If you’re a fan of HGTV’s Design on a Dime, you surely recognize Kristan Cunningham– the adorable host who kicked off the first 10 seasons of the show. Of course, her impeccable taste & DIY skills also came in handy during her reign as The Rachael Ray Show’s resident designer. These days, she’s a shop owner… and a pretty magnificent one at that. She and her husband, Scott Jarrell, opened their interior design firm and retail shop Hammer and Spear in downtown LA’s growing arts district. They were welcomed with raving reviews- in fact, Hammer and Spear was named “best Downtown emporium” by LA Weekly, and many tout the shop for some of the best vintage finds in California. Of course, a gal like Kristan never slows down. It only makes sense that she recently formed Arts District Printing Co. with her husband and photographer Jonathan Ventura. With so many accomplishments under her belt, we had to find out just how she does it all:
MY LIGHTBULB MOMENT:
I woke up on a typical Wednesday morning, looked at Scott and said “why are we waiting until we retire to do the thing we actually love?” We started looking for a space that day and opened Hammer and Spear 6 months later.
I CAN’T START MY DAY UNTIL:
I play “hand” with Bean (my Bichoodle) in bed. This involves making claw gestures about 8″ from her face while she lays on her back, reaches for the claw and makes faces and noises so adorable that I think my heart will explode. Sometimes, I’m late for work because I play hand too long. Did I mention that I love my dog?
Going to bed at night excited about the projects you’re creating, not the money you’re making.
YOU’LL NEVER SEE ME WITHOUT:
A drafting scale. Even if I’m going out to dinner and carrying a clutch, some insane part of me worries that I might need it. You know, in case the person at the table next to me whips out their house plans and has questions… something logical like that. Plus, I have a vintage brass one that’s pretty dope, so…
MY DREAM COLLABORATION:
Prince. It could be a hotel, an airplane, or clothes for parakeets- I don’t care. And I’d let him use as much purple as he wants.
THE ONLY PLACE BETTER THAN LA:
Napa. We go as often as possible. I like wine a lot.
WHEN I FEEL UNINSPIRED:
I go to SciArc (conveniently located across the street from Hammer and Spear) or the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena to look at the student work in the hallways… It’s humbling, frustrating, infuriating and finally- when I get over being jelly of the young people who are churning out work that’s driven by raw talent and passion- inspiring. The competitive side of me wants to keep up with those whipper snappers.
ADVICE I WISH I HAD 5 YEARS AGO:
Professionally: To remind myself everyday that I’ve surrounded myself with people who are talented, capable, smart and lovely- I don’t need to have done every little thing myself to feel proud of the end result of our work. Trust them. Lean on them. Listen more.
Personally: Marry my husband. After 16 years together, I didn’t believe a piece of paper would make things feel different. It does, and it’s the cat’s PJs.
IN 5 YEARS FIND ME:
Running a couple more Hammer and Spear locations and working on design projects with clients who are as wonderful as my current roster.
ABOVE ALL ELSE:
Wake up and do something you love. Life’s too short and you only get one.