We’re so excited to tour the bright kid-friendly home office of Jen Biswas on IBT today! Through her blog, Paisley + Sparrow, Jen shares life and style inspiration from her point of view; with two babies & a hubby at home in Minneapolis – and this is where all the magic happens! We understand the value in having a space that inspires you to create, but when you work from home, it also needs to fit with your lifestyle. Jen did just that, and describes her pretty space as “the perfect spot for creative work time as well as playing with my kids. :)”
When and why did you start blogging? How has your content evolved since?
I started blogging 7 or 8 years ago with my sister – we shared products that both of us liked since we had opposite tastes in just about everything. I evolved it into an ecommerce site full of products that were making a difference in the world in 2013. I added the blog back into the business in 2016 and moved it back into a full-time blog in April of 2018. It has been a constant evolution of growing and changing depending on what’s happening in my life!
Be it your home, content, or style where do you look for inspiration?
I’m constantly looking for inspiration! I love finding home and fashion inspiration when I’m out to eat at restaurants. I love seeing how they decorate everything – especially the restrooms! I feel like if a restaurant pays extra special attention to making sure the restrooms are styled, then you’re in the right place. Restrooms are a clear indicator of the overall culture of a restaurant. They are easily forgotten spaces but attention to this means they haven‘t left a detail behind. It also says a lot about the cleanliness in other spaces-like the kitchen! ☺ I also love seeing what other diners or servers are wearing and am always taking mental pictures.
I’m also always checking out Pinterest and magazines for style inspiration as well as content ideas. I love magazines like Better Homes and Gardens, Real Simple, Vogue and our local magazines!
How would you describe your decor aesthetic?
I recently spoke to someone who described it as “California Boho” which resonated with me so I’m claiming it! My style has always been very eclectic with a mix of high end pieces, vintage finds, DIY projects and of course, tons of plants! I love having plants for their look and pop of greenery, but also because they’ve been proven to help you be more productive, less stressed and more focused. My rule of thumb is to strive to have 3 plants per room!
As a creative, an inspiring space is a must! What were some of your goals in mind when designing the space?
Our office is the first thing people see as they enter our home, so I knew I wanted it to be welcoming, bright, and unique. I wanted enough open space for taking photos and shooting video (my office is the best spot in our house for natural light) but I also wanted a large desk for working. Since my office faces the front of our home, our kids are naturally in there a lot (especially in the winter) to see what’s going on outside! Because of this, it needed to be kid friendly too.
I really wanted a statement desk (I’d say my pink desk fit that bill!) and a giant gallery wall full of art work. It was super important to me to love everything in my office since I spend a lot of time in it working and being creative.
I love gallery walls and curating all of the pieces. This one has work from a ton of local MN creatives (I love supporting local artists!), vintage items (including my Grandma’s high school portrait), one of my grandma’s paintings, and of course some family photos! One thing that is super important to gallery walls is having things of different textures. I did this by including a wood piece by one of my former mentors who is now an amazing wood artist, Anna Bailey, and a weave by a friend I’ve know since high school who runs the shop, JunahWoods. The gallery wall went through about 6 different variations because it didn’t feel right to me and I didn’t love it. I tweaked and moved things until I finally got it to where it is now and now I’m love everything about my office!
Did you decorate it yourself? Were there any DIY projects you undertook to make it come together?
For the most part, yes, I decorated it myself! My husband helped a bit, but since this is my space in our house he let me run the show. He’s the best. 😉 Besides planting quite a few plants, I only did a couple DIY projects including painting the white plant stand and the small pink table.
Do you have favorite places to shop for home decor?
What does a typical work day look like for you? Do you have a normal routine?
Every day I’m up by 5:30am to do a quick workout and knock out a couple hours of work before my kids are up. We have a part time nanny, so on the days that she comes, I typically walk a block to our local coffee shop and am literally head down working for 5-6 hours straight with no break. Having dedicated time to think and write without little people around me is so important!
On days she’s not here, I’m going to the zoo or library or just playing at home with the kids until their afternoon naps. I try to get 1-2 more hours of work in during naptime (which doesn’t always happen ha!). My husband is super supportive and doesn’t mind when I work after we put the kids down, especially when I’m working on big projects.
Tell us a little bit about your beautiful family!
I’ve been married to my husband, Rishi for a little over 3 years! He’s a hunky Indian guy from California (maybe that’s where the Cali vibe in our home comes from!) who handles MN winters far better than I do. We have 2 kids who are 16 months apart. Roy just turned 2 and Penelope is 9 months! We also have a 3 year old rescue dog name Chloe.
What are some of your best tips for staying focused when working from home- especially with kids!
1. Have a dedicated work space. I know having an office is not practical for everyone, but find a place in your home where you can work whether it’s a desk tucked into a corner, a table in a spare bedroom or something that you can claim as your workspace. Prior to our home, I lived in a small condo. I converted one of my closets into a “cloffice” so I had one place in my condo to work.
2. Find time to work and take care of yourself when the kids aren’t around. I love my sleep, but working before the kids are up in the morning or after they’re asleep at night is guaranteed work time. That doesn’t mean they’ll never wake up early but I can typically knock off a few things on my to do list. I also prioritize working out, walking my dog and reading during this time as well. Obviously I don’t get them all done each morning but taking care of myself and my body gives me more energy in the day. On days I’m feeling overwhelmed I’ll take our dog for a long morning walk and pray before working. That helps me to feel ready for the day since I’m taking time for myself.
3. Have a to do list! If you’re a mama like me, you’re running in 500 different directions making 800 decisions in a matter of a few minutes. Once you finally get some alone time to work, often times your brain is going in so many directions that it can be hard to focus. Having a to do list helps me get going quickly and start knocking things off the list. I always have 2 lists going – 1 is what has to get done that week and the other is a laundry list of things I want done, blog post ideas or videos to shoot. I shared a ton more tips on this post on my blog.