It’s a typical Sunday afternoon, which means Jana Bek’s Ann Arbor home is brimming with teenagers. Jana is nowhere in sight. “My bedroom is often my favorite place when we have 10 boys over at once,” she laughs.
The founder of an eponymous line of home decor and lighting, Jana is taking refuge in her master suite. Her fingerprints—in the form of painterly pastel designs on fabric, lamps and wallpaper—are literally all over the house, with one color caveat. “At one point, there were pink brushstroke curtains in the living room, and the guys asked, ‘Can we not do pink curtains in here?’” Jana says. “I happily obliged.” She kept the pink to the bedroom.
Six years ago, when Jana moved in with husband Kurt and his sons, Zeb and Orion, things looked a lot different. “It was pretty heavy,” Jana says diplomatically. All of the furniture, carpet, built-ins and walls were dark brown or maroon. The home needed a fresh look, but Jana wanted to proceed sensitively. So she drew inspiration from the family’s California vacations for her color palette and reupholstered or repurposed a lot of the furniture.
Today, the home feels casual and airy, yet classic. Soft tropical hues splash each room. Furniture spans traditional and modern. And coastal accents like beach photos, bamboo chairs and a mounted surfboard reflect the family’s personality and travel passions.
To keep costs in check, Jana gave herself the same guidelines she would a client: Know where to spend; save everywhere else. And think practically, not purely decoratively. High-traffic rooms require well-constructed furniture that can survive life with pets or kids. (The white living room sofa is upholstered in washable, high-performance fabric, Jana notes.) Don’t give up on finding lighting that illuminates tasks and looks stylish. Furniture should be multiuse; for instance, choosing a side table for a nightstand gives you a piece to someday move somewhere else.
And, of course, rolling up your sleeves helps costs, too. Jana loves DIY projects that mimic high-end decor, and she and Kurt tackled the kitchen’s tile, grout and paintwork themselves. That room—the last and largest they renovated—is the family’s main hangout. “One of our favorite things to do as a family is cook,” she says. “As we moved through our renovations, cooking fish tacos or fresh pasta always kept us upbeat.”
The Beks removed the brown upper cabinets that covered most of the sink wall, immediately creating the illusion of letting in more light. The lower cabinets wear a fresh coat of Farrow and Ball’s James White, a creamy shade Jana likes because it warms up next to the new minty green tile. Instead of replacing the shiny but dated granite, Jana had it sanded to a matte finish. “It’s kind of a dying art, but I found an awesome local craftsman who honed them on site,” she says. “What an amazing way to give your counters a new lease on life.”
What do the guys think of the new look? “They care more about what we’re having for dinner!” Jana says. Or what’s playing downstairs in the basement, where Zeb and Orion got the color they really wanted—a blank white wall for the TV projector.
Jana and Kurt (center, above) wanted a bright kitchen—but not an all-white one. So they covered one wall in green tile from Fireclay, a brand Jana loves for its range of hues.
Jana papered a slim entry wall adjacent to the living room in graphic Schumacher wallpaper. “What was a forgotten space is now a special moment,” Jana says.
Throughout the home, dark accents (like the living room’s painted armchairs) ground the airy pastel palette.
Photograph: Marta X Perez
Make it! For a custom look, Jana refinished an Ikea cabinet in the living room: “I took each piece of the cabinet and wrapped it like a little present using grass cloth and 3M double-sided sticky tape.” Find directions here.
Make it! “I love oversized art, but the frame can often be more expensive than the art,” Jana says. So for large pieces like this photo (above) in the master bedroom, she makes modern floating frames using two pieces of plexiglass and hardware kits. Find detailed directions here.
Jana embraces repetition for a cohesive look throughout the house. Her blush-swirled wallpaper and fabric show up in both the master bath (above) and a bolster pillow on the bed (below).
The headboard is covered in the same aqua shagreen fabric as the kitchen’s bamboo chairs.
Make it! Jana made a tropical headboard for Orion using a discounted Diane von Furstenberg leaf-pattern duvet. Find instructions at midwestliving.com/headboard.
When Orion turned 12, Jana remade his room to reflect his love of surfing and trips to visit his uncle at Venice Beach.
Inspired by boutique hotels, Jana removed the bifold closet doors and hired a woodworker to bring a storage-meets-entertainment center concept to life: A TV hides in the cabinet.
Working from home
Jana converted a bedroom into a studio (above). A bar cart (below) holds some supplies, and Jana fitted two small closets with shelves to store her inventory. (She removed the doors for easy access and to create the illusion of built-ins.) Her collection has grown to include pillows, textiles and wallpaper, but, she says, “I still hand-paint custom colors on my lamps and ginger jars.” Shop or get DIY inspiration on Jana’s blog at janabek.com.