“As much as I loved the ‘cabin in the woods’ vibe, it just wasn’t working as a studio,” designer Jenika Kurtz Cuadra laughs, referencing her West LA studio. “It was too dark and didn’t feel very inspiring. I knew I needed to lighten the space up.” The studio is on the same property of the home Jenika and her husband bought almost ten years ago. When they first saw it, the couple couldn’t even step inside because it was filled with junk. “For a while we were calling it the ‘Spider Shack’, you can imagine why,” she recalls. “For the first couple of years that we lived here it served as a guest room and sports watching den. Then when I started my own company, I realized it was the perfect place to set up shop.”
The transformation began by painting the wall paneling white, which wasn’t as easy as it sounds. “I had to paint these walls FOUR times to cover up the original lacquer that covered the wood,” Jenika says. “It had likely been there since this addition was built in 1954.” Once the walls were freshened up, Jenika noticed the ceiling needed some work as well. With the help of her dad (who happens to be a general contractor), she painted the ceiling and replaced the floor as well. The final detail to be transformed was the fireplace. “I love exposed brick,” Jenika tells us, but it just didn’t feel right so that also got a fresh coat of paint. Once the fireplace was pink, she felt the studio was ready to officially come to life. She rearranged the layout, added art, wallpapered the bathroom, updated the light fixtures, installed woven blinds, and slowly added accessories.
Many of these pieces have special meaning. “The two framed quotes were a wedding gift from my cousin who married my husband and me, the set of 19070s design books belonged to my grandmother, the wooden desk chair was a junk shop find that’s been with me since college, one of the books on the shelf was the catalyst for me starting my own company (given to me by my best friend), the collage at my desk is my vision board and the framed photos are of my closest friends who always keep me motivated to do my best,” Jenika smiles. ” I’ve tried to surround myself with things that make me feel good in here.”
The designer admits creating a space for herself was a bit of a challenge. “I would walk in here everyday and move something around and would not be satisfied until I tried something 25 different ways.” But today, the studio feels like her own and is the perfect place for her burgeoning design business — J. Kurtz Design — to grow. Though she has no typical day, each morning almost always starts here, answering emails and creating a list of the most pressing items to tackle. And if she ever feels uninspired or stuck on a challenge, she can fondly remember the ‘spider shack’ and be proud of how far she’s come.