Monica Wang & Her Home
We all know them—those extra-special photographers who have the unique ability to creatively capture the beauty in just about any moment, and whose portfolios are packed to the brim with perfect photo after perfect photo. In our opinion, Monica Wang is an easy name to add to the list of professional photographers to know, but it may just surprise you that photography isn't the only career focus for this talented artist!
When she's working at her nine-to-five corporate job as the director of finance for an alcohol delivery company, Monica has the opportunity to put her analytical side to work, whereas the boundaries of her creative side are constantly evolving thanks to her work as a photographer. The two sides to Monica's professional life combine to equal one of the most well-rounded and driven gals we know, and we love that this type of lifestyle is slowly becoming something of the norm for today's professional millennials.
Monica recently welcomed us into her brightly lit, bohemian-inspired home, and—just as we imagined—every corner, surface and wall featured something special to swoon over. Be prepared to find major inspiration in this home tour, and pay extra-close attention to Monica's insight into enjoying a successful dual-focused career as a young professional in California!
Tell us a bit about your background. What inspired you to pursue a career in photography?
I decided to pursue photography on a whim! I was working a full-time corporate job when I decided to explore and see what else was out there. During my Eat, Pray, Love-inspired self-discovery phase, I figured out that I needed a creative outlet. I considered all sorts of things before finding photography like holistic nutrition, opening up a barre studio, cooking, etc. I was lost and going through my quarter-life crisis. When I found photography, it felt like I was filling a void in my life that was always there and now I had something that I loved doing and that void was filled. It was like a missing puzzle piece had finally found its place.
Photography has opened up so many doors for me professionally and personally, and I am so incredibly thankful! It is more than an outlet for me now and has become a huge part of my life. I have met so many friends through it and have built some long-lasting relationships that I cherish very much.
We heard that you also have a full-time job outside of photography! How did that happen?
I do! I am the director of finance at an alcohol delivery company called Saucey. It is quite bizarre to have two huge parts of me be on such opposite sides of the spectrum, but I wouldn't have it any other way. It really is me. I get asked all the time if I plan on doing photography full-time, but I love both jobs for different reasons. During my nine-to-five job, I work in a high-paced, demanding environment with people I love working with. And on my photo days, I switch gears and let my brain flow freely on the right side. There is nothing wrong with some side hustle and I love that it is something that is becoming more common these days.
If you could photograph anyone or anything, who or what would it be?
I would love to photograph for Architectural Digest or domino one day! That would be a dream! I don't even know how you apply to those jobs. Ha! I guess that they just find you?
What has been the best moment of your career so far?
I can't say that there is a single best moment of my career so far, but it's the journey that I have been on. Some of my best photography career moments have been working with Lulu & Georgia. It was my first big client, and going from our first photo shoot together until now has been an amazing learning experience. We have been able to grow together through each photo shoot, which is the best part. The ones with Shay Mitchell and Whitney Port, in particular, have been the most memorable for me!
When I found photography, it felt like I was filling a void in my life that was always there and now I had something that I loved doing and that void was filled. It was like a missing puzzle piece had finally found its place.
Does the work you do influence the décor of your home?
Yes, indeed! I am lucky enough to visit so many wonderfully unique and beautiful homes as part of my job. I see firsthand how pieces work and live in a real environment, and figure out just what makes a picture pretty versus what actually functions in a natural way. Pretty and functional is always the best combo and I try to make sure that each thing I bring in my home has both.
What’s one décor piece you've got your eye on?
It's hard to name just one. These Hans Wegner chairs are definitely on my wish list. They are so versatile and the kind of pieces you will carry with you from home to home forever. I'm dying to get them for myself, but the price tag is no joke. And, I have also had my eye on a Stephen Kenn sofa for a while. His sofas are surprisingly very comfortable and the brass details are so pretty. That is hands-down my dream sofa.
Did you have a general idea in your mind about how you wanted your space to look, or did you design piece by piece as you shopped?
I designed the place piece by piece over an extended period of time. I didn't have a Pinterest board (shocking, I know!) because I didn't want to be overly influenced by what was on trend. I wanted our apartment to feel like us! I found the process to be really refreshing, and instead of spending endless hours scrolling through photos on a monitor, I just shopped around online and found suggestions from friends and people I interacted with on different photo gigs. Luckily, Los Angeles has a ton of great resources to find unique pieces, and I mixed those with more accessible finds from IKEA, Target, CB2, etc.
How did you approach the design of your apartment in order to make the most of the space?
One of the most important things when designing your space is layout! The space has to be as functional as possible before finding the right pieces of furniture to layer into the space. After picking out the layout, I had to really sit and think about what my style was. I wanted the space to have a modern, boho vibe, and I also love color with restraint.
Buying décor and furniture pieces was a thoughtful process for me. I guess I was following "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" concept without even realizing it. Each piece had a place and purpose. If not, I returned it or gave it away! Now, when I come home, I know where everything belongs, so there is no clutter and I get to enjoy the space in its entirety.
How would you describe your personal style?
I tend to focus on timeless and minimalist pieces, but also spend an extensive amount of time on attention to detail. It's the little things about any piece that make it great. Overall, I just have to feel love at first sight. That's how I know it was meant to be.
Pretty and functional is always the best combo and I try to make sure that each thing I bring in my home has both.
What décor items do you believe are most important to invest in? What do you recommend saving on?
Definitely rugs. It is so important to have a quality rug that you really love! It makes all the difference in the world and I know I wouldn't have been as happy if I had found mediocre ones. I would also recommend saving money on all those random decorative accessories such as pitchers, pillows, vases, sculptures, etc. because those are pieces that you'll want to change up every once in a while. I have found that Amazon is an awesome resource to find affordable pieces.
We love the prints in your space! Is there a story behind any of the art you have? How do you decide which prints to purchase?
Thank you! There is no story behind the prints at all and I picked them because they made me happy. It was that simple. When I started to decorate the house, I noticed that colored art prints were pretty, but visually, they overtook the room. I wanted our place to feel light, airy and uncluttered so I went with simple art prints with neutral colors. I sourced most of them on Minted and Urban Outfitters.
What is your favorite thing about living in California?
I could go on and on about my favorite things living here! I am originally from Chicago, so weather is a huge factor and something I don't take for granted. As a kid, I remember walking a mile home from school in more than 12 inches of snow, and shoveling the snow on the driveway every morning. Those fond memories have stayed with me all these years. Plus, L.A. sunsets are the best!
What is the hardest lesson in business you’ve learned so far?
This one is easy for me to answer because it is something I have had to learn over the past year or so. The art of saying "no." I have come to the conclusion that I can't do everything, regardless of how much I want to say "yes." I have time and physical limitations. Looking back, I think that saying "no" has actually helped me grow faster because I have been able to produce my best quality work with my favorite select clients and not do a bunch of mediocre work with many.
What are your favorite colors to decorate with?
I love neutrals! Black, gray, white and navy. Then, I layer in those pops of colors and textures with plants, pillows and accessories. Blue and pink is such a great color combo. I also love teal and soft pink or black and white with brass/copper metal accents.
What is your favorite room in your apartment and why?
I have to say my living room, 100 percent. I like to sit on my sofa with my lavender candle lit, windows open, sun streaming through the windows and my pup on my lap. It is where I want to be every day! It brings me so much peace and I absolutely love it.
How would you describe the overall aesthetic of your home?
Modern boho with casual Californian vibes.
- White rug
- Zaer pillow
- Albany fur pillow
- One of a Kind Lena pillow
- Potato print blue slate pillow
- Woven chairs
- Horn sculpture
- Reversible boy/girl bud vase
- Bariku bowl
- Hexagon brass pot
- Helping Blessing hand wood statue
- Light fixture
- Champagne pop candle
- Luxe Aura candle
- Plant stand
- Bar cart
- Wall hanging
- Candle holder
- Side tables