Bohemian design with Justina Blakeney | Home Front

Justina Blakeney
Sep 08, 2016

“The New Bohemians” author, Los Angeles-based designer, artist and blogger Justina Blakeney credits her California upbringing, multi-ethnic family and extensive travel for her boho aesthetic. With a passion for color, pattern and plants, Blakeney’s blog,, has become a go-to source for free spirited design inspiration. She's currently working on another book as well as lots of new products.

Every week, Jura Koncius helps you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss. She and weekly guests, whether Martha Stewart, the Property Brothers or Nate Berkus, answer your decorating and design questions. Jura is always happy to whip out her paint chips, track down a hard-to-find piece of furniture or offer her seasoned advice on practical living and decluttering. For more than ten years, Home Front has been an online conversation about the best way to make your home comfortable, stylish and fun. We invite you to submit questions and share you own great tips, ideas and gripes. No problem is too big or too small, send them over.

Justina Blakeney who pens the blog The Jungalow is the author of The New Bohemians”  The Los Angeles-based designer, artist and plant lover, Blakeney credits her California upbringing, multi-ethnic family and extensive travel for her boho aesthetic. With a passion for color, pattern and plants, Blakeney’s blog,, has become a go-to source for free spirited design inspiration. She's currently working on another book as well as lots of new products. Here are some fun and fab ideas she recently discussed with me for keeping that summer vibe in your interiors. Read the story here. Thrilled to have her on the chat.

Good morning friends! I'm Justina and I'm happy you could join me this morning (and thank you Jura for having me!) I'm a designer, artist and mama with a Bohemian heart. I'm all about Jungalow style -- which is the name of my home, blog and brand that is all about decorating with color, pattern and plants! My book, The New Bohemians exemplifies that spirit. I'm excited to be here and (hopefully!) give you some insights into how you can make your homes more jungalicious :) 

Hi Justina - love your style! What are your suggestions for people who prefer cleaner lines and a less layered style, but still want to bring in some texture, warmth and personality with a bit of boho style?

Hi! I think the two most simple ways to bring in a bit of boho are to 1.) Add plants! Plants, especially ones with more of a 'modern' feel like a fiddle leaf fig of a split leaf philodendron will instantly make your home look more fresh/relaxed/boho. The second way is through textiles -- and they don't even have to be super colorful. Use can use contrasting textures to get a bit of boho -- like a faux sheepskin pillow paired with a pillow with tassels -- even if they are both neutral in color. 

Hope that helps!

I know in California you can have a lot more exotic plants than we do on the East Coast and keep them outside. What are your favorite exotic plants for indoors?

Hey there! Yay! I love talking about plants :) Some of my favorites are the Zebra Plant (I love how their striped leaves bring in pattern along with color). I also love the Sago Palm --- because they look like tiny palm trees so they give instant vacation vibes (be careful if you have pets though because they can be toxic to pets if ingested). I also love the Jade plant -- they are so easy to care for and are great for filling out window installations. Happy planting!

Could you explain this term? Is the "jung" part about Carl Jung, the psychiatrist, or maybe about the jungle? I can't quite square either of these with "bohemian," so maybe I'm just missing something.

Ha! Yes, I'm happy to explain. The word is meant to be a combo of Jungle + Bungalow. While both my parents are psychologists--my brand has nothing to do with Carl Jung. The Jungalow style is meant to be wild (jungle) and cozy (bungalow). Thanks for hanging out with us this morning!


What would be a good color for a stairway that doesn't get much natural light. I'm guessing something neutral/off white, but there are so may options, I'm overwhelmed!

When there is an area with little natural light, I like to paint a warm neutral -- I recommend White Dove by Benjamin Moore, and Pointing by Farrow and Ball-- and then I add a lot of reflective surfaces -- like mirrors to reflect the existing light. I also like to use wallpapers with metallic accents to darker areas, like my Cosmic Desert wallpaper in gold. The gold picks up the light and makes the environment sparkle. Happy decorating!

Do you have a little known design website to share?

Hi! Thanks for being here! One of my favorites is Old Brand New --but honestly I find myself perusing hashtags on Instagram to get home decor inspiration from all over the world. The #JungalowStyle hashtag is a really great place to start! I also  really love #FindItStyleIt and #IhaveThisThingwithTextiles. 

What is a good website for finding interesting fabrics?

I get most of my fabrics on eBay! I find vintage suzanis from Uzbekistan and Turkey, Indigo fabric from Mali, mudcloth, Otomi fabrics from Mexico. It's really amazing what I have found there, and mostly at very reasonable prices. 

What is your process for finding pieces that give a room a sense of personal yet jungalow style?

Hi! Thanks for being here! I love to scour markets (online and IRL) for pieces that speak to me. I also love collecting items from my travels. I just get this gut feeling like 'this thing makes me feel all the vibes!'

One thing that I like to suggest is to keep the larger pieces --the ones that are there to serve functional purpose -- like a sofa, bed, or dining table -- a bit more neutral. You can layer on the personality through smalls like art, sculptures, textiles, 'tchotkies' and PLANTS! That also makes it easier to swap things out and around when need be. I also like to remind folks that this should be fun!! You'll know when you find the right thing because you'll get all excited and have that 'I just love this' feeling :)

Hi! Do you have any suggestions for decorating/designing a non-permanent space? It's an older apartment in NYC that we cannot make renovations on but still want to Jungalowfy it! Thanks!

Most places I've ever lived in have been rentals (and I've decorated plenty of client homes that were rentals as well). It's totally possible (and fun!) to get the jungalow vibe in a rental. I have two recommendations and this first one may seem a bit drastic -- I would resolve to lose the security deposit. Once you do that, you can paint, hang art, swap out the light fixtures to your hearts' content. If you plan on living there for a least a few years I think its worth it to make the place feel like yours. 

If that's not an option, colorful rugs, floor lamps, fun window treatments and big statement plants like Celebration Palms or a huge Euphorbia Ammak will add a ton of character and you can hang on to that deposit.

Enjoy decorating your spot!

But I just want to say I love, love love your Aja wallpaper.

Oh I like your 'not so much a question' :) Thanks -- I really love it too. I have it up in my family room and it makes me happy everyday. Thanks for your kind words. xx

I follow you on Pinterest and love your aesthetic. I have a vanilla colored two story family room, and am looking to warm it up. I have a faded turkish rug with blue/green and pinkish floral pattern, and a sectional that is stone color (neutral). Any suggestions? I live at the beach and love that vibe, but at the same time don't want it to look like a beach rental house.

Thank you so much! What kind of lighting do you currently have and what's your natural light situation? 

Wasn't sure what my design style was until I looked at your New Bohemians book. Q: There is square area adjacent to the living room of my craftsman style bungalow. Lots of Windows. I do have a circular shag rug that fits the space and one Danish modern chair plucked from my parents garage plus a fairly large - ok, giant - Palm. What can I add by way of chairs (styles?) or anything else that can bring some use to the space for general hanging out? The rest of the decor in the house is eclectic, to say the least. This space has really stumped me.

Oooo that sounds really pretty! Is is possible to have built in benches made to fit underneath the windows? You could fill them with a fun mixture of pillows and then have a few modern chairs (including the one you have) opposite the bench?

Otherwise, maybe look for something from (or in the style of) Percival Lafer? I love the way his stuff pairs with the modern Danish vibe, but is still super cozy/comfy.

Happy decorating!

I just had a second to glance at a few of your pictures, but those excellent blue bathroom tiles jumped out at me right away. Where did you get those?

Thanks yes I love them too! They are hex tiles from Fireclay Tile in Adriatic Sea. You can read about the whole bathroom renovation in this post and get all the juicy details. 

Hi!!! Justina, I love your style!! You inspire me every day! I rent a house in Boca Raton, Fla. I am looking for design tips for our baby's nursery. We only have 3 walls to work with because one is taken up by a closet with mirrored doors. And two of the other walls have windows. The paint color is a bad peach-beige (barf)! I also grew up in Calif., in the 70's (San Francisco) so my aesthetic is bohemian. I like lots of textures, patterns, and color. I can usually make it work but for some reason my sensibility is backfiring when it comes to his room. It feels cluttered and the energy is way off! Hard to see without a picture, but I'll take any advice you can give!! Thank you so much!!!! Xo DN

Hi there! The room sounds like it has pretty bones!! I would try adding round furnishings that can float in the room don't have to be flanked up against the wall/s. 

Also, if the energy in there feels off you may want to take everything out, do a deep cleaning and then sage it to rid the room of any stagnant energies in there before trying any new decorating. Sea salt spray can also help with changing the energy -- and with both the salt and the sage, be sure to get the corners of the room :)

Have fun with it!!


What are some ways to use plants that are (relatively) kid-proof? Potted plants, especially those sitting on the floor, just scream "messy accident waiting to happen" with a toddler underfoot.

Hi! I have two ideas for you:

Include the little ones in the whole process. Bring them with you to the nursery and have them help you pick out the plants. They can help to repot them and help with the watering. My 4-year old helps me with our plants and I find that she really respects them because of that. Also, if you put river rocks on top of the potting soil, this can help with the soil spilling over if they ever do get into them.

 My second idea is to hang trailing plants from high shelves or curtain rods. Pothos and Spider Plants are some of my favorites. Just make sure to hang them high enough that those cute little fingers won't be all over 'em! Ha! 

Happy planting!

OK, then our first apartment when we were penniless grad students (think 1968) was jungalow for sure! Curtains made from those ubiquitous Indian print throws, bright paper accessories from Pier One, spider plants, and of course trendy concrete block and board bookshelves! We just didn't know what to call it!

That sounds like a jungalow alright :D

We now know more about your cool bungalow and your favorite plants and your own boho style. Thanks for being on the chat today. What fun. Meanwhile, next week join Matt Muenster host of DIY's Bath Crashers as he co-hosts my chat before an appearance at the Capital Home Show Sept. 23-25. Until we meet again.

This has been so much fun! Thanks so much for hanging out and I've loved hearing about your homes and hopefully answering some of your questions. See you on the blog or over on the Jungalow Instagram



In This Chat
Jura Koncius
Jura Koncius is a Washington Post staff writer who specializes in home and design. Read her daily twitter feed @jurakoncius for the latest in decorating trends, shopping, decluttering, organizing and DC retail.

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Justina Blakeney
Los Angeles-based designer and artist Justina Blakeney’s blog,, has become a go-to source for bohemian design inspiration.
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