Little Green Notebook: Genius Designer DIYs
My readers seem to enjoy projects from my own home even more than client project reveals. I think it's more exciting because it's more personal.
Five years ago Jenny Komenda began posting her interior design inspirations on her site, Little Green Notebook. Her specialty? Finding shabby vintage pieces that she transformed into gorgeous one-of-a-kind furniture worthy of Elle Décor. Today, Little Green Notebook is a wildly popular design destination that combines creative DIYs with beautiful interiors – and snapshots of her life in a downtown Manhattan loft with her husband and their 3 young daughters.
She's been featured on HGTV and in the pages of Vogue, House and Home, and yes, Elle Décor – and her interior design business is thriving. Lucky for all of us, she still shares her genius DIYs and home makeovers - and she was a recent inductee into the SAY 100 parenting channel.
We caught up with Jenny via email to find out how she mixes parenting and blogging, what design trends she's excited about this season, and how it feels to be Internet famous.
You've been blogging since 2007(!). What was your breakout post or posts that put you on the map? It's crazy to me that I've been blogging so long. I feel like a blogging dinosaur! I think the post that first got picked up by some of the big blogs (like Apartment Therapy) was the Make Shades Out Of Mini-Blinds idea. Other popular ones include DIY Ottoman from a Coffee Table and DIY Pelmet Boxes (made using foam core!). I look back on some of the posts I did back in the old days and sort of cringe a little at the photos and writing. I think I've figured out my rhythm over the past couple years, and it's easier to share an idea or tutorial in a more succinct, efficient way.
You mix a glimpse of family life in with your design and DIY projects. How do you find people react to the mix? And what's the right balance? That is the question du jour among my blogger friends! It's hard to know how much is too much when it comes to personal stuff. I feel like one in every four or five posts is a good balance for me. I like sharing some of my private life, but I don't like to put everything out there. I guess I think it's most important to keep posts in the expected theme of your blog. People come to my blog to see my projects and talk design stuff. My personal posts are sort of side notes, and even then, those should have some relation to design or fashion or food, or at least have a helpful tip woven in. There's a voyeuristic side of all of us, and I think that's why blogs have become popular. You fall in love with an author. But I've certainly read posts on blogs where the author posts an over-share that's way TMI, and I can feel all their readers collectively cringing. Even if it was a cathartic thing for the author, it gets weird fast when people share too much, at least for me. Especially when the blog usually presents as a professional site.
What are your all-time most popular posts? Besides the post about how I accidentally birthed my daughter at home (which was definitely a TMI! Ha! I should follow my own advice!), my hands-down most popular posts are DIY projects and room reveals. Though I have to say, my readers seem to enjoy projects from my own home even more than client project reveals. I think it's more exciting because it's more personal, just like how I enjoy seeing designer's own homes in magazines the most. I like seeing what they choose to live with everyday. Those are hard choices for designers, I tell you!
What opportunities has your site opened up for you that wouldn't have happened otherwise? My blog has been everything for me, professionally. I started Little Green Notebook at the same time I opened my interiors business. Every client that's ever hired me found me through my blog. I've been featured in most of the shelter magazines, done a handful of TV and radio shows, and will start working on my first book this year. Hopefully a fabric line too. I feel so lucky to get to share my passion for design and DIY on my blog every day, and it's really cool to get recognition for doing what I love.
You have a great eye for great interior finds. What is catching your eye this season? Thanks! I guess I'm known for loving lots of bright color, but I actually love bright colors most when mixed with neutrals and muddy colors. Right now I'm really loving burgundy, which is hilarious to me because I'm pretty sure a couple years ago I said in an interview that was my least favorite color! Ha! And of course, I'll forever love almost anything mid-century, French, or Italian, and I can be found scouring the Chelsea flea for these every weekend.
How do you like to work with advertisers or brands? I think it is critical for bloggers with monetized sites to be very, very open about sponsorships. It seems like there is a growing mistrust of career bloggers from their readers because of sneaky links and undisclosed sponsored posts (which are totally illegal as well as unethical!). The whole thing stresses me out enough that I really toe the line on my own site. I try hard to only work with brands that align with my style and the story of LGN, and I'm always very upfront about which posts were sponsored. So far there really hasn't been much of an issue from my readers and I think it's because the content hasn't really changed now that I work with an ad network.
You've been featured on HGTV, in Elle and other places and you're Internet famous now. Do people recognize you on the street in Manhattan? It definitely happens - usually at flea markets or fabric stores (though someone at Shake Shack said hi yesterday). People are so nice and usually want to just chat about projects or our recent move to a Brooklyn brownstone, or my kids. I love it most when they tell me about a project they finished in their own home inspired by something they saw on LGN. It makes my day!
What other parenting and design sites are your soulmates in style? Who else is doing it right? Oh my gosh! There are so many! I feel like my style varies, depending on the day, so I feel a style connection with almost every design blogger out there. :) I do admire my in-real-life blogger friends Joanna Goddard, Jordan Ferney, Gabrielle Blair, Caitlin Wilson and Jamie Meares. Also, I'm style-sisters with my lovely friend and former assistant, Colleen Carroll Nathanson, who is now a full time designer at Lonny.
What's something your readers would be surprised to learn about you? Here's three!
1. My college degree is in finance. I only took one interior design class - and I don't regret that. I love having a background in business and those years of cubicle life help me to appreciate my creative job now all the more!
2. I'm pretty thrifty, but I have no issue with splurging on fresh flowers for my home once or twice a week. Of course I love peonies, ranunculus and anemones best - like every other blogger! Hydrangeas are my least favorite flowers for some yet-to-be-determined reason (I have more in common with Madonna than I realized!).
3. One of my life goals is to get really good at portrait paintings. I'm horrible at portraits now, so I have my work cut out for me, but my sentimental heart thinks these would make for special gifts.
Follow Jenny on Twitter @jennykomenda