best of: Studio Tour: Painter Jess Brooks.
by Lily Glass comment


painting and vintage chair in painter jess brooks DTLA art studio. / sfgirlbybay

jess brooks is living the quintessential artist life. her light-filled DTLA loft sits just above skid row and really is a photographer’s dream. she found the spot seven years ago when she moved to los angeles from the midwest and the space has served as the perfect area for the evolution of her artistry – dance, music, and most recently painting. I was greeted by her two adorable pups and some wonderful jazz spinning on her record player. she is a kind and genuine soul, laid back and exploring new mediums with confidence and humility — I think all of these traits are clear in her interview below. enjoy the studio tour and be to sure follow jess on Instagram for some lovely behind the scenes of the artist at work.

painter Jess Brooks in her dtla studio. / sfgirlbybay

still life photography inside painter Jess Brooks' studio. / sfgirlbybay

were you working elsewhere before leaving to start your business?
Before I started painting full-time, i had a pop-up vintage store and sang jazz gigs to get by. Before THAT, I had so many weird and funny jobs, I could write a book. I originally moved to LA as a dancer in this pretty epic cabaret show on the west side called The Toledo Show. During the days, I was a state caregiver to a shaman who had recently been in an accident — I was his hands and feet for a few months. He had a 7-ft boa constrictor named Diabolito that went with us everywhere in a pillowcase. That snake lived freely in the house and one day “disappeared” until years later, a friend of mine sent me a photo of a massive boa constrictor crawling into a Silverlake sewer grate. I mean, I’m not kidding, I could write a book. But I’ll stop there.

Studio Tour with Painter Jess Brooks. / sfgirlbybay artwork inside painter Jess Brooks' dtla studio. / sfgirlbybay sketches inside painter Jess Brooks' dtla studio. / sfgirlbybay art sketches inside artist Jess Brooks' dtla studio. / sfgirlbybay

was your new path motivated by a particular creative need or personal goal?
I didn’t mean for any of this to happen! I hadn’t touched a brush in like, 12 years. One day I just started doodling again. I didn’t really kick it up until my dog passed away last year. I was a wreck. The only thing I could do was work manically to keep myself sane. I couldn’t sleep, so I stayed up all night and woke up at sunrise, all the while painting. It turned into something. I guess it’s my legacy to her. I miss her so much. She was my soul mate.

sketch tapped up inside painter Jess Brooks dtla studio. / sfgirlbybay artist Jess Brooks inside her dtla studio. / sfgirlbybay Studio Tour: Painter Jess Brooks. / sfgirlbybay musical instrument hung up in painter Jess Brooks' studio. / sfgirlbybay Studio Tour: Painter Jess Brooks. / sfgirlbybay

did you receive any particular advice that stood out when starting your own business?
I never received any advice, none that I can remember. Sometimes I still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. But I’ve always been an intuitive learner. I’m good at finding things in the dark.

painter Jess Brooks inside her studio in dtla. / sfgirlbybay paintings inside Jess Brooks' studio dtla. / sfgirlbybay drawings inside Jess Brooks dtla art studio. / sfgirlbybay Painter Jess Brooks. / sfgirlbybay Studio Tour: Painter Jess Brooks. / sfgirlbybay

where do you gain fuel that inspires your creative endeavors?
Coconut oil bulletproof coffee! Ha. I have no idea where the energy comes from. My need to MAKE things appear. I’m obsessed with working. It’s hard for me to stop. If the idea is there, I won’t stop until I make it. Sometimes I fail and I get really down, but it doesn’t stop me from trying again. Perseverance. It’s the key to everything. top three things id say to someone starting their own businesses: 1. be generous. and spread that shit everywhere! 2. be your sincere and authentic self. 3. never ever, ever stop.

storage closet inside painter Jess Brooks' dtla studio. / sfgirlbybay Painter Jess Brooks inside her dtla studio. / sfgirlbybay

what kind of vibe did you have in mind while designing the new studio space?
Well, I’ve been living in my loft for the past 7 years. It was raw space when I moved In, so I built the walls, put in a bathroom, made a kitchen- all of that. It was a feat, let me tell you. I could write a book about that, too. I didn’t have hot water for 3 months, so I bathed at an SRO in skid row (that’s where my studio is). Ugh. Haha — I’m laughing about it as I’m typing this. As far as the vibe goes, I am drawn to mid-century treasures, Victorian treasures and anything I can find that inspires me and tells a story, really. I don’t have a drain in my kitchen, so my dirty dishwater ends up in a bucket under the sink, which ends up watering the dozens of houseplants I have growing around here. I guess the vibe is “resourceful storytelling.”

what are some of your work tools that you can’t live without?
I cannot live without sunlight. I’m lucky because I have windows facing east and west so I have SO much light. I also love my Prang charcoals. They’re the pencils that you peel instead of sharpen. I don’t know what it is about them that I love so much but I can’t start my day without them.

plant shadows inside Jess Brooks' studio. / sfgirlbybay rolled paper inside Painter Jess Brooks' studio. / sfgirlbybay

what do you currently have spinning on the studio’s turntable?
My beloved turntable. Right now, I’m listening to Ahmad Jamal, this week has been a lot of Ravel, though. Love Ravel.

• photography by lily glass for sfgirlbybay.

shop small: tono co.
by victoria comment


hand-dyed ribbons from tono co. in ombre shades of pink. / sfgirlbybay

via pinterest i stumbled on the prettiest small business, which gave me the idea that a shop small series might be timely right now, so we can collectively help some of these small, independent shops stay afloat during this really challenging time. this online shop is just as stunning as their products are — as you’re soon about to see. meet Tono Co — with a collection gorgeous ribbons, wearables like scarves and hankies, styling kits (genuis!), and textiles (and even scraps) are carefully hand-made by a small team of artisans in the tono studio in Santa Ana, California. it’s like a dream resource come true for designers, seamstresses, brides to be, florists, stylists, photographers or anyone just aching to create beautiful things right now.

tono co artisanal hand-dyed ribbon and scarves. / sfgirlbybay

Tono Co is the passion project of Janelle Nicole Wylie, owner of the floral company Lavenders Flowers. Working closely with brides for almost a decade, color became the natural center of Janelle’s work leading her to the tradition of hand-dyeing fabrics. Tono Co finds its inspiration in the first-hand knowledge Janelle gained while studying painting & color theory in Florence, Italy. In Italian, Tono refers to the gradual increase in color tone, creating a fluid color spectrum. Through the learning process of mixing oil paint, Janelle developed a sensitivity to color tone. Her passions for combining color and texture have evolved into the art of hand-dyed textiles. her presentation of these stunning textiles is so soothing to the eyes and she writes a beautiful blog, too — so if your eyes are in need of something sublime, let’s visit Tono Co.

hand-dyed colorful ribbons from tono co. / sfgirlbybay

sheer pastel hand-dyed textiles from tono co. / sfgirlbybay

inspiring imagery featuring hand-dyed tono co. textiles. / sfgirlbybay

paint swatches and hand-dyed ribbon samples in ombre shades of pink. / sfgirlbybay

lavender silk button down blouse and ombre purple ribbons. / sfgirlbybay

pastel hand-dyed tono co. ribbons and matching paint swatches. / sfgirlbybay

hand-dyed ribbon and scarves from tono co. / sfgirlbybay

hand-dyed artisan ribbon from tono co. / sfgirlbybay

hand-dyed textiles from tono co. / sfgirlbybay

hand-dyed raw ribbon made by tono co. / sfgirlbybay

• photography courtesy of Tono Co.

instagram worthy: @timlabenda.
by victoria comment


photograph of Interior and fashion Consultant, Designer & Decorator @timlabenda's berlin home via instagram. / sfgirlbybay

i first landed on this very inspiring and instagram worthy account when i spied @timlabenda’s beautiful bedroom. it’s hard to miss a headboard-like wall of white birds on a lovely green background and it turns out it’s Gucci’s Heron Print wallpaper which makes perfect sense because it’s boldly fabulous. @timlabenda is an Interior and fashion Consultant, Designer & Decorator and also a sometime personal fashion blogger with a keen, clever sense of style over at @hnns.vncnt. he shares quite a bit of his incredible berlin home on his account and i’m sharing just a small sampling of how stunning it is — it was hard to narrow down from all the gorgeous shots, so please forgive the photo overload, sit back and enjoy.

unique hanging lighting fixture in berlin home of designer @timlabenda via instagram. / sfgirlbybay

modern living room in berlin home of designer @timlabenda via instagram. / sfgirlbybay

modern living room in berlin home of designer @timlabenda via instagram. / sfgirlbybay

bohemain modern bedroom in berlin home designer and blogger @timlabenda via instagram. / sfgirlbybay

chrome clothing racks in bedroom of designer and blogger @timlabenda via instagram. / sfgirlbybay

chrome clothing rack and gucci wallpaper in bedroom of designer and blogger @timlabenda via instagram. / sfgirlbybay

gucci bird wallpaper on green wall in bedroom of designer and blogger @timlabenda via instagram. / sfgirlbybay

inspiring home decor and photography by designer and blogger @timlabenda via instagram. / sfgirlbybay

inspiring bold bohemian modern bedroom in berlin home of designer and blogger @timlabenda via instagram. / sfgirlbybay

moody corner with low dresser and paper floorlamp in berlin home of blogger @timlabenda via instagram. / sfgirlbybay

gucci wallpaper and modern pendant lighting with cane bed frame in berlin of of blogger @timlabenda via instagram. / sfgirlbybay

modern brass and black floor lamp on herringbone wood floors in designer and blogger @timlabenda's berlin home. / sfgirlbybay

inspiring home decor inside designer and blogger @timlabenda's berlin home. / sfgirlbybay

ceramic dishes on open shelving above coffee and espresso machine. / sfgirlbybay

rustic modern kitchen with black wall lighting and wood ornaments as wall decor. / sfgirlbybay

minimalist modern rustic kitchen with wood cabinetry and open wall shelving. / sfgirlbybay

dining nook in berlin apartment of blogger and designer @timlabenda via instagram. / sfgirlbybay

sunny dining area with round marble table and cane bentwood dining chairs. / sfgirlbybay

inspiring bohemian modern interior of blogger and designer @timlabenda's berlin home via instagram. / sfgirlbybay

• photography by @timlabenda.

reading up!
by victoria comment


storefront window display filled with books stacked with their pages facing out. / sfgirlbybay

since these are unchartered times for us, i may from time to time veer off on a different track from simply posting interior inspiration. not that i don’t love doing that, but i’d like to try and provide other distractions for us as well, while we’re quarantined. one does not live by interior design alone, although, hmmm, maybe i could — but i digress. reading is probably my number one form of entertainment, and escape. i haven’t had a television set since 2006, but of course, i watch my favorite on from netflix, hulu, appletv and amazon prime on my laptop because sometimes i just can’t give my focus 100% to a book — especially when the world is as weird and worrisome as it is now. but when i can give a book my full attention, and i do an awful lot (i’ve read 11 books thus far this year!) it’s just such a helpful distractor and one i cherish. i thought i’d share some of my very favorite books with you — some fiction, some non and all of them wonderful reads.

woman reading a book and books stacked next to a pile of knit blankets. / sfgirlbybay

I so wish we could all head to our local bookstores right now, but while we can’t we can order books online, use the public libraries’ online resources and wonderful apps like libby to download and read if you have a library card. try overdrive to find your local library and i think you can sign up at some libraries for an online library card. they’ve also just created the national emergency library with over a million titles available for free and with no wait list — to everyone in the world!  i’ve also just bought a gift certificate for my local bookstore in order to try and help keep them afloat until they can reopen. mcsweeney’s has a great list of how to help support small indie bookshops, too. i’m going to pass along a dozen books — from some obscure, long time favorites to some i’ve just recently read and loved. i hope this is of some help to you and if you have further suggestions, please do pass them along!

vintage black and white photo of a woman reading. / sfgirlbybay

good reads book covers. / sfgirlbybay

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje is the wonderful story of fourteen-year-old Nathaniel, and his older sister, Rachel who just after World War II stay behind in London when their parents move to Singapore, leaving them in the care of a mysterious figure named The Moth and his eccentric crew of friends: men and women joined by a shared history of unspecified secret service during the war, all of whom seem, in some way, determined now to protect, and educate in rather unusual ways Rachel and Nathaniel.

My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki is an all-time favorite of mine. an unusual and hard to describe but wonderful story about documentarian Jane Takagi-Little who finally lands a job producing a Japanese television show that just happens to be sponsored by an American meat-exporting business, and in doing so uncovers some unsavory truths about love, fertility, and a dangerous hormone called DES. Soon she will also cross paths with Akiko Ueno, a beleaguered Japanese housewife struggling to escape her overbearing husband.

tangerine by christine mangan — the last person alice shipley expects to see since arriving in tangier with her new husband is lucy mason. after a tragic accident at college, the two best friends once inseparable roommates haven’t spoken in over a year and the mysterious story ensues from there. it’s kind of a talented mister ripley mystery i just loved.

House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III is about the crossover of three lives: a recent immigrant from the Middle East who yearns to restore his family’s dignity in California; A recovering alcoholic and addict down on her luck struggles to hold onto the one thing she has left — her home and her lover, a married cop, who is driven to extremes to win her love. the combustion of their lives makes for a very intriguing read.

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is a funny, often poignant book about the very passionately in love Clare and Henry — and how the pair vow to hold onto each other and their marriage as they struggle with the effects of Chrono-Displacement Disorder, a condition that casts Henry to involuntarily disappear and enter into the world of time travel.

The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession by Susan Orlean is a witty story of an amazing obsession of an endangered flower —- the rare ghost orchid and a deeply eccentric man named who leads author susan Orlean on an unforgettable tour of America’s strange flower-selling subculture, through Florida’s swamps and beyond. another of my all-time favorite reads.

stacked books with colorful pages. / sfgirlbybay

colorful bold book covers. / sfgirlbybay

hotel du lac by anita brookner tells the story of Edith Hope, who writes romance novels under a pseudonym. When her life begins to resemble the plots of her own novels, however, Edith flees to Switzerland, where the quiet luxury of the Hotel du Lac promises to restore her to her senses. But instead of peace and rest, Edith finds herself sequestered at the hotel with an assortment of love’s casualties and exiles. She also attracts the attention of a worldly man determined to release her unused capacity for mischief and pleasure.

A Gentleman in Moscow by amor towles is an amazing (and very timely) novel that takes place in 1922. the very witty Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest and is ordered to spend the rest of his life living in an attic inside a luxury hotel, the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin with an amazing cast of unusual characters.

the dutch house by ann patchett was one of the best books i’ve read this year. it’s a dark fairy tale about a brother and sister who cannot overcome their troubled past and despite every outward sign of success, Danny and Maeve are only truly comfortable when they’re together. Throughout their lives, they return to the well-worn story of what they’ve lost with humor and rage. But when at last they’re forced to confront the people who left them behind, the relationship between an indulged brother and his ever-protective sister is finally tested.

the heart’s invisible furies by john boyne is a book to make you laugh and cry while reminding us all of the redemptive power of the human spirit. Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do and very eccentric Dublin couple, Cyril Avery is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his friendship with the infinitely more glamourous and dangerous Julian Woodbead. At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from — and over his many years, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country, and much more.

Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt is a really moving story of a young niece and her artist uncle, their love, grief, and renewal as these two lonely people become the unlikeliest of friends and adventurers. as the story unwinds they find that sometimes you don’t know you’ve lost someone until you’ve found them. it’s a truly tender story of love lost and found, an unforgettable portrait of the way compassion can make us whole again.

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson is another very timely read if you’re looking for a bit of hope. On Winston Churchill’s first day as prime minister, Hitler invaded Holland and Belgium, and Poland and Czechoslovakia had already fallen, and the Dunkirk evacuation was just two weeks away. For the next twelve months, Hitler wages a relentless bombing campaign, killing 45,000 Britons. It was up to Churchill to hold his country together and persuade President Roosevelt that Britain was a worthy ally—and willing to fight to the end. with lighthearted gossipy backstories, mister larson weaves an extraordinary and uplifting story of courage in the face of evil.

vintage books. / sfgirlbybay

neutral colored books stacked bedside. / sfgirlbybay

whitewashed loft with books stacked under tall windows. / sfgirlbybay

• photography credits in order of appearance: lusting upon; reverie parisienne; @michellereadsbooks; @historycoolkids; @_____m_d_m_____; AMBRIEHL KHALIL; @lisadengler; in bed store; @theslowtraveler

best of: living with texture.
by victoria comment


modern loft living room with large vintage area rug and oversized mirror. / sfgirlbybay

adding texture is one of the easiest ways to give a room a warmer, more relaxed vibe, and step up the sophistication, too. and doing so through layered textiles is easy, and usually quite affordable, too. there are so many wonderful online and vintage resources for rugs, pillows, throws and bedspreads (see below!), as well as wall tapestries and adding these decorative elements to your home is so, so simple. if your living room, say feels a little cold, lay down a rug (or two!) and you’ve instantly added comfort, color, and warmth to the room. you’ve seen the trend of laying down an unexpected vintage rug in an ordinary kitchen and how it can really transform it, and the same goes for warming up bathroom tile and giving bedrooms a cozy, bohemian vibe.

beachy outdoor patio with pink walls and mismatched striped pillows and cushions. / sfgirlbybay

and for me, the more mismatched the look the better! i love the look of unique prints over patterned tile, a mix of a few layered rugs, or even hanging a rug on a wall, and the idea of it really makes for an instant game changer. sources for textiles are endless, but a few favorites are block shop,  armadillo & co., pampa, the citizenry, the gardener’s house, etsy, anthropologie, lulu & georgia and if you really want to invest in some rare, vintage rugs abc carpet & home and chairish have some beauties. we get them in from time to time at super marché, too, so stay on the lookout (or join our newsletter). happy layering!

bohemian wall tapestry. / sfgirlbybay

minimalist modern decor with patterned rug. / sfgirlbybay

sunroom with natural wood floors and mismatched textiles on sofa. / sfgirlbybay

inspiring textural decor ideas. / sfgirlbybay

textural decor layers in bohemian modern living room. / sfgirlbybay

simple modern bedroom with textural decor elements. / sfgirlbybay

textural decor inspiration. / sfgirlbybay

minimalist built-in seating area with mixed fabric cushions and pillows. / sfgirlbybay

textural layered bohemian modern home decor. / sfgirlbybay

unique red and white floor tiles with mint green cabinets in modern kitchen. / sfgirlbybay

textural layered hotel room. / sfgirlbybay

living room with moroccan rugs on the floor and walls. / sfgirlbybay

simple layered bedroom decor. / sfgirlbybay

rustic hexagon floor tiles. / sfgirlbybay

bamboo and cane chair with faux fur cushion and moroccan pillow. / sfgirlbybay

chic living room ornate moldings and mixed textures and textiles. / sfgirlbybay

• photography credits in order of appearance: @herz.und.blut; @carlaypage; WALL TAPESTRY; the socialite family; planet deco; @monicawangphoto; milk decoration; the style files; jeroen van der spek; bon boutique; milk decoration;; boutique homes; @theworldofinteriors; kim verbist interiors; fancy decors; aestate@ateliervime; refinery29; riad jardin secret; loom & kiln; vintage wallpaper patterns; french by design; las cositas de beach & eau; planete deco; @sugarshack_styling_co; @hmerrick; italian ways; @saasha_burns; @lanemarinho; anthony hanson photography; rose and ivy journal; honestly wtf; planet deco; libertyn interiors; @nataliemyers; matt pecson art.