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Color Schemes and DIY Dreams


Avid DIYer Mila Moraga-Holz had design sense instilled in her from a young age. Despite growing up in a remote part of South America, she learned the importance of creating beautiful spaces with the tools you are given—a talent and passion she documents through her design-and-lifestyle blog, Jest Café, and in the intricate renovation projects she takes on with her Los Angeles home.

Where did you grow up, and what was your childhood like? I grew up in the south of Chile, far away from the rest of the world, but I still felt connected to it by my parents. I was surrounded by nature and love. Growing up, my mother and father filled our home with beautiful things. They designed our house from the ground up, and they decorated it with art, plants, and fun furniture—specifically rustic and vintage items. Our home was carefully curated, which is not an easy thing to do when you live so remotely.

Have you always had a passion for expressing yourself creatively through design? Was this something you discovered at an early age? My mom always asked my opinion when decorating my bedroom, and she supported my crazy ideas, like painting all the walls different colors. I was also very interested in DIY projects and loved doing needlework, but I didn’t know of anybody who did these things for a living, so I didn’t pursue them as a career. My parents were design aficionados, but in their daily lives my mom owned a very successful cordonería, or sewing goods store, and my dad was a lawyer; my world was very, very small.

When did you first start doing your own interior design work? I have tried to bring something special to every room and home I’ve ever lived in, but I started to actively pursue my passion for design in 2015 when I started my blog, where I was inspired by other bloggers to do what I love.

How did you choose a name for your blog? Is there any significance behind it? I wanted a name that wasn’t too serious but that embodied a place where people could gather, be entertained, talk, and have fun. I want my readers to laugh and feel connected to a community.

I took the word “jest” from the book Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, which talks about the importance of entertainment in our lives and how the pleasures we choose define who we are. In the end, though, I just liked how the words looked together.

Where or what do you turn to for inspiration for your projects? I subscribe to a lot of design magazines. Architectural Digest Spain is my favorite, but Instagram is another important resource. I have saved many images from these sources that help me come up with new ideas.

What is the first step you take when embarking on a new project for your home? Do you look at each room as a separate element or try to renovate the space more holistically? I start with an object or an image that inspires me, and I move on from there. I definitely keep all the rooms in mind when decorating a space, especially in my home because it is very small—nine hundred square feet—so the flow between rooms is particularly important. I like the door frames to act as windows to the next space, which means that the color palettes have to work together.

It’s easy to see your appreciation of color in your spaces. How do you go about selecting a color scheme? I get inspiration from nature, among other places. Any colors that work well together in nature will work well together in your home. I also pay attention to the shade of colors that I see throughout the day, and I try to use the ones that inspire me in my house. To narrow them down, I take a photo of a palette I like (a flower, for example) and I find matches in Photoshop or the Pantone app to come up with a final color scheme. As much as I like color, I like to keep a room within a palette and I try not to go too crazy with it.

How do you balance the color transition from one room to another? I think the best decision is an informed one. I take my time when choosing a color. First, I look at the possibilities in Photoshop, and then I go to the paint store to get a lot of sample patches that I stick to the wall. I live with them on the wall for days until I can narrow down the choices to three. I buy paint samples of those choices to paint large patches on the wall, and, again, I live with them for a few days. I pay attention to how the colors change throughout the day until I am sure which one is the right one.

How do you decide what furniture to incorporate into each room? My first thought when looking for furniture is the price. I have a budget, and the furniture I choose has to be within that budget. My next considerations are color and shape. I like statement furniture that is different, but my husband cares more about comfort, so I need to keep that in mind, too.

Tell us a bit about your most recent home project and your thought processes behind it: My most recent renovation was my kitchen, which I did when I was eight months pregnant. That room started with a color: berry. I knew I wanted the kitchen cabinets to be painted in a fun hue, and I ended up using a color inspired by Farrow & Ball’s Radicchio. After that, everything else followed. Creating a room—deciding on shapes, textures, colors, lighting, and tiles—is a wonderful process that I love. Seeing it all come together is so exciting! It gives me life. I know it sounds corny, but it’s true.

What is most challenging about embarking on a new DIY or renovation project? The most challenging aspect is envisioning the end product. I am good at seeing the big picture, but mistakes happen, and sometimes I need to take detours. A good quality I have is that I make fast decisions and don’t dwell in self-doubt too much. Plus, when you have a small budget, there is not much room for different options or for making mistakes.

Why are plants and flowers important to you, and how do you feel they contribute to the look of a space? Plants were a major decoration item in my home when I was growing up, so I naturally incorporate them into my home as an adult. They warm up a room and make it come alive.

Did you conceptualize and paint the murals, like the ones in your kitchen and living room, yourself? How did you create them? The mural in my living room was inspired by a textile by Roberto Burle Marx, and I created the mural in the kitchen with Adobe Sketch.

Do you have any exciting projects coming up? I am working on an affordable and colorful home goods line. It’s taking a while to get it off the ground because I have three boys and designing is not my full-time job, but it will happen soon.

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Spooky and Sustainable Halloween Decorations

Halloween is one of the most festive holidays of the year, but there are plenty of reasons to rethink traditional decorations. Making your own decorations cuts back on plastic and other materials that can harm the earth. Get your home Halloween ready with these eco-friendly crafts and accents!

A few tips on sourcing your supplies 

Forgo expensive Halloween pop-ups this season and shop local. Farmers markets usually sell gourds, mums, and pumpkins for cheap. Thrifting is a fun way to find unique accents and fabrics. Antique shops are another resource for old picture frames, bottles, candle holders, and lamps to recycle into eerie Halloween decor.

10 craft and accent ideas for a green Halloween 

1. Before you recycle your old black trash bags, check out this adorable spider web craft. Unlike fake spider webs, trash bag webs don’t pose a threat to owls, bees, and other wildlife. Love to knit? Repurpose extra thread into webs on bushes and trees.

2. If you’re hosting a Halloween party, give your guests a cute and creepy pour with jack-‘o-lantern wine bottles. Make the table even more festive by repurposing small pumpkins into sparkly place cards. For an understated look, find supplies to make this eerie centerpiece at the Dollar Store.

3. Evoke the chilling atmosphere of haunted hayrides by decorating stacked hay bales with gourds, mini-pumpkins, and corn stalks. Cut up old autumn-colored flannels and drape them over single hay bales. After the season ends, you can recycle your hay into compost.

4. Bright orange, green, and purple might not mesh with your home. Hang up a black twig wreath to keep it chic and make it spooky. Collect branches in your neighborhood to make this no-fuss craft, or buy this beautiful hand wrapped wreath by GNVDesigns.

5. Save your old sweaters from the donation pile – cable knit pumpkins are chic, eco-friendly accents for the patio and the dining room.

6. Transform old tin cans into spooky luminaries by following this easy DIY tutorial. This craft is a great alternative to paper bag luminaries, which are more likely to fly away and turn into litter.

7. Black cats are a Halloween staple. This black cat carved from recycled wood by SoAddictDecor will charm trick or treaters and guests alike.

8. Ring in the season of the witch by hanging witch hat luminaries around the front door. The tutorial recommends buying cheap hats, but making your own out of cardboard is even more Earth conscious.

9. Set out soybean skull candles by StoryofTheScent to create a chilling atmosphere. Halloween stores sell candles made from paraffin wax, which emit chemicals that pollute the air. (If you don’t like skulls, decorate your end tables with sweet pumpkin head candles by Hickoryhillcandle.)

10. Mason jars are so multifunctional — you can even use them to make a ghoulish apothecary in your kitchen. Simply fill your mason jars with a combination of moss, glycerin or vinegar mixed with food coloring, and throw in creepy items like doll parts and old toys. To go the extra mile, decorate your mason jars with authentic looking labels.

DIY Summer Time Capsule

Time capsules are used to store favorite memories, and freeze certain moments in time. With the summer rapidly coming to an end, this time capsule lets your kids pick their favorite moment, and capture it for the rest of their lifetime.


  • Scrapbook paper
  • Large plastic container of hand wipes, emptied out and washed
  • Scissors
  • Glue


  1. Cut the scrapbook paper to wrap around the body of the hand wipe container. Decorate and label the paper accordingly, and glue the paper around the container. Make sure to leave the lid uncovered.
  2. Have your kids fill it with their favorite memories.
  3. Store the time capsule in either a closet or drawer, and open in the beginning of next summer.

What to store inside:

  • Ticket stubs
  • Seashells
  • Pictures from places you visited
  • Souvenirs
  • Hand drawn artwork
  • Goals for upcoming school year

Serve up Coffee in Style

Offering your guest coffee is a fun, rewarding experience when you have a pleasing looking at home coffee bar. There are so many ways to go about this trendy interior design, so read these tips to make the most practical, impressive coffee bar. 

Invest in a single serve coffee maker  

Having to brew an entire pot of coffee whenever you offer a cup to someone is not only time consuming, but it’s wasteful. Invest in an inexpensive single serve coffee maker. Brands such as Keurig have changed the coffee game by introducing a quick, efficient way to give people endless options to brew a cup in a minute. With a single brew system, you can have a variety of roasts and flavors available for people at the touch of a button.  

Have a variety of roasts 

Don’t forget the tea and decaf. Having a coffee bar shouldn’t just include the caffeinated treat, but it should also have some teas and decaf options too. It’s all about accommodating everyone who walks through the door, including yourself.  

Hang up mugs 

Consider displaying your mugs with hooks on the wall or on a rotating mug tree. For a more polished look use solid color mugs and stray away from mugs with logos and words.  

Store cream, sugar, and other stirins in a visible place  

Storing the accessories for a coffee bar is all about presentation. First step is to put in shelving. Use wire baskets, glass jars, and other see-through storage containers. Add a legible label so people don’t have to search through unlabeled, confusing storage to fix their cup to their liking.  

Make it presentable 

Personalize your station with artwork, fresh paint colors, and decorative items. Impress your guests with your interior design skills. Searching at home coffee bar on Pinterest is a good place for design inspiration.  

Make your home an inviting place for all who come through by following these tips for an at-home coffee bar. No matter what design, storage, or coffee you choose just remember to offer a cup.  

The Simple Spring Staging Tricks You Need to be Doing

Warm weather is around the corner, and buyers are ready to find the home of their dreams. Make sure your home matches the tone of the season with these simple spring staging tips that will have you just as ready to sell as buyers are ready to buy!

Hire a landscaper

How do you get potential buyers to look inside your home? You have to catch their attention with the outside! Curb appeal is an important first step in attaining the interest of home buyers. While you can spruce up the outside of your home on your own, hiring a professional can ensure the job gets done quickly and efficiently, and can even shave time off your busy schedule.

Power wash

Cleaning the outside of your home is a must. Weathering of the outside of a home is inevitable, and power washing can restore that same look that made you interested in buying that very home.

Spruce up your porch

The entrance to your home is the first thing potential buyers will see before stepping inside. Repaint your door with a fresh coat, and fill planters with eye catching flowers to bring life into this area.

Clean up winter residue

Despite your best efforts, a long winter of snow, rain, and salt can do some damage to the floors in your home. Cleaning off residue from salt and snow can be a tough task because regular cleaners won’t do the trick. Your best bet to make sure your floors end up clean is to hire a professional who is properly equipped. If hiring a cleaner is not in the budget, make sure you do thorough research on the type of flooring you have and the care needed to treat the floors properly.

Pull back the curtains

Curtains can add a pop of color to any room, but it’s important to pull them back and let the natural light shine in your home for an easy way to brighten it up with out artificial lighting.

Change up the decor

Incorporate throw pillows and blankets that reflect the colors of the season. This change in color will set the tone you want your home to give off to potential buyers. You can also add candles to make your home feel cozy. Everyone has their personal preference when it comes to scents, so it’s a good idea to stick will mild and basic aromas. Refrain from anything too fragrant.


Think about donating unwanted or unused items to make a space seem larger. If you have closets over flowing, reorganize or get rid of items to show off the space your home has to offer!


Flower arrangements and jars of fruit add a pop of color and a spring fresh scent that will give your home the perfect appeal it needs to sell.

Check out americanlifestylemag.com/home for more real estate tips!

Grow in Style: DIY Planter

If you want something other than a store-bought planter to grow plants in, try your hand at this whimsical DIY craft that will give your potted greenery a stylish touch.

Materials for plant marker:
  • Plastic mini toy dinosaur
  • Craft paint, color of your choice
  • Paintbrush
  • Metallic permanent marker
Materials for planter:
  • Knife
  • 4 blocks of clay, colors of your choice
  • Ceramic planter
  • Plastic spoon
  • Baking sheet
  • Herbs or small plant of your choosing
  • Soil
  1. Start by painting the mini toy dinosaur the color of your choice. Set aside to dry.
  2. Preheat oven to 275°F. Use the knife to cut the blocks of clay into small squares. Roll them into balls, and begin placing on the planter in symmetrical rows.
  3. Press each ball of clay with a plastic spoon so it looks like a dinosaur scale. Do this across each row.
  4. Place the planter on a baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes. Remove, and let cool.
  5. Add soil, and plant herbs or plant of your choice in the cooled planter.
  6. Use the permanent marker to write the name of the herb or plant on the dinosaur. Place in the potted plant for the finishing touch.

Share this crafty planter how-to with family and friends.