Photos: Janet Kwan | janetkwan.com
• Proudest DIY Moment
My proudest DIY moment was when I decided to tackle our red brick fireplace on my own. I’m talking super bright, fire engine red brick, not the nice, weathered, pretty brick. We got a quote to reface it for about three grand, and my frugal heart could not take it. I found a way and did it for under $80 with a few tubs of spackle, ziplock bags and a scraper. It was basically like icing a cake, and it turned out exactly as I had envisioned it, a German smear fireplace that looked like it had been in the house forever.
• Design Ideas I Love
I love the idea of hygge—designing around a feeling that creates an atmosphere that promotes coziness. There are no rules to creating hygge in your own home, which also adds to its appeal for me. Designing a home full of hygge for me means a brightly lit home with lots of plants, warm wood tones and shelves brimming with functional but beautiful items I brought home from my travels!
• Best Home Advice Create a home you love by decorating with things you love for people you love.
• Styling Tips
My number one styling tip is to always buy beautiful things that are functional and will make sense in the context of the room you are decorating with pops of unexpected elements! I also like to layer in my styling. Let me explain by breaking down my favorite place to decorate, my kitchen shelves! Currently, I have my delicate wine glasses with golden cutlery in a clear glass jar for a hint of warmth. Behind the glasses, I opted to put a vintage art piece found at a garage sale to add personality. Personally, I always love adding live plants to soften any design vignettes. On the lower shelves, I picked out a stylistically pleasing speaker, because if I had to display it, it should also be beautiful! Next, I have my water glasses that get used frequently and my gold-tone water spritzer to tie in with the gold in my cutlery. To further accentuate the warmth in my kitchen, I also layered some wooden serving boards on the counter. I think art in the form of a sculptural element or even in plants adds something unexpected and fun to styling.
"My first tip to choosing a room color is understanding if your home is warm or cool-toned. Any color can be a warm or cool tone, even if it’s red!"
• Paint Tips
My first tip to choosing a room color is understanding if your home is warm or cool-toned. Any color can be a warm or cool tone, even if it’s red! You hear red and you automatically think it’s obviously a warm tone, but there is variation in red! It’s like picking out lipstick for your complexion! So next time you need to pick out a paint color for your home, look at your surroundings, like the floors, your cabinets, your furniture—basically anything you don’t plan or can’t change—and that will determine if you should choose a color that is a warm or cool tone! Oftentimes, I have friends ask me why a gray or white on their walls feels off even though it’s a neutral color; it has to do with the tone!
• Hashtags You Love A group of friends and I started a hashtag called #thatroomiseverything, and it has really taken off! I no longer host the hashtag, but I love perusing it for beautiful content. I am constantly blown away by the talent you can find, and the people behind these homes are even more beautiful than their aesthetically pleasing homes.
• Fun Easy Design Hack
I frame calendars I love as wall art! I did this in my guest bedroom and powder room because I wanted something inexpensive and cohesive that would cover a tall wall. This way, you get to enjoy the calendar all year round, and at the end of the year, you have 12 curated pieces of artwork that stylistically make sense together and are usually curated to fit a color scheme! I enjoy the Rifle Paper Co. travel calendars a lot and have framed quite a few of them in the past.
• Top Tips for Healthy & Productive Workflow
I am most productive when I have a plan and a list of items to knock off. So for me, it’s important that I think through any project and have a plan. That could be a mood board, a scribble in my planner where I brainstorm and then from that I create a task list. I also need accountability in order to have a good workflow, so I like to work at coffee shops where I am not tempted to do anything else but what I had set out in my task list. My drink is my sitting fee, and I don’t leave until I have accomplished what I had planned to finish that day (within reason of course!).
• Shopping Secrets The secret to creating a home you love is to only buy what you truly love. Whatever you bring into your home should fit a few checkmarks. Do you love it? Does it serve you? Basically, if it is both functional, beautiful and you can use it in your home right now, then it’s the perfect fit for you. I’m still learning to curate my home as well.
"If you don’t have room to showcase it or use it, then there really was no point in owning it."
Sometimes I see things I love and I want to hoard them in my home, but if you think about it, I will be doing both my home and the newfound treasure a disservice. I know that sounds odd, but if you don’t have room to showcase it or use it, then there really was no point in owning it. Perhaps that piece will serve a different owner much better! This is how I feel when I thrift. I want to bring everything home and I have to take a step back and ask myself these same questions. That way, I only bring home things that will elevate my home, not clutter it up.
• What I Wish I’d Known In The Beginning That I am my biggest advocate and salesperson for my own brand. So don’t be afraid to dream big, but more importantly, don’t be afraid to go for it and send that email out or reach out for that collaboration. The worst that can happen is that they say no, and guess what, you’ll find another way to achieve those big dreams. And remember, no doesn’t mean no forever, so keep trying
• Green Living Tips
I have made a conscious effort to limit the use of one-time products in my home, specifically paper towels. I currently have a two-bin system next to my sink. One is labeled “clean” and the other “dirty” and it has cut down on a lot of our paper towel usage! The secret to this transition was to hide the paper towels and place an alternative in the same spot that is easy to use! No explanation is necessary.