Justina Blakeney shares the Kismet behind a vintage loveseat.
My grandparents, Bette and Art, were very special people. Their way of being in the world has greatly shaped who I am today. They were giants in my life: adventurous, generous, wise and loving beyond measure. Travel was a priority for them and each year they brought home exuberant stories, photos and memories to share from remote pockets of the earth. Their beautiful home reflected their hectic life.
In the background of my sweet and earliest memories of them – and this house – was a lush pattern of lovebirds and tropical flowers that covered the walls, curtains, and furniture in blues and grays. It was all over their house and it was wild.
I thought about this house a lot while writing my new book, Jungalow: Decorate wild. I thought about the model and how he made me feel that I too was venturing into remote pockets of the earth. I’ve written about the experience and its impact on me in my new book, and I’ve even included photos. It was, after all, the genesis of my obsession with botanical motifs – which is an integral part of the Jungalow brand and my personal style.
Now that I am decorating my own family home, I am trying to channel my grandparents. I want my new home to feel like theirs: an artistic and gathered place of fun, attention, festivities, music and laughter; a loving place that encourages imagination and exploration.
On the day of the book launch, with a few minutes between virtual events, I found myself shopping for my new home, mindlessly scrolling through the “new” section of a vintage online marketplace. Suddenly I stopped in the middle of the scroll.
A loveseat. The reason. I stared, then gasped, and just kept nodding. My heart was beating, I felt a momentum. I captured the sofa and zoomed in. My eyes went up and I felt a warm emotion wash over me. It was the same fabric. The same pattern. The exact same loveseat my grandparents had at home.
It was like a hug from my grandparents on the day I launched my book, a book I had worked on for almost three years and dedicated to my grandfather Art who passed away last September. I could hear my grandpa’s voice in my head, “You did good Tina-li! and my grandmother adding her East Coast accent, “So when will you know if this one makes the New York Times bestseller list??!? I smiled at the cabinet that brought my grandparents back from the dead for me on my book launch day.
Needless to say, I bought the loveseat.
Upon her delivery to my new home, seeing her in person, I again felt the rush. It brought me home like a familiar cologne smell can.
The loveseat doesn’t match the carefully curated vibe I’ve had in the house so far. Colors are a wild and weird addition to my color palette. I don’t know where it will end up living. It’s totally hit and miss, and by far the most wonderful room I have found for the house. It’s a time machine. I sink in and am brought back to them. I look at the pattern and hear my grandfather’s deep voice echo through the room as he beams.Bette, take the camera! I smell the matzo ball soup broth on the stove and I feel my grandmother’s hand on my knee as she asks me: “So what is going on? Her manicure is on point.
All of a sudden, my new home is taking root. It starts to tell my story.
I believe that a truly beautiful home is not about the perfect colors or expensive furniture. My grandparents’ message came out loud and clear: really beautiful house is all about love. After all, it’s not every day that your grandparents send you a loveseat with lovebirds from the grave on the day of a book launch. Message received with gratitude.
Justina Blakeney is a designer, author and creator of the beloved blog turned brand Jungalow. His third book, Decorate wild, is out now.
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