Justina Blakeney's New Book Is a Blend of Memoir and Design Guide

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Justina Blakeney couldn't have predicted that we would spend the past year clamoring to figure out how to best "invit[e] outdoor feelings inside," and yet it's an answer she provides with her latest book, ​Jungalow: Decorate Wild​, which debuted this month​.

The designer, artist, founder of Jungalow, and author of the ​New York Times​ best-selling book ​The New Bohemians​ has struck gold — or should we say greenery? — with this large, vibrant book, which teaches readers how to sidestep minimalism in favor of bold colors, exciting patterns, and unexpected shapes. It's the mood-boosting energy we need as we envision life, and our living spaces, after quarantine.

At just under 300 pages, ​Jungalow: Decorate Wild​ is full of vivid inspiration, and Blakeney's passion for the world of home decor and design comes through on every page.

"Nature is a huge source of inspiration for me," Blakeney, who embodies the spirit of ​Jungalow​ in everything from her stellar outfits to her much-followed Instagram feed, tells Hunker. "But it also has powerful healing qualities. Research shows that being in nature can reduce stress. Some studies even show that hospital patients with just a view of nature had shortened recovery times. So after the year we have all had, if you can't always get out into nature, why not bring it into your home?"

It's a worthy goal, and one that she helps us accomplish through handy tips and techniques. "My favorite ways to bring the outdoors in are incorporating houseplants, organic shapes, natural materials and lots of natural light (you can position a mirror across from a window to amplify the light you get) in any space," Blakeney explains.

Blakeney made a unique decision for the book: Here, she has woven in her own personal narrative, from the story of her family and the foods and decor she grew up with, to stories of adventuring into design and finding flea market favorites.

"This book is more personal than any of my other books," she says. "I share a lot about my parents, my childhood, and my mixed background. It was a deep dive that felt overwhelming at first, but now those stories are some of my favorite parts of the book."

Her identity shines against the book's colorful backdrop — both literally and figuratively — and impressive full-sized photographs by designer Dabito. We walked away from this read only feeling even ​more​ invested in Blakeney's narrative and work.

Whether you're looking for more in-depth and doable DIYs to tackle or are seeking a starting point for thinking about your own design philosophy, the icon wants to welcome you into her plant-filled, lively, and textured universe. She doesn't just want to steer you toward maximalism, or shame your love of neutral hues; instead, she wants you to get just what ​you​ need out of this memoir-slash-design-guide.

"I hope [readers] feel free to ignore any design rules (or break them!) and tap into what lights them up — whether it's a memory from childhood, a place they love to visit, or a natural element, like water, that brings them peace," she says. "Those are always the best places to draw inspiration from. The colors, textures, patterns, and scents associated with those places and memories are great building blocks for rethinking a space in a home."

From chapters like "Passion for Patterned Plants" to ideas for creating pillow-filled nooks, that personal touch exists throughout this read.

"I hope readers feel free to play around and experiment with different colors, textures, and even furniture arrangements. Our homes are just like us — always evolving — so why not try switching things up a bit and seeing how you like it?"


Rachel Charlene Lewis is a writer and editor. Her work has been published in Vogue, Allure, Refinery29, Domino, and elsewhere. She is @RachelCharleneL across the internet.

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