Home Decor

How California Designer Jenni Kayne Learned to Embrace Slowing Down

Plus, all the small but impactful changes she's made to her life at home.

July  2, 2020
Photo by Angi Welsch and Tessa Neustadt

Born and raised in Los Angeles, I’ve always identified with the California ideal of slowing down and appreciating life’s simpler moments. My favorite quote by Lao Tzu sums this up perfectly: “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” I’ve worked to keep that ethos alive both personally and through my brand, by trying to inspire women everywhere to live intentionally, and live well—whether that’s with a seasonal menu, timeless wardrobe, or a calming home interior.

At the start of the COVID-19 lockdown, I unexpectedly found my busy days replaced with a mix of Zoom calls, homeschooling schedules, and the needs of my three kids. Instead of rushing between school pick-ups, design meetings, my daughter’s horseback riding lessons, and our soon-to-be-finished LA home, like much of the world, I found myself at home all of the time. Just like that, the world had hit pause—and I had to follow. Yet, with all of my work in creating a company that invites women to slow down into the laid-back California lifestyle, I found that I was having a hard time doing so myself.

It took me some getting used to… until I realized that everything I was responsible for and loved the most was right in front of me, reaffirming something I’ve always held to be true: all that’s important starts and ends at home. Here’s how, over the last few months, I’ve tried to cultivate a space that makes one thing clear: there’s truly no place like home.

Jenni Kayne at home with her daughter. Photo by Angi Welsch and Tessa Neustadt

Focus on the details

Rather than viewing our abundance of indoor time as restrictive, I’ve tried to create joyful moments around my home through the small additions that make the everyday feel a little more special. I love candles because they’re the easiest way to make a room your own. I like to choose a scent and stick with it throughout my home, burning it from the bathrooms to the living room. I typically burn this Ash candle, but I’ve loved our new Topanga scent lately for the way it brings me right back to nature.

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“Use the lockdown to slow down from the horseback riding and home remodels. Don't worry if you skip a workout to create homemade flower arrangements. ”
— shipreich
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I also keep bowls of smudge bundles and sage around my house—I find that it adds some much-needed serenity to sometimes chaotic days. I’ve also been cleaning out my house of everything that we don’t use or doesn’t have meaning, which feels so good.

Make time to tune in to change

I’ve been trying my hardest to avoid watching the news for hours on end. Instead, I get my current event fix by listening to The Daily every morning, and I just finished the podcast 1619, which was a very informative perspective on how slavery has shaped America. I do a recurring group meditation with my friends Jakki Leonardi and Kasey Crown from WellSoul Workshops, and I’ve been moving my body as much as possible: whether it's riding, hiking, walking, or following along to Melissa Wood Health videos weekly.

Keep it simple—while thinking outside of the box

I’ve been ordering CSA farm boxes (my favorites are Edible Gardens, Farm Fresh To You, and Gjusta in L.A.), and I’ve become far more thoughtful about using what’s readily available to me, instead of craving for what isn’t. Having the chance to really think about what I can make with what I already have has transformed the way I approach cooking, and life more broadly. It’s brought to light the unnecessary things that can add stress to my day, like going to the store for one or two ingredients instead of taking inventory and being creative. I’ve learned to be much more mindful and flexible in the kitchen, and I hope to carry that with me far beyond these days at home.

This time has also reminded me to search for simple ways to turn everyday moments into a form of celebration. We’ve done this nightly just by moving around the location of our family dinner. Some days we set up a picnic outside, eat on the patio, or spread out and eat around the living room, creating a lighthearted feeling without much additional effort.

Make it a family affair

Having three kids makes each day wildly different from the next, and I try to find ways to connect with them through everyday tasks. I’ve been conscious of taking the time to set the table for dinner or making small, homemade flower arrangements to keep the everyday feeling special. It’s been fun passing these jobs to my kids, laying out everything we have on our shelves for them to choose from or setting them loose outside and letting them do their thing and find creativity in a chore.

Lean into life’s imperfections

I’ve also been doing a lot of baking with my kids, which has been a great reminder to embrace the unexpected. Whether it’s from Sweet Laurel’s cookbook or a Simple Mills box, I’ve been reminded of the simple truth that things can’t, and do not need to be, perfect all of the time. If my daughter Ripley wants to make brownies, we make on-the-spur-of-the-moment brownies, without worrying about things being perfect.

Whether I’m enjoying nature, working from my living room, or doing laundry more times than I can count, it’s been empowering to lean into the imperfect. With every homemade meal, newfound family activity, and floral arrangement comes a messy kitchen, missed workout, and unplanned mishap, and that’s more than OK. Creating a home that’s happy, healthy, and joyful means finding beauty and meaning in all of life’s moments—it’s been gratifying to make the most of them.

How are you turning the everyday into something a little more special? Tell us in the comments.

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Jenni Kayne

Written by: Jenni Kayne

California-based designer, entrepreneur and mother of three.

6 Comments

kim August 16, 2020
So here's how I have simplified, so as to be less stressed...no folding clean undies or socks. I just throw em in the drawer, they're fine! No napkins, paper or cloth, for b fast or lunch, just 1 select a size paper towel per set of hands. Into the cities compost bin they go. I meditate. While in line at trader joes. On how glad i am that they are open, how glad i am that they do require masks, how glad i am that my favorite week day (very good italian) wine is still only 5.99, on whether i should get 2 or 4 tins of their excellent smoked trout (dump 1 can Into a bowl, add lemon and crackers, there's lunch). Meditating on these very positive things makes me happy. I skip workouts now, as running up and down the stairs for (way more) laundry, home schoolling, dog care, kid care, packages being delivered, vacuuming because all our feet are now here all the time, and watering the 2 small but thirsty gardens we have started (and are too proud to let fail) keeps my pulse up. All. Day. Long. I too, relax with candles. They come in lovely glass jars, with lids, smell amazing, look beautiful...at about 6.99 a pop, i buy and burn them with absolute insouciance and a devil may care disregard for how many are on at the same time. I spray my rooms with some lavendar or eucalyptus oil in a little witch hazel. Appropriated this from my new jersey grandma. Hoping she does not mind...definitely clears the air and thinking of her moves my energy! I bought up good brownie mix when it was the ONLY THING LEFT in the baking aisle, months ago. We have 12 boxes. They are perfect. Every single time! Add half a bag of choc chips and some sour cream or yogurt. Melt the other half with some half and half for kind of a ganache and throw on top soon as they are out of the oven. Never fails. I have spray bottles of isopropyl alcohol (ordered from a veterinary supply by the gallon), in my car, by the door, in the garage, at every sink. Anyone or anything that looks, smells, sounds, or acts suspicious, or scary, I squirt copiously. (Just kidding. Not people. Not the ones I know anyway). I take a bath after my 6 year old gets out of it, thereby saving water and insuring that her father has to read the 2 princess stories required. EVERY NIGHT. This is very relaxing, with my 6.99 candles (3!), a spritz of lavendar witch hazel, and the last glug of Italian table wine. No time or need for further meditation. 1 episode of Bob Ross on youtube on my phone and i am OUT, Baby. With huge amounts of gratitude to all who make those luxuries possible for my family (and i am not kidding about that.). Love you, Food52, but you are meant to be possible, yes? Not just aspirational? (Ps - I'm a design professional, working still but barely, probably prime target audience for Food 52, and even I kind of choked on this article. Thus i had to take the vinegar out of it a bit. No harm no foul I hope.)
 
shipreich July 3, 2020
I know this is kind of the audience for this site, but it's a bit much. I've really liked the recent articles that include more diverse stories and design. This feels a bit tone-deaf. Use the lockdown to slow down from the horseback riding and home remodels. Don't worry if you skip a workout to create homemade flower arrangements.

 
jude1 July 4, 2020
Lordy! For many of us this is just daily life, without the $95 candle or $8 cake mix or the pat on the back for “leaning in.”
 
Itseliz July 2, 2020
Hi! I know we’re all trying to do better and I recommend looking into why Indigenous people consider burning sage cultural appropriation.
 
Arati M. July 2, 2020
Thank you so much for taking the time to point that out that crucial context; we'll be in touch with the writer about making that context clearer in the column.
 
jude1 July 4, 2020
But she finds it cleans the air and moves energy!!