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Interior Designer Interview w/ Johnelle Mancha of Mignonne Decor

One of Oakland's design gems Mignonne Decor. This is a combined spot to purchase uniquely curated pieces, to revive furniture through upholstery, and to have high touch interior design services.

I had the opportunity to work there under the guidance of charismatic powerhouse, Johnelle Mancha, whose business has evolved beautifully throughout the years. Her love of design is inspirational and I'm so happy to share more about her journey here.

Were you always interested in design?

Ye​s! I have always been into art specifically, getting my hands dirty. I spent my childhood covered in paint etc.. Then when I opened the shop my love of vintage and design has grown over the past 11 years of being open. Having a brick and mortar has really allowed me to be part of the community I love, and is where I was able to meet clients that have invited me into their homes to expand my design work on larger scales than the shop!​

How would you define your design style?

My style i​s definitely eclectic, but grows & changes over the years as do I. I have a great appreciation for a variety of architecture, and my interior work is influenced often by the style of home I am working on. I believe any space can be elevated with something soulful, a splash of color, and contemporary notes to balance.

Who or what influences your work?

W​hat influences my work is primarily my travels. Since my mother lives in France, I love going to the Broccantes & French Flea Markets in the Dordogne region of France where she lives. Flea Marketing in Europe ​is so different than the states, because the items you can discover can often times be much older. SO when travelling, I am always on the hunt for textiles, and soaking in the trends and learning more about styles of decor abroad.

What's a must-have item you make sure your interior designs include?

I always must have beautiful & original art when I can. Even if it's something I paint on canvas for my client's to help save on costs, as art can be pricey, it's something I am really passionate about. That, and a good vintage rug!

If you had to pick a favorite room in your home, which would it be and why?(

I love my living room, because it's where my family spends the most time! And because I have my 2 favorite art pieces, one by Louisiana Bendolph & the other by dear friend and painter Nicole Buffett amongst other favorite items, like the sideboard inherited by mother and father and couch I re reupholstered at my shop.

What are the challenges about being a business owner?

Challenges of being a business owner, is that you never feel like you can shut your biz off. You take your projects / clients / work home with you, because you are passionate. My business is an extension of myself, and I am constantly giving it all I've got!

What is one of your favorite aspects of your business? Why?

One of my most favorite aspects, is being able to be fortunate enough to work a career that truly inspires me and that I love. I am equally grateful for my clients who have supported me, along with the people I've met over the years, included current and past staff!

What drove you to furniture design? What is the value of revamping pieces?

One of the reasons I am so drawn to furniture redesign, is just the love I have for quality furniture I find when scouting that needs a little love to keep on! I am also inspired to have affordable prices with the furniture we sell in my showroom. So knowing that client's can invest in a dining table for example, that has so much more character than a similarly priced new piece is really cool for me. Our pieces that I find are either vintage and sold as found / original, or spruced a bit, and most often times made from solid wood. I am also inspired by the way vintage furniture was made, often times more often that not by craftsman / people, not machines. With reupholstery, I am just so in love with textiles, and the fact that I can work on reupholstery with my team, is like painting to me, where I can design a piece of art, whether simple and understated, or more imaginative.

Share a collaboration you've had with another artist/designer that meant a lot to you.

A collaboration with another artist that means the world, would be the projects I work on very frequently with my husband & carpenter Brian Hill. He is patient, much more than me when it comes to custom fabrication. It's a profession of it's own, and something that I have learned so much about over the years thanks to him. I am able to articulate the quality that comes with custom made pieces to my client's because of this. I am able to dream up redesigns, such as custom kitchen eating nooks / cabinetry to anchor a room, dining tables etc and Brian is my dream builder.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of being able to have a career and design aesthetic that not only interests me, but interests others. It is the biggest form of success in my book, to know that my curations and furniture live in the homes of my client's continues to motivate me and humble me.

What​'s next?​

Well, more designing of course! And I am in the process of opening a new business, a neighborhood wine bar set to open early 2018 in North Oakland. And designing this new space is something I am very proud of, and excited to unveil the space I am designing there. And lastly, I am growing my travel business: LUSH Getaways (, co-founded with my mother Kimberlee Mancha, who owns a boutique in the town she lives in the Dordogne: Brantome, France called The Bohemians .

Our company LUSH provides authentically curated culinary trips to this region once a year!

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