Nearly every word out of Janette Crawford’s mouth is worthy of jotting down for future reference. Her experiences as a designer for Homepolish (she’s currently working to revamp our founder Taylor’s home as you read this!) and as the creator of Sun + Dotter, which specializes in family-friendly design, have afforded her a wealth of knowledge. Did we also mention that Janette is a mother and the marketing manager for Parabo Press, a super secret app launching next month? She’s got lots to say and we are rapt with attention as she says it.
Janette and her three-year-old daughter, Vivian Sunshine (or Viv, as her mom affectionately calls her), have taken up residence in lovely Alamo Square Park, and their home reflects the family of two and their whimsical, effervescent style. From an overflowing collection of plants, to an eclectic hodgepodge of textiles from around the world, Janette has created an oasis that speaks to her love for design, home and family. Today, we take a tour of the space and listen to Janette’s perspective as a designer and mother, and hear her candid thoughts on divorce and welcoming a “cast” of roommates into their California abode. As she so aptly puts it, “Think, plan and do it. It’s amazing what a simple sense of intention can do.”
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Photography by Aubrie Pick
What was the design inspiration for your home?
My main inspiration has been to surround myself with things that make me happy. I love being outside, and I love textiles and patterns from different countries and eras, and that comes through in my home. I’ve also worked off a modest budget, so I’ve done a lot of vintage shopping and thrifting. That gives a uniqueness you’d never find out of catalog, plus great social responsibility. I love the freedom that buying used items offers—when I move or redecorate, I can sell it to someone else for about the same price, so it keeps things from being too precious.
What are your go-to spots for home décor?
I do my vintage shopping both in person and online, especially at Alameda and Alemany flea markets, Stuff (the antique mall), eBay, Etsy and Craigslist. For new furniture, I always keep up with West Elm, CB2, EQ3, Design Within Reach, Room & Board, Ikea and lots of little boutiques. For art, my go-tos are Little Paper Planes and Society6.
Your home design style seems very eclectic. How do you mix and match styles so they look effortless?
The key to bringing mismatched things together is to balance styles. Some of my vintage pieces are totally scruffy, so they need clean-lined pieces as counterpoints. You never want to go too far with any one style.
As for textiles, in my living room I have kilim pillows from the Middle East, mud cloth from Africa, and a Persian-style rug. Coming from so many parts of the world, from so many eras, it doesn’t really make sense that they’d go together. But there’s a kind of common human creativity that they all speak to. I love that.
You have a lot of greenery in your home! Any tricks for incorporating plants into your interior style? Plus, how do you keep yours alive?
I love the texture and life that plants add to a space. I have them in every room! To incorporate them into your own space, the first step is keeping them alive, so don’t be afraid to ask for lots of help at the plant store. Be honest about how good you’ll be at watering them, and how much light your space gets, and good professionals will be able to help you find the right plants for your needs.
To go next-level, I fit plants to a color palette. Like in Taylor’s space, which we’re working on now, greens with really yellow undertones will not look great against her backdrop. So we’ll be sourcing spruce-green succulents (like Fish Hooks), and plants with forest-green tones (like dark Rubber Plants). And sometimes a really leafy profile is too busy for a minimalist space, so something like a streamlined Sansivieria looks best.
As for keeping my own plants alive, I have loads of light and I water thoroughly only when the dirt is dry. (I’ve asked for lots of recommendations for minimal-care plants myself.) It also doesn’t hurt that my grandpa was a master gardener in Colorado, and my mom is a pro in her own right.
What tips do you have for someone wanting to create a gallery wall?
Here’s my process: Find an image of a gallery wall style you want to emulate. With your own artwork, use that style to inspire an arrangement by laying your pieces out on the floor. Take a photo from above. Then try a new arrangement, take a photo, etc. I usually do this three to four times before landing on my favorite. When you have a composition you love, you can even mock it up on the wall with paper. People frequently hang art too high, so this can really help you gauge placement.
Quick! What’s your favorite piece in your home?
It’s too hard to pick one! But at the top of the list would definitely be my plants—and my thoughtfully chosen art collection, including pieces by friends Kelly Lynn Jones, Alyson Fox and Danielle Krysa.
How do you keep your home stylish and functional with a toddler?
Concealed storage is a parent’s best friend. Baskets are basically a requirement for easy cleanup. For my furniture and décor, I’m pretty rigorous about versatility. I’ve collected classic pieces that have the right balance of style and durability (and that don’t show my dog’s white fur). I keep breakables out of reach, but I keep plenty of décor around that’s fine for Viv to play with.
Some examples include my sectional from IKEA—all of the cushion covers are washable, and I gave it a new look with tapered midcentury legs. The flatweave rug under my dining table is amazingly stain resistant—it’s survived baby food and red wine. My shelves are styled with lots of books and nothing breakable. I have a collection of Danish candlesticks that look great and have ended up doubling as toys—Viv often pulls them down and builds towers.
What are your favorite things to do when you’re home?
I love hanging out with Viv in the evenings, eating dinner, and following her creative whim wherever it may lead (usually coloring or dancing). Our place is great for hosting, so I love having groups of friends over for meals or drinks—which reminds me, I haven’t done that enough lately.
You recently went through a divorce. What advice would you offer to those who are going through a divorce or a similarly life-altering change?
Getting divorced is not something I would ever have imagined happening in my life, and it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. But I was given the advice to use it for good—to become the kind of woman and mother I want to be. It took a while for that to finally make sense to me, but it was an incredible motivator and has since come true.
I believe there’s gratefulness to be found in even the worst circumstance. If you learn or grow from it at all, that’s something to be grateful for. This is the biggest thing I’ve learned, and it makes me feel like I can deal with anything. So my advice for others is to be a student, and be grateful.
What was the inspiration behind the design of your daughter’s room?
The mobile was the first thing I bought—and with so many colors in it, for a while I thought it wouldn’t work. But after I added pillows made of bright Hmong textiles (which my mom sewed for me out of a Vietnamese skirt), it made sense. I love the patterns and pops of neon that come out in the textiles I’ve collected for Viv’s rom—all of which come from Vietnam, Guatemala, India and Mexico.
You and Viv also now share your home with two roommates! How has that been?
Amazing! Two girls moved in with us last fall. We live on Alamo Square Park by the Full House houses, so we joke about our house being the next sitcom set here—and that we’re now casting for male leads, contract to hire. (This still makes me laugh every time!) I’ve got a pretty great contractor going at the moment. He has strong cast member potential.
Any other thoughts you’d like to share?
Speaking of home design and divorce and parenting…I do my best to be intentional about everything I do. To not just let life happen to me, but to think about what I want and how to get there, and act accordingly. (I mess it up all the time, so it means the world to have beautiful friends who keep me on track.) Think, plan and do it. It’s amazing what a simple sense of intention can do.