Ju DePaula’s home is a burst of Brazilian sunshine. Within her 2,000-square-foot abode, chunky pastel seats perch against lime green surroundings, a baby pink staircase spirals beneath an ombre accent wall, and sheer yellow drapes drip from the ceiling. To top it off, you’ll find flowers everywhere: on walls, headboards, artwork, and, naturally, in vases.
This penchant for color stems from DePaula’s childhood growing up in Florianópolis, in southern Brazil. The designer and course creator—who starred on Netflix’s Interior Design Masters—believes that feeling follows form: that environment impacts mood. So, why not have a home that makes you feel good? Her space is an amalgamation of vibrant culture and inner child expression: imaginative, bright, and unapologetic. It’s what makes her feel truly at home in her West Sussex, UK abode, which she shares with her family of four and two fur babies. Ahead, she shares more about her Brazilian inspirations, fantastical imagination, and favorite parts of her home.
How did you first discover your home? What about it appealed to you?
We viewed over 30 properties until we found this house! And it was love at first sight. It needed a lot of TLC, but it had bags of potential. Even though it is a new build, it was designed to replicate an old farmhouse. So, it was the perfect place to create a happy and cozy vibe. We wanted our new home to feel like it was giving us warm hugs and lifting up our spirits. Plus, it didn't need any major renovations, it was just cosmetic.
Does your home fit in with your neighborhood's vibe or does it stand out?
Our home complements its surroundings. The neighborhood was created on an old farm, and there is also lots of green around and a real sense of village life. We also have the gorgeous English countryside at our doorstep!
How would you describe your style and approach to decorating your home?
My style can be described as hyper-feminine, colorful, floral, patterned, bright, and airy with a touch of "Alice in Wonderland" to it—I love how imaginative and playful this story is.
As soon as we got our offer accepted, I started the design process. I was just so excited that I couldn't wait any longer. I wanted our home to look and feel like us, but it also had to be budget-friendly without looking cheap. So, I found creative ways to achieve what I had in mind without spending a fortune. I had to be super smart with our budget so we could afford the high-end fabrics and wallpapers that we love. I also learned lots of new skills from Pinterest and YouTube—like painting, wallpapering, upholstering, sewing, and upcycling. I adore how it turned out, as our home is now filled with one-off pieces made with lots of love. I'm the crazy lady who hugs her furniture!
Who or what are your biggest design inspirations?
Because I design for feeling, I think it's important to find inspiration from who you are and what makes your heart sing. I believe joy is triggered from the outside, so I always add design elements that will spark that happy feeling.
My inspiration comes mostly from precious memories and from what makes me smile—from sunshine to my vibrant childhood in Brazil to my creative mum and her colorful home, and my travels and spring walks in Regents Park with my family.
How does your Brazilian heritage inform your style?
Brazilians are known for being joyful. And my favorite way to celebrate my heritage is by creating spaces that feel happy but airy and calm, too. I grew up on the seaside, and I crave that calmness you get from the ocean. For example, I'm always adding touches of yellow because it reminds me of the Brazilian sunshine, vibrant colors because of my mum's house, and lots of white to bring that airy walk-on-the-beach feeling.
Any other cultures you take design notes from?
Yes! My style is like Brazil: a melting pot. I like to mix different things together to create a space that feels special to us. This includes English style, as I've been living in the UK for almost 20 years now. There’s also a little bit of East Asian style, as my husband is Pakistani. I'm also really into Chinese and Korean period dramas, so it's starting to translate into our home. I'm currently renovating our cloakroom, and it will feature a chinoiserie wallpaper.
What were the greatest finds in your home? Can you share a story behind any of them?
We have quite a few, but my favorite is the little glass cabinet I found at a charity shop. It looks like the one my great-aunt had in her bathroom. I remember as a child being obsessed with it!
Do you have a favorite design feature or room? If so, where is it in the house and what makes it unique?
The living room's fireplace. It used to be red bricks but as soon as we got the house keys, I painted it white. It brings so much coziness, character, and brightness to the room. I absolutely love how the bricks' texture complements the wallpaper next to it.
Where in your home do you spend the most time, and what are you usually doing there?
My office. It's my sanctuary—here, I design for my clients and create content for my students. I waited a long time to have one, so I love spending time here. I can feel the creative energy bubbling every time I walk into this room.