nod

Jungalow mobile by Yours Truly and Como Metal Works
Striped succulent planters from Lowe’s
Gold table lamp from Land of Nod
Dye Stripe Vase from Urban Outfitters
Small wooden animal toys from World Market
Vintage gold giraffes from eBay

Elephant and Giraffe Hooks form Anthropologie
Acrylic Shelves from The Container Store
Giraffe Head from Land of Nod
Pineapple Print from Land of Nod
Truck print from Land of Nod
Map art by Wandering Fables on Etsy
Gold Feather decals from Target.
Framed Alligator and Turtle prints are pages carefully removed from one of my favorite illustrated books, Waterlife by Rambharos Jha. The frames are from World Market.

Thank you Dana and Cary for letting me take over the house for a couple of days! Can’t wait till I get to cover baby Koa in kisses!
*Photos, design and styling by Justina Blakeney
*Rug C/O Lulu and Georgia, love seat C/O High Fashion Home, Pouf C/O Tuvalu. 

August 20th, 2014

Elle Decor India




I woke up with butterflies in my stomach to see this in my inbox! Thanks so much to Elle Decor India for including me and my Face The Foliage project in your September issue! I have always wanted to be an Avant Gardener!
(And if any of you reading this are *in* India and want to send me a copy I would be so happy and reimburse you in cash and kisses!!)

Also thanks to all who chimed in with messages of love and support to yesterday’s post. Your openness, realness and kindness inspires the same in me. <3.


It has taken me many years to muster up the courage to write this post, but enough time has passed now that I have decided to open up and share a story of my past that is difficult and emotional for me to talk about. Something that I even still feel shame around.

I lived in Italy for seven years (from the time I was 20 until I was 27) and had the most incredible experiences, met the most amazing people, had many true, great friends and learned a lot. I would not trade that time in for anything. That having been said, while there, I found myself enduring one of the most painful and difficult experiences of my life.

He was older and charming and smart.  We were friends for a bit before becoming more than friends. He was romantic and knew all the perfect spots to introduce me to in and around the city. He knew all the flea markets inside and out (and loved visiting them just as much as I did). He would pick me up and put me on the back of his Vespa and take me up windy roads, wind in face, to the most incredible, out-of-the-way trattorias in Chianti where the pasta noodles were made on-site. He paid attention to me and took care of me in ways I felt like no man ever had. He cooked amazing meals for me, made my bed in the the mornings, took me on surprise trips to the South of France and London, and introduced me to so many new things, people…and I fell in love.

We had been dating for about three months and it was Christmas time and I felt it was too early to go to his family’s Christmas dinner (nor had I been invited). When I told him I would be going to a friend’s house for Christmas dinner he got upset and started yelling.  After the fight he didn’t call or text (or respond to my calls or texts) for three days. I was mortified at the thought that I had offended him and chalked it up to some kinda cultural misunderstanding?? I wasn’t sure what I had done exactly but I apologized to him profusely when he finally returned my call and eventually the whole thing blew over and a week or so later all was back to blissful normal.

After that hiccup, we grew closer and continued to see each other almost daily. Things were good and new and fun. We travelled and wined and dined. Then a couple months later another fight. This time he didn’t just get loud,  he got mean and even started calling me names. And again this time, I wasn’t sure what I had done to set him off, but imagined that we were having another cultural misunderstanding somehow. Italians are full of passion–especially when it comes to love…my Italian friends would tell me. This is how he was expressing his passion and love for me apparently.

I knew better than to think that love was expressed through yelling and name calling–But couples fight, right? I’d tell myself. And besides a little temper he was such a great guy. So the relationship continued and we went on like this–fighting every couple of weeks–over tiny nothings.

Soon I’d notice subtle gestures that made me feel uncomfortable. He’d hold his hand on the back of my neck instead of holding my hand as we walked down the street.  It felt almost like a collar.  I would shrug it off though, as though I was being irrational or again, justifying it in my head by imagining that this behavior was a cultural norm.

Then he started to get upset if he thought he saw me looking at another man. I was flirting–he’d say. We’d fight again. The fights would escalate. I’d find myself yelling back.  He’d call me a whore, then he’d disappear for days, sometimes weeks.  He wouldn’t return phone calls or text. His friends wouldn’t know (or at least they wouldn’t tell me) where he was. Looking back it’s very difficult to explain why I kept on coming back to him time and time again.  Why I even wanted to find him. I told myself that I needed closure.

By this time we had been together 6 or 8 months and I began to realize he had “issues” that he had to work through. He was moody, had a bad temper, or maybe he was slightly bipolar–I even did some internet research and decided that he had Paranoid Personality Disorder. I resolved that I was the only person in the world that could help him through these issues. He loved me more than anything, or anyone. I should stand by his side in good times and bad. “When we’re great, we’re amazing” I’d tell myself. THIS is love. THIS is passion. We’re in love and love conquers all.

We went on like this for another year. We were off and on and off and on, and every other week I was in a fit of tears, an emotional mess because he had had another ‘outburst’, and he had disappeared again and wouldn’t take my calls.

It got to be so bad that I stopped talking about him or the relationship with friends or family. “This was fun when it was a movie,” one girlfriend said “But now it’s a soap opera…” And frankly, I was tired of talking about it too. I was tired of making excuses for him, and for myself, and  I pushed my friends away.

At the time, I didn’t think of him (or the relationship) as abusive. I was a strong, educated woman. I was independent–a feminist even–a hippie! I didn’t have low self-esteem. I had travelled the world on my own, started my own business, I would never stay in an abusive relationship, so obviously I wasn’t in an abusive relationship. We were just more passionate than other couples.

It happened dozens of times. We’d be blissful, then he would find some reason to blow up at me. I was always treading carefully on thin ice. We’d fight. He’d disappear for days or weeks. Then he’d call, apologize, tell me he loved me and that he wanted to be with me forever, that I was an angel, that I was his angel. That I was the only person who really understood him. And then we would get back together and it would be magical for about three weeks until things, once again, would fall apart. Yelling in restaurants “How many men did you f-ck when you were in college..” He’d holler. “You’re a whore! All American girls are whores and you are no exception!” ”I thought you were are Ferrarri but you’re a deflated bicycle tire…”

By the end of the two year stretch, getting back together with him was like getting a fix.  I was a drug addict and he was my drug. I felt elated the minute he was back in my arms after a fight, but I was also hurt, tired and scared.

But I love him. I’d tell myself.

This went on for two years. Then one day we were at my apartment with a few friends and we were all having some snacks and getting ready to go out. He was in one of his moods. By this time I could smell the ‘mood’ from a mile away. He came over to where I was chatting and snacking with friends and asked my why I was dipping my artichoke in mayonnaise. When I replied that I had grown up eating it this way–he looked at me and said “Yes, I can tell.” Embarrassed by his dig, I told him to f*ck off and he grabbed me by the wrist and dragged me into the bedroom. He told me never to talk back to him in front of my friends again and hit me in the face, hard, with a closed fist. Blood streamed out of my nose and dripped slowly to the tiles floor and I let out a scream.

As my friends came in from the other room to see what was wrong, he said that he had barely touched me and told me to stop being dramatic. Honestly, the rest is kind of a blur.  I had spent two years living on eggshells, not knowing what buttons I was about to push, not knowing whether that day I was his angel or his whore, his everything or his nothing.

Some of my Italian friends tried to justify his actions. “We are a passionate people.” One of my close friends told me.

I ended up leaving Italy that year for good. Upon reflection, I think a big part of my decision to leave was about making sure I was I was getting myself out of that relationship because there was a part of me that was afraid that I’d go back to him again as I had done so many times before–even after he hit me.

I learned a lot in that relationship–that it’s easier than I could have ever imagined  to find oneself justifying abuse–even for someone as ‘strong and educated’ as myself. I learned that ‘love’ and ‘passion’ are NEVER reasons to stay in a relationship that doesn’t make you feel good. I learned that you can’t be in a relationship to ‘save’ someone–it just doesn’t work that way.

Since this chapter in my life I have talked to so many women–including close girlfriends–who have also experienced abuse (physical, verbal or both) from men they were in relationships with. Because this is clearly not as rare as I wish it was,  I thought it would be important to share this experience with you. It can happen to anybody. It’s easy to make excuses for people. He didn’t mean it. It’s a cultural misunderstanding. He has a problem that he is working on…

Most importantly, one must love oneself enough to know when it’s time to let go of someone that doesn’t know how to love you back. Now, thank goodness, I have found a man that loves and respects me, without the crazy ups and downs, without the yelling, the berating, the name calling or the punching. He is gentle and kind, passionate and full of love without the the violence, disappearing acts or the escalations. He holds my hand as we walk down the street, not my neck–he is neither controlling, nor jealous. There is mutual respect and mutual love.

The good news is, each day represents a new opportunity for a fresh start, for growth and for love–the kind that doesn’t sting and ache and burn.



I am constantly shaking things up in the jungalow.  I’m usually either making room for new stuff, moving furniture around to adjust to Ida’s next stage of growth, or just changing the look because I get bored of staring at the same stuff all the time.  I find that when I use simple, stylish and durable pieces in the home as a foundation, it’s easier to make them my own and adapt them to new settings and new functions as my family, my tastes and my mood grow and change.

Last week I shared with you some of my favorite pieces from Target’s Room Essentials line and today I’m going to share with you three ways to use this simple $39 ottoman. It was love at first click for me with this piece. It’s simple but not boring and super versatile.


I use this little desk at my bedroom window-seat as a creative station. I don’t work here all the time, but I like to sit here and write (a lot of my book was written at this very spot) and I also use this desk to sew when I’m working on DIY projects. The ottoman works perfectly here as a stool — it’s small enough to slide right under the desk when not in use, it’s very comfy and sturdy to sit on, and the modern lines work really well with the mid-century style of my window seat. I put a colorful vintage Berber textile over the cushion to kinda make it my own and I love the way it looks and feels.


Another functional way I use this ottoman is as, well, as ottoman–a comfy spot to kick up my feet after a long day. I’ll plop down a tray with a snack while I get cozy with my favorite magazines.

I’m gonna be honest–I only have time to do this about once a month–but for those few zoned-out dreamy minutes I feel super relaxed.



The last way I use this little dude is as a side-table. It could go next to a chair or a sofa, and in this little space, I’ve used it in a corner of our house that is always begging for a little action–a plant, or some flowers–a little somethin’ somethin’ to liven up the place. I added a pile of books and a bamboo situation and came out with a cute little vignette.

We don’t have a dining room at the jungalow, but the ottoman would also make great additional seating for a dining area. It’d be perfect for a vanity stool, or a piano bench, too. I can think of a lot of perfect places for this little dude. Did I miss any ideas? How would you use it in your home?

This post is sponsored by Target. Shop Room Essentials to make modern life easier.
All Photos by Justina Blakeney.