Photography by Jen Jacobs
Electric pinks, fluorescent yellows, aquamarine blues … every room in textile artist Judit Just’s Asheville, N.C., home is a riot of color. Considering the current love of neutral in the design world — white walls, bare floors, minimal furniture — Just’s take-no-prisoners approach to all things bright is nothing short of refreshing. “Color, for me, is directly linked to happiness,” says the 30-year-old. “If you live in a gray house, surrounded by gray things, your mood, well, it’s going to be gray.”
Just, who is originally from Spain — and has an accent that’s so adorable even bad words sound charming — moved to Asheville from her hometown of Barcelona with her husband, Samuel Clemons, in 2013. The two fell in love with the mountain town’s artistic community — and buzzing food scene — after a quick trip in 2012. (They happened to be in the States visiting Clemons’s family in Virginia, where he grew up.)
Since making the big move, her Etsy shop, JujuJust, where she sells hyper-bright, super-shaggy tapestries — which start at $150 — has become wildly popular. “Weaving is something I learned from my mother, but it wasn’t what I’d originally set out to do,” she explains. “I started by making embroidered necklaces and bags. One day I decided to experiment with a tapestry and people went crazy for it.”
Just’s success is due in large part to her mastery of color. Just take a look at her color-coordinated Instagram feed for further proof; it’s full of incredibly organized vignettes and fun detail shots, all awash in a rainbow of hues. Her way with color can be traced back to the very beginning of her educational career. “In Spain, you have to specialize in what you want to study fairly early on,” she says. “I chose arts from the beginning, which means I took at least five different color-theory classes.” In other words, if you’re ever looking for someone to pinpoint the finite differences between “navy” and “indigo,” Just is your girl.
The couple moved into their modern Craftsman-style home — one of the city’s many energy-efficient new builds — in West Asheville just over a year ago. Having a big-enough, bright-enough space for Just’s studio and a separate office for Clemons, who is currently studying speech pathology, is what drew them to the house. “Our home is also our workspace,” she says, of the narrow three-story structure. “It helps that it’s so compartmentalized. I have my studio in the basement, and my husband’s office is on the third floor. We go our separate ways in the morning and at the end of the day meet up on the main floor, where our kitchen and living room are.”
The layout may have been close to perfect, but the home’s finishings, despite their being only a few years old when they moved in, were already feeling pretty worn down. “That was our biggest problem,” says Just. “Figuring out how to give the place a face-lift on our budget.”
They’ve come a long way in a short time, though, by prioritizing their plans. “There was terrible carpet everywhere,” she says, “so the first thing we did was put in hardwoods.” They also painted Just’s workshop white — it was a deep, dark blue — so it could double as a photo studio for the product images she shoots herself. “We’re trying to take on one biggish project at a time, as we can afford it,” she explains.
Next up, they’re turning their focus to the backyard, where the makings of a bamboo privacy wall and edible garden (strawberries, peppers, heirloom tomatoes, and kale) are in the works. Eventually, though, the couple wants to tackle a complete kitchen overhaul, ripping it all out to add some much-needed square footage and efficiency. “Right now, everything feels tight and confined and cut off,” she says. “We love the idea of one day having a big, open living area.”
This one-step-at-a-time approach extends to their thrifty decorating skills, which blend vintage finds (the bedroom cabinet) and family heirlooms (the living room curtains) with newer pieces like an IKEA dining table and West Elm sofa. “I actually brought a lot of things over from Barcelona. That everything made it here in one piece still shocks me,” she laughs. The two have also slowly been accumulating a collection of vintage finds from the city’s many affordable antique shops.
In the hierarchy of the couple’s to-do list, finishing the home’s workspaces came first. “It was impossible for me to get motivated until I had my studio completely set up, all the tables and looms and supplies where they belong, and my inspirations out and on display,” says Just, who, like a lot of work-from-homers, can struggle with staying motivated. She has found one sure-fire way to get things done, though, and that’s having an ironclad routine. “Creativity comes in waves,” she says, “but if I stick to a schedule, I get more done. It also doesn’t hurt that I love what I do — and I get to do it in a home that I love.”
Tiger Mountain for awesome cocktails and local beers.
Flora for fresh flowers and small gifts.
Harvest Records for the best vinyl selection in town.
The Admiral: I don’t think this kitchen has ever made a bad meal. (Stop by on Friday or Saturday after 11 p.m. for the dance party.)
The Biltmore: Take my advice and avoid the house. If you park by the lagoon, away from the crowds, it feels like you have the whole place to yourself.
Nostalgique is a nicely priced antique shop with an eclectic range of furnishings and objects. 126 Swannanoa River Road; 828-505-3556.
Chai Pani is Asheville’s version of Indian street food. Go early, bring friends, and prepare to share.