A Cozy Cali Rental as Colorful & Quirky as the Photographer Who Calls It Home

updated Apr 30, 2019
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(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

Name: Jennifer Emerling
Location: Pasadena, California
Size: 650 square feet
Years lived in: Rented 6 months

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Jenn is a visual storyteller specializing in travel, editorial, and wedding photography. She considers herself a modern day explorer, particularly enchanted by her muse of the American West for its exaggerated folklore and whimsy.

(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

Jenn’s home base is a quiet back house in Pasadena, California that started as the perfect blank canvas for her to drench it color and effervescence. Can you believe she did all of this in less than six months? Every item is so perfectly chosen from places she’s traveled to or flea market finds. Her artistic spirit and her love for travel fills this space with joy, passion, quirk and tons of fun color.

Get the look! → Cotton Candy Modern

(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: My home is a mix of Californian contemporary, meets tokens from my world travels, meets flea market finds. Since I often work from home, I wanted my house to have a colorful and eclectic personality, as well as inspire me daily with displays of art, textiles and sentimental items that remind me of important moments of my life and my travels. Every single item in my home is something I truly love, has sentimental value, and brings me joy.

Inspiration: I’m heavily inspired by contemporary art, documentary storytelling, surreal and otherworldly landscapes throughout North and South America, vintage travel brochures, and the people I meet when I travel. Design wise, I’m drawn to the clean, modern look of Scandinavian furniture, and the bold, colorful prints worldly textiles. I sadly couldn’t buy a lot of my dream items since they were on other continents, so I got very resourceful and aggressively searched for pieces that had a similar feel through online stores and local flea markets.

Favorite Element: The vintage hanging school map from the 1930s is probably my most cherished possession. I love the colors and all the quirky details on it, like how map makers labeled Antarctica as “uncharted territory.”

Biggest Challenge: While I like the coziness and charm that comes with living in a small home, it was challenging to properly divide the space into distinct work / living areas. Thankfully the dining room converted perfectly into an office, and my California basement (such a rare feature around here!) is great for storing all my extra photo equipment.

What Friends Say: Most of them comment on liking how colorful it is and a perfect representation of me.

(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

Biggest Embarrassment: My yard. I’m lucky to have yard space, but I don’t have a green thumb and it really needs some love / outdoor furniture so I can actually sit out there and eat dinner on nice summer nights.

Proudest DIY: It’s probably the simplest DIY anyone can do, but switching out the legs of my IKEA furniture with legs that were more colorful and fun was incredibly satisfying and made my otherwise inexpensive furniture look like a custom pieces! I also firmly believe in the power of reupholstering your furniture to make it feel like new my beaten down, hot pink couch I found on Craigslist had new life breathed into it thanks to some mint fabric I sourced in downtown LA and a great reupholstery job.

Biggest Indulgence: My powder coated pink bed frame. It was a Christmas present to myself after 8 years of sleeping on an old bed frame that I inherited from a friend. I had been searching for so long, and the second I saw it I had a major heart eyes emoji moment as I knew that it was perfect for me and only me. It still makes me smile every single day!

Best Advice: Surround yourself with items that you love adopting. The KonMari method really helped me zero in on the importance of only keeping the things that spark joy. Think outside the box and embrace weird, unusual, and asymmetrical ideas for design and furniture selection. Use the internet to find inspiration, but don’t get so lost in the options that you end up just emulating other people’s style. Everyone has a unique life that can be expressed in their home, so be sure to stay true to your voice and personality.

Dream Sources: HAY, Normann Copenhagen, Amsterdam Modern, Kip & Co, Muuto, the textile markets of Morocco.

Get the look! → Cotton Candy Modern

(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)
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Jennifer considers herself a modern day explorer, particularly enchanted by her muse of the American West for its exaggerated folklore and whimsy. (Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

Thanks, Jenn!

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