There’s so much more to Janette than just a pretty home. Sure, she’s Head of Expansion for Homepolish in San Francisco and so we expect her to have a lovely aesthetic. But there’s a reason I’ve saved her to share with you until the first week in January and the month of fresh starts, especially for those of you in the midst of a change that threatens to shake up your life as you know it. Her advice from the other side of her own struggle is pretty wonderful.
So let’s get it started once again, shall we? Welcome, Janette!
Q: Tell us all about the ones who make this house a home.
A: Viv loves singing, coloring with Crayola Pip-Squeaks, dancing, pink, Frozen, leotards, kitties, and definitely not pants or egg salad. She was born in San Francisco (her middle name is Sunshine!), goes to HolaKids Spanish immersion preschool, and wants to be a sister.
I love textiles, fog on the San Francisco landscape, Big Sur, asymmetry, playing guitar, good friends, and heartfelt conversation. I grew up on a wheat farm in the middle of Kansas, studied at the University of Kansas, and now work with the interior design startup Homepolish as Head of SF Expansion. In any extra time I can find, I keep up Lovemade, an events series for families, and Sun + Dotter, a styling service.
Until last year, Viv’s dad lived with us as well, but he chose to leave our marriage. To say the least, it’s been a year of adjustments. But in a true act of redemption, I’ve learned and grown so much from the experience and am now a better role model for Viv than I ever was before. I thank God for the community and support I’ve been surrounded by…including two amazing girls who have moved into our home as roommates since these photos were taken!
(That, and joining my parents’ cell phone plan at age 32 wasn’t what I’d ever expected. But when life hands you lemons…you might as well get two live-in best friends slash babysitters.)
Q: How did this house become yours?
A: In SF, finding a good rental can be a full-time job! I’d had a flexible move-out date from my last place before this, so apartment-hunting was a bit flexible. After six weeks of looking, I knew this place was special as soon as I saw the Craigslist post for it: garage, backyard, fireplace, view of the Full House houses on Alamo Square Park. So I told the owners that I had plans during the open house, and could I possibly come earlier? They said yes, and I was the first to see it, and that’s why they offered it to me first!
I’ve now been here for four years and have become super close to my landlords, a couple who lives above us and really cares for me and Viv.
Q: Tell us why you love the place you live.
A: San Francisco is a beautiful, magical place. Amidst all my favorite city exploits of great food, coffee and shopping, there are stunning surprise views at the top of every hill. And when I need to get away, a short drive north, east, or south is full of endlessly soul-quenching outdoor spaces.
Especially with Viv, I love taking advantage of all the beaches, hiking, backpacking, and camping that I didn’t grow up with in the Midwest.
Q: How would you describe your aesthetic? What are the must-haves in your home that make you crazy happy every time you catch sight of them? (Besides your daughter, of course!)
A: I have such a hard time putting my own style into words. But my priority is for the space to be inviting, cozy, meaningful, and not too precious. I love my collection of plants, my varied assortment of textiles from around the world, and how I’ve balanced the Craftsman/Victorian interior with both a freshness and a timelessness.
One of my favorite spots in the house is the rug in front of the fireplace. My front room has enough space for two living areas. On one side is my sofa and sectional with lots of seating, for talking with friends or gathering around a movie.
On the fireplace side I’ve left the area open, which is a perfect play spot for Viv, for dancing or building towers or a tickle fight. The openness has proven great for hosting parties too, with or without kids.
Q: Do you think about utility when you’re designing a space to share? Or is it more important for you to be surrounded by beautiful things? Or are you somewhere in the middle?
A: I land precisely in the middle! Versatility and durability are so important for livability – even if you don’t have kids, in my opinion –but not at the cost of good style.
I get really excited about products that accomplish both, like beautiful flat-weave rugs that never stain, sofas with washable cushion covers, and toys that double as decor. Things that both kids and adults can love. This is the premise of my styling work with Sun + Dotter, and the events we host with Lovemade!
Q: Homepolish sounds like an amazing company! If you could tell us only one favorite thing about the company, what would it be? What is your role in the company? Tell us what your professional life adds to your personal life.
A: Homepolish is democratizing interior design, making it attainable not just for wealthy home-owners, but for anyone who values living or working in a beautiful space, on any budget. That’s my favorite thing about it!
But a close second is how we’re able to catapult the careers of some incredible up-and-coming designers, who would otherwise not be able to work full-time on their own.
My role is Head of San Francisco Expansion, building brand awareness throughout the Bay Area. I get to work on everything from publicity to startup partnerships to interior design. It entertains every part of my brain, which suits me well!
Q: Describe a typical work day as it transitions into your home life. How does your space make your life and your daughter’s life easier within that day?
A: I am fortunate to be able to work from home, because my team is based in New York. I used to have a desk in my bedroom but never used it, always opting to sit in the front of the house instead. So I work from either my dining room table or a vintage school desk-chair that I can place anywhere if I need a change of scenery. Without a set workspace, it keeps me tidier, because I don’t let piles add up!
When Viv comes home from full-time preschool, I do my best to be all about her and stay off my computer until her bedtime. We cook dinner and hang out, with roommates and often other friends around.
After she goes to sleep is when either the wine or the laptop come out – depends on the day!
Q: What do you hope your daughter remembers from this very moment in her childhood in this very house? And what do you hope she conveniently forgets! (Sometimes, that’s the more important answer, right?)
A: I hope she remembers how much she loves to make art, to decorate, to sing, and to dance. And the love, care, and intention I have for her, which is my number one priority these days.
I read once, “Your words become your child’s inner voice,” which I take to heart every day.
I hope she forgets how little I cook!
Q: What has been your favorite part about living with your daughter? What is the one thing that has surprised you the most about being a mom?
A: With a three-year-old, every day is a new laugh and a new surprise. That’s the best part. Lately Viv has been singing Elsa’s “Let It Go” and Edward Sharp’s “Home” with ridiculous accuracy, and then launching into Charlie Chaplain-like dance moves. That, and how she loves me so much and never lets me forget it. Her cuddles are irresistible.
Every bit of being a mom has been a beautiful surprise, because I actually dreaded it, fearful of losing myself. It’s hard now to believe how wrong I was. Being a mom has been the most natural and empowering thing I’ve ever done.
Q: Please finish the sentence: I wish someone had told me…
A: What comes to mind isn’t so much about what I wish I’d heard, as what I’m so glad I did hear. In facing my divorce, some friends told me early on to use the experience to become the kind of woman I want to be, and – maybe even more powerful – the kind of role model I want to be for Viv.
That framed my entire past year, being able to face grief with my chin up, learning to constantly process and grow. To lean into my true identity, not the ones I’d manufactured for myself.
So if there were one thing I wish someone had told me, it would be to be a student, and to be patient with myself. And that in a year…it will all pay off.
Be a student, and be patient. Priceless wisdom, Janette, and much appreciated. I know your words have impact. I sincerely wish we had met you sooner so we could’ve cheered for you through the past year, but we’re here now to root you on!
How is everyone doing on your 2015 goals? Or maybe I should ask how everyone is doing with your lives? Are you using your experiences to become the kind of person you want to be? I hope so. It’s been said that a lot can happen in a year, and it’s my wish that your lot in 2015 is nothing short of remarkable.