In the Wild

California Dream Design with the Founder of Create & Cultivate

Solving the design dilemmas of open floor plans and open shelving—all online.

When Create & Cultivate founder Jaclyn Johnson and her husband purchased their new home at the beginning of 2020, to say they had no idea what was coming might be the understatement of the year.

“Super weird timing all around,” Johnson says. “We had to do some work on the house, so we didn’t move in until May, but we started the design process early on and it was really challenging.” Add to that the rapidly changing nature of Johnson’s work, and it was a lot to consider.

Create & Cultivate, an online platform and community for career-focused women and entrepreneurs, started as a series of conferences—and until recently, in-person events were a huge portion of the business. “We went from hosting events all over the country, sometimes five a month, to working from home and transitioning to digital in the span of a few weeks,” Johnson explains.

So, in the midst of transitioning to working from home, Johnson was busy designing and moving to a new home from which to work. “It was tough at first,” she admits. “No one could come to the house, so my husband and I were measuring, taking pictures, FaceTiming—basically designing the space all virtually.” Johnson enlisted British-born and Los Angeles-based interior designer Ginny Macdonald to help bring her vision to life, and they both immediately turned to CB2 for furniture and accessories that evoked Johnson’s California modern style.

“I like to pretend I am a minimalist but I am definitely not,” says Johnson. “I would describe my style as lived-in modern meets California cool. Some parts of the house skew Palm Springs while others feel more Napa.”

Macdonald and Johnson had previously worked together, which helped smooth the process of transforming the open-plan kitchen and dining area into the cohesive, casual-cool design Johnson wanted to achieve, even as they dealt with the delays and challenges brought on by a global pandemic. “We weren’t allowed to physically go see any samples, so we really had to go by what we saw online,” Johnson says. “There were a few snafus along the way, but overall I feel like we were really lucky and we’re so happy with the results.”

A small living area is perfect for enjoying a pre- or post-dinner drink, or simply hanging out somewhere with excellent proximity to wine and snacks. Big design moments like the Dorset Linen Credenza and Gwyneth Boucle Chair are coupled with chic art and accessories to add that lived-in, collected vibe. “My favorite accessories are the Waves Brass Candle Holders, plus all the pottery. And the faux plants are best in class—the eucalyptus one is perfection,” Johnson gushes.

I would describe my style as lived-in modern meets California cool. Some parts of the house skew Palm Springs while others feel more Napa.

The kitchen, meanwhile, features the oh-so-popular open shelving that looks endlessly Instagrammable—when styled well, that is. “I knew we had to style them out and I had to explain to my husband so many times that we do not use these bowls,” Johnson laughs. “We knew we were getting this gorgeous pink-beige Fireclay tile, so we wanted the shelves to really pop.” Vases, bowls and decorative objects mingle with functional mugs and wine glasses. Another trick that gives the space major personality? Don’t shy away from art in the kitchen, like this vintage photograph of Yves St. Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld at Paloma Picasso’s 1978 Paris wedding.

Johnson admits the open shelving under the island was trickier to style. “I think we cracked the code by keeping it minimal and only using white, gold and black tones,” she says. “Plus the boucle counter stools made it feel really seamless.”

My husband and I were measuring, taking pictures, FaceTiming—basically designing the space all virtually [with Ginny Macdonald].

While the entire house is gorgeous, Johnson concedes that the kitchen might be her favorite part. “Typically, I would have been on the road two to three weeks each month. At home, my husband and I have been gardening and cooking more than ever. The space is so open and inviting, it’s perfect for entertaining and relaxing,” she says. “The house has been such a nice distraction from all the craziness and we’re just enjoying the space, whether it’s cooking meals in the kitchen, lounging in the dining area or vegging on our couch and watching bad TV. Self care comes in all forms!”

This interview has been edited and condensed. Photos by Jessica Bordner.

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