Jessica Barnak from Kindred Creative Interiors not only has fabulous style, but she’s also quite the inspiration. Her entire business is built around the idea of creating personal sanctuaries. She believes that every space and every home should be a safe place. We love that!
1. What inspired you to become a designer? What has your journey been like?
As a child I remember my bedroom. We were not rich people, and my bedroom was not pretty. It had bare wood walls, old textiles and “vintage” (i.e. super old) furnishings. But that bedroom became the place that I relied on each day. It was my spot to be tidy and organized, clear my head, read my books and escape the drama that rested outside of those walls. I’m not sure I would be the same person today if I hadn’t had a bedroom to retreat to and escape it all. It would turn out that those 4 bare wood walls would save my sanity and be the beacon to my dream job.
Fast forward through college, a 4 year stint as a prison therapist (do not ask) and a 3 year stint as a child foster care advocate, and I landed on being a stay-at-home mom who created her own portrait business. I spent 10 years of my life as a children’s portrait photographer, always with that hidden love of creating sanctuaries within our homes. Because I was so focused on my portrait business, design took a back seat for a very long time until one day the universe essentially punched me in the face. In 2010 we were thrown a curve ball and my husband was transferred, for the 6th time in his career, 2.5 hours north of where we lived. It required me to close my business, say goodbye to longtime clients and start all over again. Only when I went to start all over again, it didn’t take.
The area we lived in couldn’t support a photography business. Every sign was pointing me in a new direction, and so in 2012 I was finally in a place where I could take the opportunity and time to reinvent myself. I wanted to take my lifelong love of design and aesthetics and turn it into my daily love. And so I did. I spent a lot of time thinking about who I wanted to serve, what I loved to do and what my end game was, and my interiors business was born from a place of service and change. I knew that I wanted to serve people who wouldn’t typically hire a designer – people who wanted beautiful homes like they see in magazines, but whose budgets wouldn’t allow the expensive finishes and the high-end furnishings that are featured ad nauseam.
I set out to create a business that could take any person anywhere in the world and teach them to recreate themselves within their 4 walls. I spent a few years working so hard to recreate myself and I wanted to give that same thing to people around the world who wanted to love their homes, but just didn’t know how to get there.
My business is mostly handled by FaceTime and Skype. I bring simple advice, tips and tricks to people all over the globe (as far as Australia!) for their spaces. It’s important to me to pay attention to their words, needs and budget and provide them with a step by step that they can follow to turn their home – no matter the size or shape – into their very own sanctuary, the same way I’ve turned my career into exactly what I wanted it to be.
This kitchen was created to fit family. Instead of a large, obtrusive island, we added a family style table in the middle to promote meal time, connection and family ties. Clutter was kept to a minimum so that the room feels more like a living space rather than a kitchen space, but still functions beautifully for cooking and entertaining.
2. How would you describe your design aesthetic?
I am an artist at heart, so design for me has to be beautifully functional but with a carefully crafted creative flair. Personally, I love a mix of mid-century modern and vintage glamour. I definitely lean toward minimalist, but love to bring in a surprise to my spaces that make people say, “I wouldn’t have thought of that, but I like it!” Your home should represent exactly who you are; it should be your fingerprint. I try to make sure I understand who my client is and what they are trying to say so that I can create a space that is unique to their energy and personality.
3. What was your favorite project(s)? Why?
My favorite projects are always kitchens and home offices. They are the heart of our homes and the heart of our passion, and I love to design both! Recently my husband and I had the opportunity to move again and we purchased a 100-year-old city home full of hidden gems. We knew going in that we were going to renovate and gut the kitchen, but we thought it would take a while. It ended up taking us all of 3 months in the house to decide that the kitchen wasn’t going to last very long and that we should just get on with it. So on a winter Tuesday night we took a sledgehammer to the wall and started demo on a very outdated, not particularly functional space. What we found was a glorious brick wall behind the drywall! It turns out that our kitchen used to be the porch of the home, and the brick wall behind the drywall was the original exterior chimney. Of course, being who I am, the brick was staying and the entire kitchen was designed to coincide and flow beautifully with this gorgeous original structure.
Due to the space being the original porch, we opted for a heated tile floor and these 1920s-inspired beautiful tiles. The brick was amazing, but the space needed an artistic flair to fit with our design sylte, and as soon as we received the samples of these tiles, we both knew we had found the one. Being the budding minimalists we are, we kept the space clean lined, simple and stuck with a tuxedo kitchen theme. The original space was choppy and not functional, so we opened it up, removed walls and opted instead for a 12-inch island that contained everything we need to cook and spend time together as a family. It’s definitely a unique space and the layout is something that always surprises people, but the functionality of this kitchen was immensely improved and we think it’s pretty special.
4. What’s your favorite trend right now?
I love that mid-century modern is having its moment again. The lines, textures, colors and artistic aesthetic are my favorites. I love how the mid-century design style promotes a space that is minimalist, light and airy laced with natural wood tones and modern lines. It brings in light textures, minimal accents and beautiful touches of mother nature – with wood or plants or natural rugs – and combines them all into a design aesthetic that is calming and current. It’s one of those design styles that promotes a simple home, and I believe it’s having a glorious moment in this decade because people are tired of coming home to clutter and disarray and every surface full of something. A little white space can be good for pretty much everyone and every home.