Janelle Gaw’s Santa Clara Condo Tour

You have a beautiful collection of artwork. Purchasing art can be an intimidating process. How did you go about finding such unique pieces?
I started collecting art prints from Etsy while I was in college.  There are so many amazing artists to choose from!  Original artwork was out of my reach, so prints and posters by independent artists were a nice budget-friendly alternative. Nowadays I supplement Etsy with flash sale sites that include home decor. I also print out my own photos with photo paper and make DIY art.  It’s easy, customizable and affordable! I don’t take my artwork collection too seriously. I have a few stickers, labels, thank-you cards, and a Japanese dessert menu from Tokyo on my living room wall.

What was the decorating process like? How long has it taken to get your home to look how it does now?
I arrived with a bed, a coffee table, an entryway console, some lamps, and art prints. The decorating process was quite sporadic, and I’d collect things over time while thrifting or scouring the clearance aisles of my favorite stores. It has been a little over a year now since I first moved in.

How did you save money when decorating your house?
Most of my decor is from Craigslist, thrift stores, retail clearance, estate and yard sales, and my local antique fair.  Some of my favorite retail sources to dig through are IKEA, Home Goods, Target and Overstock.

What is your favorite budget-friendly piece in your home and why?
Can I have two?  The first one would be the bamboo chair in the office.  I found it at an antique fair for $60.  I had been looking for a reasonably priced one for years and I felt so lucky to find it.  My boyfriend spray painted it a glossy black and I am still so in love with it.

The second one would be the large art print by Michelle Armas in my living room.  I found it during a chaotic Black Friday clearance sale at Urban Outfitters for $20, and I waited in line for over an hour to buy it.  The line snaked through the entire store and I felt a little silly lugging it around without trying to bump into people, but it was worth the time and effort.

When did you start your blog Elle and Ish and why? What were you hoping to get out of it?
I started my blog in the summer of 2009 to track my monthly spending and share my love of shopping and personal finance.  I love to shop but I didn’t want to go broke, so keeping an online shopping diary held me accountable. Honestly I thought no one would read my blog except for me! I feel so blessed that through blogging I’ve found such an amazing group of friends and supporters! Today I still document my monthly (and yearly) spending, share DIY projects and write about my travel adventures.  I’m still trying to strike that balance between indulging and saving for my future.  I think that you really can have it all: maybe not all at once, but through prioritizing your life and figuring out what you really want.

Tell us about your etsy shop, Little Fluff Stuff. How much time do you devote to running it? How did you get the idea to make and sell these products?
In early 2009 I taught myself how to hand sew and I began making little soft toys as a hobby.  As I got better at it, I ended up with so many finished products that I started my own web store through Etsy.  I work full-time as an engineer so I run my Etsy store during my free time.  I’m proud to say that Little Fluff Stuff is a one-woman shop!  Some of my favorite things to sew are little stuffed animals and faux play food for children.

What are your current career aspirations? Where would you like to see yourself in five years?
Honestly I’m not really sure what my career aspirations are at the moment.  I’ve been following this known path for me since grade school, and now that I’m here I really don’t know what lies after that.

This is a time of self reflection for me; I’m not sure where I’m headed, but I’m okay with the uncertainty.  All I know for now is that I want to keep doing my best in my current job, but simultaneously live a fulfilling and creative life.  Figuring out my dream job is an exciting and frightening concept. Hopefully with time I’ll find out what that is.

What advice would you give your 23-year-old self?
Don’t take things too personally.  Be kind to yourself and don’t let the opinions of others consume you.

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