Designer Spotlight: Jen Pinkston
Jen Pinkston has never regretted making big statements with tile–in her view, the more tile in a space the better (we can’t say we disagree). The former Hollywood stylist and founder of The Effortless Chic considers each tile an individual work of art, which makes each of her stunning designs its own miniature gallery from the pink herringbone bathroom to the graphic black and white kitchen.
We chatted with Jen about the similarities between fashion and interior design, the process of renovating her sister’s builder-grade house into a meaningful home, and why she believes you should embrace the designs you love–even if they’re (gasp) trendy.
Sample Jen's Fireclay Favorites:
Can you tell me a bit about yourself and what you do?
My name is Jen Pinkston and I live in my hometown of Austin with my producer/creative director husband and two daughters, 5 and 8! I spent 10 years in Los Angeles as a wardrobe stylist and a blogger at TheEffortlessChic.com back in the original days of blogging! I now run La Paloma, a line of artful pieces for women and kids to sleep, lounge, and play, but still enjoy connecting with our original community over travel guides, favorite recipes, and home projects!
When did you first become interested in design? How did you get your start?
I feel like we tend to compartmentalize design by industry– fashion, interiors, art, industrial, etc when really these are different mediums for expressing a unique point of view. It’s why people in theatre tend to have a great eye for art collecting or interior designers usually have a great sense of style! I always knew I wanted to be in the fashion industry. I was still styling when we bought our first home in Los Angeles and designing it felt like just another styling job. Scale, color, print– the same elements apply to a well-appointed bathroom as a well-executed red carpet look.
Can you tell me about your design process? What is your favorite part?
There’s usually an anchor to the space. In the bathroom, we recently did for my sister it was led by the dreamy varying shades of pink and the ability to go so bold with the color in that space. Everything else is formed around that initial concept.
In our kitchen, the anchor was the glazed brick backsplash which is still one of my favorite parts of our home, 5 years later!
In our dining room, it’s a pendant light we found while visiting Stockholm. If you’re unsure where to start, find one concept or piece you love and make all of your other decisions around that one thing.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
Artful, meaningful and always changing. I like building a space piece by piece. As I look around my office right now it’s layered with beautiful coffee table books that were gifted to me for my birthday by my close friends, the industrial red stool that my daughter picked out when this was her homeschool space during the pandemic, a piece of coral that we found washed up on a beach last summer on vacation. There are some more permanent anchor pieces like the Nelson X-leg table I use as my desk or the Herman Miller daybed but as our kids get older, our careers take turns or our aesthetics begin to change, I like for the design to be fluid and always reflective of that.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Nothing is more inspiring to me than travel! So cliche, right? But there’s something about being untethered from the day-to-day routine that feels creatively expansive, in addition to being exposed to the new textures, colors, and architecture in those places.
What are your 3 best design tips?
1. YOU have to love it. Not your designer, not your best friend, not your neighbor.
2. It’s okay to be on a budget. Splurge on the focal point or most important aspect of the space and find ways to save in others. In our kitchen, we splurged on floating rip-sawn oak shelves and the beautiful glazed brick backsplash but saved by using paint-grade cabinetry.
3. If you love it now, it doesn’t matter that it’s trendy or your taste may change. Better to want to update it in 10 years than to spend the next decade living in a space that isn’t reflective of your own point of view and personality because you didn’t want to take a risk.
How do you factor sustainability into your designs?
It’s something that I think about a lot in our home and in my career with La Paloma. I think it comes down to using natural materials as much as possible– things that come from the earth like cotton and clay– and using well-made things that will stand the test of time over rapidly replaceable items. Fewer better things always.
Why do you like using tile in your designs?
The tile is everything. It often feels like the canvas and backdrop for everything else. You get to play with texture, scale, pattern, and color all in one element. I love especially with Fireclay that you feel the natural earthiness of the tiles. They’re truly little individual works of art. It gives so much life and depth to a space!
What made you choose the 8 colors in your palette?
You guys make choosing colors so hard– there are so many great ones! I chose these because they spoke to me. Some bold, some subtle, some earthy. I like having all of these things in the mix in a space.
Let's talk about your most recent project. Can you tell us about this home? Was it a remodel or renovation?
My sister and her wife live about a mile from us! They’re the reason we moved into our neighborhood which we adore so when they said they wanted to update their home I was excited to help! They bought a new build, designed by the builder and it was lacking in real personality or anything that felt reflective of their own perspective.
What were the goals for this space? What sort of look were you going for?
I wanted it to feel like them and feel special, not like any other space you might find in the neighborhood.
What was the inspiration behind the pink bathroom? What made you choose those colors?
They both love color which was fun to begin with. We fell in love with the Mesa colorway but wanted to add variation with Adobe and Painted Sky.
How about the kitchen and the fireplace?
The funny thing about open floor plans is that once you start in one space all of a sudden all of the adjacent spaces start calling out for their own updates! We wanted to go with a more graphic-but-earthy black and white palette in the kitchen.
The fireplace was just begging to be included so we went with the thin brick in Bitterroot. (Have I mentioned that I am obsessed with Fireclay’s thin brick?!)
You’ve worked with us on several projects–do you have a favorite tile moment?
The blue hex tile from the original bathroom we did together will always have a special place in my heart. It was my first time renovating a space and the blue felt like such a risk. It paid off in the final project, though!
Our current primary bathroom now, though, is probably my favorite space in our home still to this day. I love the way we decided to transition the colors in a different way and the way the linear stacked tiles look in that space. I’ve never regretted making big statements with tile. The more tile in a space the better!
Which of our tiles would you love to use in future projects?
I am so obsessed with the Columbia Plateau brick! It’s so beautiful.
I also think the hand painted Dot Dash feels fresh and elegant. We talk about putting in a pool someday and Dot Dash would look so cool poolside!
Feeling inspired to make your own statement with tile? We’re happy to help! Reach out to our Design Consultants for free one-on-one assistance, including design help, sample selection, and ordering.