This Mom Wants to Help You Decorate Your Home For Less
Born to parents who emigrated from South Korea to America in their teens, Joy Sunyoung Fitzgerald got her money lessons early on. Her mother and father learned how to be frugal from their own parents who were in the Korean War and experienced poverty. In turn, they showed Fitzgerald how to both be frugal and how to spend to enjoy life. "They really fostered that balance and showed me how to do both," recalls Fitzgerald, who was born in Berkeley, California.
At the same time, they were being "very intentional" about saving for Fitzgerald's college tuition. And when she went off to pursue her higher education, she began to truly recognize the value of money and just how much the everyday expenses of life cost.
Pursuing a degree in hospitality management, she planned to become a wedding coordinator and designer. "I saw that as a really good blend of creativity and also practical, detail-oriented skills," she explains.
Although she started out with a corporate job, by summer 2012, Fitzgerald was inspired to start her own business, called Made by Sohn, providing calligraphy, illustration, and styling services. "I was an anxious wreck when I quit my job, but it was a very intentional decision to not let that anxiety rule over me," she says. "No one I knew in my family had ever done such a thing or ever encouraged such a thing." While it was scary, she says she felt confident enough to at least try. "I knew that if I didn't try now, I would regret it forever," recalls Fitzgerald.
In 2014, she and her husband welcomed their first child and quickly realized they couldn't afford child care unless she went back to a full-time job. Discouraged that either a full-time job or being a stay-at-home mom would mean giving up her artistic outlets, Fitzgerald soon noticed how motherhood "requires more creativity" than she ever had to do as a business owner. "I just had to reframe what creativity meant to me," she notes. "It wasn't just working on a piece of paper. It was knowing how to manage your time and emotions and needs. And how do you work all of that to make a life that can flow?"
In 2015, the couple bought their first home and continued to be intentional about what they were spending to fix it up. In 2018, they welcomed their second child and found themselves in a position to buy another home that fit their growing needs. Although the new house was just 1,000 square feet, Fitzgerald quickly got to work, making sure the space was designed with intention and functionality. "When I wake up in the morning, I want to look at my house and be like, 'This is a blank canvas where anything is possible,'" she notes.
Now, Fitzgerald is blending her thirst for creativity and experience with creating not only through Made by Sohn but by teaching clients in an online course called "Creating a Beautiful Life at Home."
Here are some of her best tips for your family home.
Create Your Space to Fuel Your Life
Your intention and how you design your space can affect how you live and your emotions, according to Fitzgerald. "With children, for example, [say] I don't have a good place for them to put their toys and their toys are everywhere—I'm going to be frustrated," she says. "It has emotional, physical, and mental implications as well. So what can I do to create a space for them to play and to have a place for their items?"
This has meant designing a whole space specifically for her children. "Books are at their height, so they're able to be self-sufficient," she explains. "All of those details greatly affect me and them. They can feel independent."
Think About Your Financial Well-Being
Fitzgerald encourages people to consider how organization affects their financial goals. "My home has to be orderly so that [I can have the mental] capacity to [make] financially sound decisions," she explains. "We design our finances."
For instance, she and her husband have set up automatic withdrawals for their children's savings accounts, retirement accounts, and general savings, so they know they're always on track.
Embrace What Makes Your Family Unique
For Fitzgerald, living intentionally and creating a beautiful home and life also means identifying what makes you and your family unique. "It's such an amazing experience to reflect on that, because you start embracing and seeing the beauty of your situation," she explains.
What that looks like in practice: "I just can't afford a $1,000 [art] piece, so I'm going to embrace the art that my children make and use that," says Fitzgerald.
Give Yourself Grace
Although Fitzgerald urges families to always be intentional, life happens and plans change. The bottom line, according to the creative mom of two: "Allow yourself for grace and flexibility when your plan doesn't pan out."