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If You're Obsessed With Plants And Color, You Need These Decor Tips

"If you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong."

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Justina Blakeney is the creator of The Jungalow, a design site that is full of color, patterns, and lots and lots of plants. Much of her design inspiration comes from her background in fashion and her love of nature.

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She sells her own furniture and textiles on her site and has a new book — The New Bohemians Handbook: Come Home To Good Vibes ($27.50) — coming out in October.

Here are Blakeney’s best tips for bringing The Jungalow style into any space you love:

1. Change your room like you change your clothes.

"One of the things I always try to remind people about is it is a whole lot like fashion in that if you try a new pair of pants and you don’t like them, you can take them off. Or use a belt or tweak things and make them work," Justina says. "And you can throw in a few new basic throw pillows and all of a sudden you have a look that seems totally different. And if you hate it, you can take it off and try something else."
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"One of the things I always try to remind people about is it is a whole lot like fashion in that if you try a new pair of pants and you don’t like them, you can take them off. Or use a belt or tweak things and make them work," Justina says. "And you can throw in a few new basic throw pillows and all of a sudden you have a look that seems totally different. And if you hate it, you can take it off and try something else."

2. Be willing to experiment with anything that isn't nailed to the ground.

Just because something is designed for a specific space doesn't mean it is only useful in that space. Justina explains, "You should think of everything as mercurial and in doing so, you open yourself up to the opportunity to play and experiment." For example, if a desk isn't helpful, turn it into a vanity for your bathroom or move a kitchen hutch into your bedroom for some added storage.
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Just because something is designed for a specific space doesn't mean it is only useful in that space. Justina explains, "You should think of everything as mercurial and in doing so, you open yourself up to the opportunity to play and experiment." For example, if a desk isn't helpful, turn it into a vanity for your bathroom or move a kitchen hutch into your bedroom for some added storage.

3. Take a photo of your space for an alternative perspective.

Justina explains, "It’s so helpful for me when I’m redecorating a room or decorating a room for the first time to take a lot of pictures and then sit with the pictures for a little while." She says that the camera helps her look at a space from a different angle and in different lighting to root out what is awkward or missing.
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Justina explains, "It’s so helpful for me when I’m redecorating a room or decorating a room for the first time to take a lot of pictures and then sit with the pictures for a little while." She says that the camera helps her look at a space from a different angle and in different lighting to root out what is awkward or missing.

4. Take care of your plants like you take care of your children.

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Justina explains that just as children have different needs at different times, and have different ways of expressing those needs, plants behave in the same way. Justina says. "So for me, I don’t have a specific watering day because not all of the plants need to get watered at the same time. If a plant is looking droopy, it might need water or more sun."

5. And start out with a ~beginner-level~ plant that's sturdy enough to stand a few mistakes.

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Blakeney suggest really researching which plants are best for your environment and which can withstand some trial and error. "The ZZ plant and the snake plant are both very hearty, sculptural, and don’t need a lot of water," she says. "A lot of people try and start out with something like a fiddle leaf fig and that’s like trying to drive on a Ferrari."

6. Give your plants some time to adjust to their new surroundings.

Blakeney recommends giving plants an acclimation period to adjust to their new surroundings. "It’s very normal for a plant to be a little shocked just like we are when we move into a new home," she says. "Just like us, plants need time to get used to a new palce." That means that some original droopiness when the plant first moves isn't necessarily an indication of trouble.
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Blakeney recommends giving plants an acclimation period to adjust to their new surroundings. "It’s very normal for a plant to be a little shocked just like we are when we move into a new home," she says. "Just like us, plants need time to get used to a new palce." That means that some original droopiness when the plant first moves isn't necessarily an indication of trouble.

7. Declutter like a minimalist, decorate like a maximalist.

"Although there is a lot going on visually, it doesn't necessarily mean there's a lot of stuff," Blakeney explains. "Just like minimalists choose what they keep in their home very carefully, so do I. I like to surround myself with lots of beautiful art, plants, pattern, and color. That’s what makes me light up, that’s what makes me feel good. If it doesn’t make me happy when I look at it, it’s gone."
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"Although there is a lot going on visually, it doesn't necessarily mean there's a lot of stuff," Blakeney explains. "Just like minimalists choose what they keep in their home very carefully, so do I. I like to surround myself with lots of beautiful art, plants, pattern, and color. That’s what makes me light up, that’s what makes me feel good. If it doesn’t make me happy when I look at it, it’s gone."

8. And make sure there's a nice ebb and flow of negative space.

Blakeney incorporates a lot of empty space in the design of her home in order to reduce feelings of clutter. "Something you'll find is that there is a rhythm to my work," she explains. "There will be lots of stuff and then a moment of calm, lots of stuff and then a moment of calm."
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Blakeney incorporates a lot of empty space in the design of her home in order to reduce feelings of clutter. "Something you'll find is that there is a rhythm to my work," she explains. "There will be lots of stuff and then a moment of calm, lots of stuff and then a moment of calm."

9. Bring in as much natural light as possible to make a small space feel huge.

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Blakeney suggests positioning your furniture in a way that provides the most access to natural light as possible. For renters, she recommends placing a mirror opposite an existing window to mimic the sensation of more light and space.

For homeowners, she recommended something a bit more daring: "I was really surprised that — for people that own their home — it’s not that expensive to put windows in," Blakeney said. "To me, i was also thinking this was going to be a huge undertaking and in the bathroom, but we put in a huge window that was about 5 feet tall and about $1500 to install."

10. And change out lightbulbs for ones that give your space the right glow.

"One of the little things that designers often do that can make a difference but isn't going to be a big adjustment is swapping out a lightbulb," Justina said. She suggests filament lightbulbs for a cozy, warm glow, and using softly-lit wall sconces and dimmable lamps.
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"One of the little things that designers often do that can make a difference but isn't going to be a big adjustment is swapping out a lightbulb," Justina said. She suggests filament lightbulbs for a cozy, warm glow, and using softly-lit wall sconces and dimmable lamps.

11. Space out your furniture by at least 24 inches so you have enough room to move.

Blakeney says a good rule of thumb to use when arranging furniture is to space the pieces out by at least 24 inches. "Your coffee table should be around 24 inches from your sofa in order for you not to feel like you can’t move or like you’re shuffling around your own house."
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Blakeney says a good rule of thumb to use when arranging furniture is to space the pieces out by at least 24 inches. "Your coffee table should be around 24 inches from your sofa in order for you not to feel like you can’t move or like you’re shuffling around your own house."

12. Buy your textiles directly from the source — on international eBay.

"People are always really surprised to know that I shop internationally on eBay and Etsy all the time," says Blakeney. "They're a little wary to know that I buy directly from Afghanistan or Morroco because they think the shipping is going to be expensive or whatever but I’ve probably bought around 30 rugs that way. They’re probably about half the price of things you would buy in other places." She recommends looking up search terms in different languages to find the thing you're looking for.
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"People are always really surprised to know that I shop internationally on eBay and Etsy all the time," says Blakeney. "They're a little wary to know that I buy directly from Afghanistan or Morroco because they think the shipping is going to be expensive or whatever but I’ve probably bought around 30 rugs that way. They’re probably about half the price of things you would buy in other places." She recommends looking up search terms in different languages to find the thing you're looking for.

13. Practice until your space is perfect.

Just like everything in life, Justina explains, home design takes practice and your space isn't going to be perfect after the first try. "If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong. To me, that’s the only rule in home decor," Justina says. "You should be having fun and loving your space. If you don’t, then you need to troubleshoot and you do that by eliminating things, by adding things, by switching things up."
thejungalow.com

Just like everything in life, Justina explains, home design takes practice and your space isn't going to be perfect after the first try. "If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong. To me, that’s the only rule in home decor," Justina says. "You should be having fun and loving your space. If you don’t, then you need to troubleshoot and you do that by eliminating things, by adding things, by switching things up."

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