Jenna Sue doesn’t shy away from a tough project! Case in point: The Cottage. The blogger, turned print maker, turned designer, DIYer, and real estate investor (wow!) purchased the fixer upper and did a major overhaul on the California home. We caught up with Jenna Sue Design Co. to chat about the project and busy life!
Tell us a little about yourself and your business?
I started blogging in 2011 to document the renovation of my second home. A few months later I launched an Etsy shop selling custom art prints, which became a full time job later that year. I still have my Etsy shops (and sell prints directly on my website) but my focus is now mostly on design, DIY, investing in real estate and blogging about the process.
What’s a typical work day for you like?
The majority of it consists of either working on DIY projects or documenting/photographing/taking video/editing and blog writing. Both my husband and I work from home and our current renovations are within walking distance, so that has been super convenient. He’s able to DIY with me on evenings and weekends, and during the weekday is when I can focus on the content. Lately it has been non-stop as we’re trying to settle into a new house and prepare for the arrival of our first child next month.
How do you blend your love of interiors with photography?
I’ve slowly eased into photography since buying my first DSLR over a decade ago, and quickly learned how important it was for blogging (and communicating in general). Online, your design work is only as good as your photo, so you have to take the time to learn how to capture it properly. I still have a long way to go, but I enjoy the process and satisfaction of being able to evoke the right feeling through my lens.
Take us through the home, what was your vision when designing the space?
The cottage was very dark and outdated when I purchased it. I envisioned a clean, bright and open space that still retained the original character and highlighted its unique features and location in the woods. White walls, wood trim and black accents made it feel fresh and interesting, while natural textures, a soft palette and cozy layers kept it warm and inviting.
What is your favorite room in the house?
So much love went into all of them, but the upstairs bathroom has a special place in my heart. The brick floors, vintage clawfoot tub, the DIY vanity we built out of a desk and coffee table… to me, it’s pure heaven.
What, if any, were some of the challenges with bringing your vision to life?
I had a lot working against me. A tight budget and timeline, to start (the entire project was finished in around 5 months) but the biggest challenge was distance. I was living 3 ½ hours away in San Francisco at the time, commuting back and forth half the week and DIYing as much as I could in the few days I was there. I ran into issues with contractors, unexpected expenses, snowstorms and power outages that lasted for days. It was worth it in the end, but I vowed to never do a long-distance flip again.
For someone looking to revamp their home one room at a time, where would you start?
That’s a personal question that will be different for everyone, but I like to start somewhere that I spend the most time in, or on somewhere functional that would make life easier. Organization is very important to me, so having our bathroom vanity set up before moving in was crucial, as was having our kitchen cabinet storage systems in place. Apart from the basic needs and rooms that get the most use, it can be anywhere! I’ve always jumped around depending on what happened to be inspiring me lately.
What are a few design staples people should invest in?
This will also depend on individual needs and preferences. When it comes to quality, functional pieces are the most important (ie furniture—specifically couches, tables, chairs and beds) and you can usually take more risks with décor and other items.
What are your favorite places to shop for pieces?
I always look secondhand online first (Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, LetGo, Craigslist), and have been able to find almost all of my antique pieces at great prices. If I can’t find what I need there, Amazon has actually been my #1 go-to lately, followed by Wayfair, Target, Overstock, Lowe’s, IKEA—the more budget-friendly sources.
What’s on your home ‘wish list’ right now?
We’re still settling into a mostly empty house and there’s a lot to buy! I’m currently trying to hunt down the perfect sofa, chairs, living room rug, coffee table, armoire, dining chairs, canopy bed, master bedroom rug, living room curtains… the list goes on!
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Interior Design: Jenna Sue Design
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