{Home Tour} FOF Design Expert Janell Beals Offers Tips and a Tour

FOF Janell Beals is a true jane of all trades. She’s a skilled painter with a BFA from The School of The Art Institute of Chicago, holds a degree in Fashion Design, and even launched her own highly acclaimed women’s clothing line, Janell Beals Clothing.  When she finally took a break to raise a family at 40, she found it impossible to keep her creativity at bay. Four years later, she began working with clients as an interior designer. In 2008, she and her husband bought a 3,100 square foot outside of Portland, Oregon, and started documenting her remodeling process on her blog, Isabella & Max rooms.  The blog became so popular (with 5,000 page views each day) that Janell launched House of Fifty, a full-service online magazine full of helpful tips for re-decorating, DIY projects, inspiring success stories, and more. “The name and concept for the magazine came about after being turned down for another opportunity based on my age,” says Janell.  “I wanted to create something that celebrated the fact that women can live inspired lives at any age.” Here she shares tips on easy ways to redecorate your space without breaking bank, and leads a “virtual” tour of her breathtaking home!


Can you offer some simple and inexpensive ways to redecorate?
Lighting fixtures and paint can go far when decorating a space. It doesn’t have to cost a lot.
You can [change light fixtures] easily with a conversion kit. Take a recessed light [with] a $10 kit from Home Depot. Once you install this, you can hang light fixtures from it. [It] helps to create that unique and interesting statement in the room. (See Janell’s step-by-step guide here: how to convert recessed light to hang a chandelier).

How can you keep your home decor up-to-date without overspending?
Accessories. If you’ve got the basic pieces, the simplest way to update things is with pillows, or by layering rugs over carpeting. Texture and pattern and color on pillows and drapes, even lampshades can transform a room.

What pieces should you splurge on?
[Splurge on] beds–it’s key to your well being that you get a good night sleep, and what could help that more than a great comfortable mattress? Sofas can [also] be so expensive, and it’s tempting [to save], but in two or three years you’ll have to replace it, whereas if you invest in a decent sofa that is well made you can have it for 10-15 years. When the material wears out you can get it upholstered.  Invest in a solid wood dining room table. I would often [try to get away] with veneer tops, but they just doesn’t stand up to the wear and tear of everyday life.  In the long run, investing in quality pieces that you can experiment with is the more affordable way to go.

What stores and websites do you shop at?
I like to shop at Ikea, HomeGoods, Ethan Allan occasionally, Restoration Hardware, and Mitchell Gold.

What blogs do you visit for inspiration?
Censational girl is amazing. It really focuses on affordable decor solutions and most of them are DIY. She really finds the best projects. Thrifty decor chick has great tips on decoration and great portfolios on her site.  [I also like] the nester.

How do you strike a balance between the pieces that you craft, and the pieces that you purchase?
It’s important that there be a mix. If everything in my home was DIY, it would look that way, even though I try to make them look as upscale as possible. Sometimes you do need to spend some money. [You need] that mix of high and low–a couple of quality or interesting standout pieces, whether it’s an antique light fixture or blinds or a nice table, sofa or chair, elevates the whole look. If your DIY projects are done well, the mix is going to be interesting.


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  • Lakeitha Duncan

    Love Janell and her work!

    Great tips too!

  • Courtney {a thoughtful place}

    Janell is fantastic and has such a wonderful eye. Great feature.

  • Cheryl @ OldChicBoutique

    Hi. I came by from Janelles blog to check out your site. Loved this interview and I’m really looking forward to reading more of your blog!

  • barbara@hodge:podge

    I have adored Janell and her blog for quite some time! It was her blog that was one of the first that I started to read and she inspired me to start my own on 2009!

  • Bethany {at} Powell Brower Home

    I just love Janell’s sense of style and spirit. thank you for featuring her. she never seems plastic and always really ‘real’

  • Deidre

    What a gorgeous home! I too am still rocking in this fifties club! Great interview,Wonderful blog thank you!

  • carol@houseandhomedefined

    I just discovered you through Janell’s blog, and I’m so glad I did. Celebrating the best years (I’m in the club in two) always catches my attention, and I continue to be inspired by Janell. Now, off to read more of this fab blog!!

  • Janell Beals

    Thank you for having me at FOF, you know I think the fifties are pretty fab and it was a pleasure working with you!

  • Lauren@SimplyLKJ

    Fantasitc interview. Such a lovely home!

  • Kim @ Plumberry Pie

    Hi! Stopping by from House of Fifty to check out this fantastic interview;)! Great site!