The saying goes that one man’s “trash” is another man’s treasure, and that’s the truth when it comes to many of the amazing items found throughout Jane Riley’s home. Jane’s husband flips houses for a living, so many of the items left behind eventually find their new home inside Jane’s house. With her husband’s expertise and Jane’s graphic design and creative background, redesigning and updating their outdated new home came naturally. The result is a space that is not only beautiful, but highly functional as well. It’s seriously kid-friendly, yet super organized (the design of the kid spaces were actually inspired by her sons’ Montessori preschool), and we’re pretty much obsessed with every room in this house. Step inside and get ready to take notes!
We’re super obsessed with the airy, open vibe of your home. Has it been a big project since you first moved in? Tell us about the process.
It has been quite the process. My husband flips homes in San Diego for a living, so I knew that with his knowledge and expertise, I could turn anything into my dream house. We bought this house from an elderly woman who had taken very good care of it but it was seriously out of date. Because we couldn’t afford to just gut the entire house and remodel before we moved in, we remodeled in phases. The first step (before we moved in) was to pull out all of the old carpet and refinish the hardwood floors that were underneath. We scraped popcorn ceilings and re-textured walls. We also knocked down some walls that were separating the front living room from the rest of the house. Then we moved in. After living in the house for a year, we replaced all of the old windows, and remodeled the kitchen (when we bought this house, it had a very dark kitchen with blue countertops and linoleum flooring that was starting to have holes in it!). Our bathrooms are still from the ’80s when the previous owner remodeled them, and they will probably get done this summer—or maybe by Christmas. It’s a labor of love. We were lucky to find a house that was in very good, clean condition so we could/can live in the spaces that haven’t been renovated yet.
You’re a graphic designer and creative director, so style and design is obviously something you have an eye for. What are your top design requirements when purchasing something new for your home?
I want the stuff that I buy for my house to either be really functional or be something that I am in love with. I think this is a concept that everyone kind of already knows and aspires to achieve. Making sure that you are actually following through on the “functional/love” concept is another story. Because of my occupation, I am pretty obsessed with making mood boards. I have noticed that when I make a mood board or a general plan for what I want a room to look like, I don’t go around buying things I don’t need. Does anyone else fall into that trap of buying a few throw pillows at Target only to come home and realize they already own a million throw pillows from Target? And now they have a bajillion throw pillows that don’t match or make any sense? Guilty! So I try to make a plan and keep it minimal. When I am at a store and see a lot of things I really love I can mentally go through my plan and tell myself that I don’t need all of that stuff. The other thing I like to do is focus on one room at a time. Make a plan for one room, gather the items for that room that you really love or are super functional and then move on to another room. Don’t go back to “done” rooms until you have finished your entire house.
Tell us about the kids’ space. Where are your favorite spots to shop for kid-friendly décor?
IKEA! The boys room is filled with IKEA stuff. It is so minimal and affordable! Because the boys share a small room, I wanted to make sure that they had enough space in there to not feel crowded. I wanted that room to be functional, so when I told them to go to their room and play with toys for a few minutes while I get something done, they could actually walk in there and see their toys and their books easily. I also try to keep things low and accessible to them so I don’t always have to help them get things down. Their clothes, books and toys are all kept in white IKEA squares. Spice racks on the wall by their beds hold their favorite books and water bottles for bedtime. I try to keep all furniture and decorations minimal in the boys’ room because their toys and books are really colorful and visually a lot to take in.
The nursery is a mix of IKEA and vintage finds. The white ball chair was our main splurge for the baby’s room. Everything else we tried to get less expensive from IKEA, Target or thrifted.
Let’s talk about that amazing kitchen. Can you tell us about that design process and where the amazing wallpaper came from?
My husband and I designed the kitchen ourselves. The entire family spends a lot of time in the kitchen cooking, eating, playing games at the table, homework, you get the idea. We wanted it to feel open to the dining room and playroom. I mocked up a million different designs before we landed on this one. I used Adobe Illustrator to basically collage different Pinterest images together to show my husband what I wanted. I knew I wanted a bar that the boys could sit at to do their homework and talk to me while I made dinner. I wanted open shelving, but in the end, I love to hide messes easily and wanted to be able to shove everything in cabinets and out of site. We love the classic look of shaker cabinets and gold fixtures but we wanted to give the kitchen a little more visual interest and not just go the traditional/trendy route of subway tile backsplash (don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a good subway tile backsplash!). So we went with cement hexagon tiles from Clè Tile for the backsplash to give the kitchen just a little bit of a personality. I’m constantly wondering if the tile is too crazy? Or not crazy enough?
Your house has the perfect mix of clean style, yet kid-friendly. Any tips for creating a space you love while keeping it accessible to the whole family?
I had both boys in a Montessori preschool before my oldest started school. I loved dropping them off and watching them independently put their stuff in their cubbies, get out their mat and pick out a toy to play with, then clean it up and put it away before getting out another toy. I loved how the kitchen was down low for them to get their own plates, placemats and cups. I decided I wanted my house to feel like a Montessori preschool for my little ones. I want them to feel like they can pick out any toy they want and easily put it away without help. We have drawers and cupboards down low in the kitchen dedicated to their cups and plates and bowls. I have tons of bins and baskets that I can keep down low for them so they can get to their things and easily put them away again. Bolga baskets and IKEA storage containers help me keep my house looking clean and organized but still kid-friendly.
Where are some of your favorite spots to shop for unique furniture?
Like I said, my husband flips homes so he brings a lot of fun vintage stuff home from houses that his company bought. You would be surprised at the treasures that people leave behind—he restores them and then we put them in our house! He’s brought home Malm fireplaces, sets of Danish mid-century chairs (we are currently restoring a set of eight for our dining room), lamps, coffee tables, desks, etc. We either sell it or we restore it and put it in our house. Another of our favorite places to get fun furniture or decorative house stuff is at the Long Beach flea market. It is so fun to make a weekend trip out of it. Another place that I have been loving for furniture lately is Urban Outfitters. It has some fun unique things that don’t break the bank.
If you could go back and redesign one room, which would it be?
Well, I am still anticipating redesigning both of our bathrooms so I can’t even think about going back on anything yet. I can’t wait to get my hands on these old bathrooms. The first thing I am going to do is double the size of my shower!
Let’s talk beauty. Any beauty brands or products you’re currently obsessing over?
I am obsessed with finding pretty, minimal and functional beauty products and makeup. When I find something I love, I buy it over and over again. I have been pretty obsessed with Aesop’s body lotion. I LOVE Daughter of the Land oil—its packaging and products are wonderful. I cannot live without my basic Glossier products: Balm Dotcom, Boy Brow and Cloud Paint. Oh, and my Ghost Ranch J. Hannah nail polish! Those are the products I definitely pack in my overnight bag.
What’s your number-one tip for fellow creatives out there looking to launch their own business?
Just do it! You’re never going to be ready enough. You’re never going to have enough money/resources. It’s scary and hard for everyone. Just jump in and start creating. Share your work early and often (either on a blog or on Instagram or Dribble). The more you share your work, the more people can see what you are capable of and hire you for that thing. Also, the more you share, the more you get an idea for what works and what doesn’t (people will tell you what they like and what they don’t like). Don’t wait until you have everything just perfect to start your business. Start where you are with what you have and work toward your goal now. You’ll end up where you want to be a lot sooner than you think.
What’s on the horizon for you professionally? Any cool projects coming up?
I do have a cool project coming up! I am starting my own skincare line with one of my best friends, Vanessa Wade! We are wrapping up months and months worth of R&D on our first product and in the middle of formulating a couple of others. This comes from my obsession of wanting to find the prettiest, most functional, clean skincare/beauty products. Vanessa and I both just had babies this last year and felt like we were drowning in so many different products—for our babies, for ourselves, for the entire household. We wanted to simplify that a little, so we set out to make a body wash for a baby that we would want to use on ourselves, too. The idea snowballed from there and the concept for our entire line was born. We will be launching our first product in late summer/early fall and we are so excited.
Where are your favorite places to shop for fashion? How would you describe your style?
I tend to shop for favorite designer brands on secondhand sites like Poshmark. I don’t want to spend full price on my clothes (I think the concept of a “forever piece” is a myth and I like to switch things out often). I don’t want to feel bad about re-selling it in a few months if I don’t wear it very often. Some of my favorite brands that I buy secondhand right now are Jesse Kamm, Ilana Kohn, Esby and Dôen. Occasionally, I buy something full price if I really, really want it and can’t find it secondhand anywhere. I love to pair unique pants with basic tees or amazing shoes and old jeans, or a really special dress with old Converses. There is something about a good high/low combination that makes me so happy. I have been wearing my Jesse Kamm pants with a 10-year-old T-shirt I got at Old Navy almost every day. I love wearing my colorful Madewell heels with ripped up Levi’s. My husband tells me I look the most comfortable and confident in jeans and a T-shirt and I think confidence is probably one of the most attractive qualities a person can have. So, I try to keep that in mind when buying new clothes for myself. Am I going to be comfortable in that? Will I feel confident or will I be self-conscious?
You have a knack for styling unique pieces into your home without them looking awkward. How do you do that?
I honestly don’t know! I think it mostly happens because it is stuff that I got for free from my husband’s job so I just make it work!
“No army can withstand the strength of an idea whose time has come.” – Victor Hugo
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