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How California Designer Jenni Kayne Learned to Embrace Slowing Down

How California Designer Jenni Kayne Learned to Embrace Slowing Down

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.
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.

I also keep bowls of smudge bundles and sage around my house—I find that sage cleans the air and moves energy, adding 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 by horseback 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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