Jennifer & Her Home
Irresistibly decadent: Two of the words that first came to our minds while touring the home of Jennifer Harrison-Ciacchi. From the blown-out, super-saturated wallpaper patterns peppered throughout the rooms in her house to the plants that litter the floors, walls and ceilings, it's absolutely impossible not to willingly fall down the rabbit hole trap that is Jennifer's designer imagination.
As the founder of her own firm specializing in styling and design services (you may also know her under the umbrella, FleaMarketFAB), Jennifer is nearly constantly knee- and elbow-deep in paint swatches and piles of one-of-a-kind treasures at the local flea market. Yet, despite her million-dollar instincts, this designer's goal is centered on the idea of affordable beauty at home.
Below, Jennifer explains her start in the interior design world (including an unexpected turn post-college), plus her tips for bringing your own unique style home.
What sparked your interest in interior design?
I have always been artistic. In high school, I took commercial art as a three course major because I loved it so much. After I graduated, I went on to a local college to study art, only to realize that it wasn't where my passion was. I knew I loved design, but also wasn't sure the direction I really wanted to take. Once I met my husband and we started to build our home, that's when my design inspiration really hit me. Thanks to my mom, I had a family history of junking and fleaing that also gave me a big drive toward interiors. Once the house was finished and friends and family were coming to visit, word-of-mouth started getting me work. From there it all became a part-time passion job, as I had five kids to raise. But after the kids were all grown and we became empty nesters, I really took hold of the reigns and decided to make design a business for myself.
What do you want people to feel when they walk in your home?
My home is all about comfort. I want anyone who walks through my front door to feel like they could live here. I want them to feel like they can put their feet up on the couch, open the fridge, get a drink and really get cozy. That's what a home is. I also put a lot of time into making my home feel welcoming. If you have a guest, get flowers for the guest bedroom and buy their favorite brand of tea or coffee. Those little touches are a great way to convey that your home is their home for the next few days, and you want them to feel completely comfortable.
I also like for things to be out of place. It sounds strange, but those are the sorts of design choices that can actually make a home feel warmer. I do always look forward to visitors and friends and family coming by. It's always a treat to see their facial expressions when they walk through my door, because I change the house so often. It's never the same when they come back, ha!
I call my plants my "house kids" because I take care of them on the daily. I like to wake up in the morning, have a cup of coffee and walk around checking soil moisture. It helps me keep a routine.
What three things do you think every home should have?
If there are must-haves for the home, I would say that number one is definitely a comfy sofa. It's important to have that for family hang out time and lounging. Number two would be plants and, for me, the more the better! They give you clean air and life, and truth time: They are the perfect things to talk to when you have no one else around. They bring a feeling to any space in a way I couldn't put into words. Number three would be floor cushions. They can be purchased for way cheaper than a piece of furniture. You can use them for extra seating, fireplace reading, TV viewing and outdoor seating. They are multi-purpose and can be used in almost any interior or exterior space.
How was decorating your own home different than design projects you tackle at work?
What are your main sources of design inspiration? Any shops/websites/books you love at the moment?
I honestly have to say, when Justina Blakeney of The Jungalow released her book, The New Bohemians, I was totally glued to every single page. It has been the driving inspirational force behind the style I try to incorporate into my designs. She is a true inspiration in every way—as a person, a savvy businesswoman and as a designer.
Living in Ohio, we are very limited to access to mid-century pieces. Luckily, very close to Cleveland is the city of Akron. It's approximately 45 minutes away, and well worth it to visit Main Street Modern. It is a 50,000-square-foot warehouse with three floors filled with original mid-century pieces in every category—from pottery, art, furniture, you name it it's there or has been there in its day. I buy a lot from the store, and it's my major go-to for all things mid-century.
I can't leave out someone that gives me inspiration and daily guidance. Erica Reitman came to me as a friend on Instagram. She did a story on designers to follow on Instagram three years ago for HGTV, and she was so amazing for including me. I believe she was part of my launch in this world. Today, I can stand and say she is now one of my best friends. She's a designer with powers like no other. I think she has a cape in her closet that she secretly wears before she lets anything come out of her mouth. She is totally unique in how she writes and gives guidance. She's a very inspirational person to me.
Someone I love who you may not have heard of is Marie Olsson Nylander. She is a Swedish power stylist, and even if you've never heard her name, you have almost definitely seen her work on Pinterest. She is a force to be reckoned with. Her work and photographed spaces are the most repinned Pinterest posts ever. Being a stylist myself, she is a huge inspiration to me. I'm especially taken with how she always manages to create spaces so open, freely executed and curated perfectly in every way.
The flowers and potted plants in your home are gorgeous! How do you keep these lovely natural touches flourishing in your home week after week?
I call my plants my "house kids" because I take care of them on the daily. I like to wake up in the morning, have a cup of coffee and walk around checking soil moisture. It helps me keep a routine. I also have a day that I water certain plants once a week, and then another day for watering plants that only require water every two weeks. I clean their leaves and move them around the house to make sure they always get enough light. I speak to them—sometimes I have full on conversations. Sometimes I even play music and sing to them. Yep, I know this is weird, but it's also the truth. I believe having your own plant routine is key, and will give you the ability to have them flourishing in your own home in no time.
What makes you happiest while at home?
Having my business out of my home can really make for a cuckoo's nest sometimes. But I honestly love being home—it's very relaxing in so many ways. My porch plays a huge part in this in the summer. Being that we built our home with our hands, it gave us the ability to make everything comfortable and designed exactly how we wanted it. Sitting on my porch at any time of the day is the best thing ever. You can have coffee, lunch, work or just listen to music. I wouldn't change being home for anything. I feel most at peace when I am here with my husband and my dogs (I love my dogs!).
My home is all about comfort. I want anyone who walks through my front door to feel like they could live here. I want them to feel like they can put their feet up on the couch, open the fridge, get a drink and really get cozy. That's what a home is.
When styling the accessories in a room, how much is too much? Do you have any advice as to how to accessorize a space well without creating chaos?
I think styling is the key to success in any space. It's all about layers and textures and it can almost feel like a puzzle to get it right. I always like to go with odd-numbered groupings. So, for instance, you should have three or five items, square-shaped décor with round décor and layers of different patterns and colors. If you're doing a plant arrangement on a table, you want to make sure you use three or five plants. If you're leaning a square picture against your wall, place a round platter in front of it. When layering pillows on a sofa, you want to keep the pattern flow, but also incorporate texture and different pattern styles—it creates great depth as well as many different things for your eyes to take in.
That is one of my secrets to styling: You should be able to see red in the top left corner and then red on the bottom right corner. If you look at my photos, one color is always moving in the space. You don't realize it, but it's what makes the entire room come together in a way that flows.
How often do you craft DIY furniture and accents in your home or the spaces that you create?
I used to do a lot of DIY and refinish furniture for clients when that was the thing. Now it's really just to create for myself or a particular image I'm going for. Last year, I did five major DIY projects for Meredith Publishing company's Do it Yourself Magazine, that I'm featured in this month. One of them was a macrame sofa. I found the Victorian frame at a flea market and macramed the entire piece for the feature. I love when I think of something that is off the wall and then decide to take on the challenge. This year, I designed a lot of my own pillows and cushions, so I also designed some cedar benches to accommodate them for our porch. I think it's the best seat in town—they fit perfectly and are exactly what I needed for the space.
What’s your best design tip or secret for those on a budget?
I always recommend furniture outlet stores, as well as Craigslist and estate sales depending on the piece and style you are going for. IKEA is a great bargain, and always good for a temporary fix at a great price point. It's also helpful to add pieces in the home that can take up space and not break the bank—extra seating in the form of floor cushions, DIY painting, a huge plant, etc. My advice? Shop Craigslist for plants!
What are your biggest design do's and don’ts?
- Do use layers: This makes for a comfortable space with loads of eye candy. Be authentic while doing it, take risks and only use what you love.
- Don't copy: Just find your own authentic style, no matter what it might be. Don't create a gallery wall around a television. Buy a cool cabinet and put the TV inside it. The cabinet will make for the conversation and then add artwork to both sides.
What ingredients can you absolutely not live without in your kitchen?
My husband is called the "condiment king." He loves himself a good sauce. So, over the years we have tried and changed so many things. But one of my staples is the salad dressing called Garlic Expressions. It's great for salads, marinade, pizza—it's the all-around perfect dressing. Siracha is another favorite. We are a spicy food family. Not having a bottle available will sometimes create the need for a quick road trip to the store. #realworldproblems
How would you describe your personal aesthetic?
I am a very open-minded—sometimes very opinionated—person. I like to dress like my home, using unique pieces that you don't necessarily see in a typical everyday outfit. I love vintage clothing, Beyoncé music and my dogs. I can't get enough textiles in my life. I ooze comfort and demand style. I want nothing but the best for all, and I will support, help and do anything for my friends and family. I have been lucky enough to develop so many friendships on Instagram—real friendships. It's what it is all about—sharing and experiencing all you can with those around you. Instagram is a huge part of our daily lives now, and the relationships I've made on there are even bigger. I love dogs, all dogs, but my dogs are treated with all the love that I could possibly give. I have been with my husband for 19 years as of this year, and he is the best thing that has come into my life.
I am a very open-minded—sometimes very opinionated—person. I like to dress like my home, using unique pieces that you don't necessarily see in a typical everyday outfit...I ooze comfort and demand style. I want nothing but the best for all, and I will support, help and do anything for my friends and family.
What is the best design advice you've ever received?
Staying true to yourself is probably the best thing I've been told in my day. I have come a long way from that. I always tell people: Don't let anyone tell you they don't like your style. It takes all kinds to make the world go around. If your style is something different, it might just mean you're creating the next big thing. But staying true to yourself is what will really set you apart. That is a designer.
What’s next for you? Any future plans or projects you are able to tell us about?
My friends call me a hummingbird, because I never stop moving...and I'm usually going at about 100 miles per hour. My mind never stops, and I am constantly thinking about what's next. When I started my shop account @shopfleamarketfab on Instagram, selling just a few things I needed to clean out from photoshoots and home hoarding, I never thought it would be where it is today.
Five months ago, I started my own pillow line. I have always had Moroccan rugs in my home before they even became popular. When I was featured years ago, I had them in my home. The most-asked question of that feature was, "Where are your rugs from?" Since then, I have not only had them in my home, but also started making pillows out of them in ways that have not been done before. Doing this has set me apart from others out there. Now I have a large following and I stay consistent by having sales every other Sunday. I sell one-of-a-kind pieces, so every sale is completely different.
I have designed new and exciting things with my Moroccan family (who are now made up of amazing artisans I have connected with there). They make each and every piece for me. I have huge plans for some of my upcoming designs...huge. But they will be very exclusive. As I always say, stay tuned—wink wink! With all of this, I am and have been joining forces with Arhaus Furniture on some projects and designing pieces with them. 2016 isn't over, but 2017 is going to be even bigger.
Last year, I bought a 1972 Winnebago Brave, and I have big plans for her. She is a big redo project with big opportunities. That's a project I am beyond excited for.
- White sofa in TV room: Arhaus Furniture (similar)
- Pillows: @shopfleamarketfab
- Paint color: Alabaster by Sherwin-Williams
- Gold bed: Anthropologie
- Buddha statue: Amazon (similar)
- Mirror: Arhaus Furniture
- Pillow on bed: Loloi (similar)
- Raindrop Wallpaper Tiles: Hygge & West
- Leather Moroccan Pouf: Lulu & Georgia (similar)
- Kid's floor poufs, bed pillows and rugs: @shopfleamarketfab
- Dinette area Aja wallpaper: Justina Blakeney for Hygge & West
- Planters: Convivial Production
- Diamond pattern rug: Lulu & Georgia (similar)
- Rattan pendant: Bisque
- Porch seating cushions: @shopfleamarketfab
- Art: NG Collective Studio
- Wall weaving: The Dharma Door