I remember when I got back to the U.S. after living in Italy for seven years, and people often asked me “how my trip was.” I never figured out how to sum up seven years of my life in a quick, conversational way, so, I usually just ended up responding, “great!”. Well, writing this blog post about my new book, “Jungalow, Decorate Wild”, feels kind of like that. I have been working on this book for about three years, but in some ways, it feels like I’ve been working on it my whole life. And summing up the book, or my feelings around it, in a few short paragraphs, won’t be easy, but I will do my best.
When I embarked on the mission to create the “Jungalow” book, I knew that color, pattern, plants, and vintage were going to be a big part of it. I mean, anyone who has seen any of my work could bet on that. But as I began to actually write the book, so many stories poured out of me–stories from my childhood growing up in Berkeley, my family, my relationship with color, my identity, traveling, living in other countries, my roots–and that’s when I realized that this book was going to be a more personal book. In so many ways, Jungalow is a reflection of who I am, how I was raised, the places I’ve been, and the people I’ve met along the way. And, in order to tell the story of Jungalow, I have to also share stories myself, why I am the way that I am — why I’m so passionate about plants and where that passion grew from, why I love patterns and how I first learned to create them. It was in thinking about the “why’s” that this book came to be.
The personal stories are the glue that holds this book together. But what I hope readers will also glean from this book, is how to tap into your own stories to create a home that lights you up and supports your dreams. How to pinpoint colors that move you so that you may surround yourself with them. How to train your eye to find the beauty in the little moments, so that then you can amplify them in your own home. How to add life to your home — with plants, natural materials, and by blurring the separation between the outdoors and indoors. How to take a cue from your roots and your travels to create a meaningful home, one that helps you feel more connected with who you are and who you want to become.
Big topics, I know. And my aim was to do all of this while also transporting you into a visual wonderland full of inspiration from inside the home and outside the home–and include tips, activities and ideas to help you get your creative juices flowing and move you to pick up a paintbrush, or get outside into nature and forage for color and pattern inspiration.
Writing this book has been a vulnerable experience. It’s hard to know these days how much of myself to put out there, how much to keep for myself, but it is my deepest hope that in putting myself ‘out there,’ my story will help you connect with your story. That sharing how I see the world, and my “why’s” will help you to examine your ‘why’s” and help you to feel empowered to create a home that you love.
And now for the thank you’s…
And as with all projects, I did not do this alone. This vision was brought to life with the help of so many incredibly talented people. I co-wrote this book with my husband, Jason. Jason is such a clear and deep thinker and has such a magical way with, not just words, but also concepts. When I hold the finished book in my hands I will always think about the long nights we shared in our casita, after Ida went to sleep, discussing color theory and biophilic design. I am so proud of him and of us for the words in this book.
The next shout-out is for Dabito, my dear friend and long-time collaborator who shot The New Bohemians books and also shot this book. But saying “shot” the book doesn’t really do him justice because working with Dabito, I don’t just get an incredible photographer, but I also get to work with a world-class designer and stylist, and a trusted sounding board for all things visual, and a friend who I get to share lots and lots of laughs with.
Sara Rose, who leads Partnerships at Jungalow also needs a very special shout-out. Besides helping to organize, style and project manage dozens of photoshoots for this, Sara was the first to read the chapters as they came out and give invaluable feedback along the way. Not to mention coming it at crunch time, with a newborn at home, during a pandemic, to help with things like the glossary when my eyes were crossing and I feel like I was losing my mind. Thank you Sara <3
The help from the rest of my team at Jungalow was also invaluable (Piper! Kelly! Kiki! Kim!) helped to bring the book to life with countless hours helping with photoshoots and packaging, and the newer members of the team (Jasmine! Tara! Danielle! Natalie!) who stepped in to lend a hand with book marketing and promotion and general support–all while carrying their regular workloads, and taking over many of my responsibilities in the business when I needed to step away to work on the book. Thank you all so much, I couldn’t have done this without you.
To the folks at Abrams, my publisher: Shawna, my editor, gave the book a special shine–and encouraged me to add more captions, dig into the text more, tease out great ideas (and edit out the not-so-great-ones), and the book is so much better for it. Deb, the art director and Heesang, the designer on the book brought A VIBE to the book design. I wanted this book to feel both timeless and quirky, modern and playful, exuberant and clean, and somehow they managed to deliver on all of my visions. Also, shout out to Gabby at Abrams PR for diving in to spread the word about the book and helping to make the launch both fun and seamless.
The pic on the cover was produced by my rug partners at Loloi Rugs, and it is such an honor to be able to showcase our work on the cover of the book, and inside the book as well, and I’m so grateful for our partnership with Loloi.
My literary agent, Kate Woodrow, believed in this book from the get-go and has been on this journey with me every step of the way making sure, not only the outcome was beautiful, but the process too. Thank you, Kate! And to my licensing agent, Kim, who is always there to support, no matter how tangentially related the project is to licensing (LOL) Thank you forever!
Sophia, Hayley, and Jessy from LaRue PR juggled an incredible amount of work on the lead up to this release — and help to land some very dreamy press placements for this. If you’ve been “seeing the book everywhere” Sophia, Hayley, and Jessy are the magic-makers on that front.
To Bubbie and Popop, (AKA Ronnie and Charles (Chalos) Blakeney, I have to thank for nurturing my creativity, for taking us on trips around the world when we were kids, to making me believe in myself, and for being very much the heart of this book — especially the Magic In The Mix Chapter. And to my other parents (my In-laws) Mary and Jim and Papa Denny and Brenda, thank you for all of the constant support and all the babysitting without which this book would have probably come out in 2026. 😛 I love you guys.
To my friends who have posted about the book and shared the love on your blogs, IG’s and beyond, I love y’all and thank you so much.
Lastly, I want to thank you – the Jungalow community, for showing up for me. This book is for you–it was only with your help that I was able to convince a major publisher that wild design has mass appeal, it was only with your help that I’ve been able to grow Jungalow into the force that it is today. I’m so grateful for you.
Photos by Sara Toufali for Jungalow