Welcome to DIY Diary. Each entry covers a new home improvement project. Here, Jasmina Johnson taps TikTok design guru Julian Thomas to craft the DIY library nook of her dreams.
Last summer, Jasmina Johnson and her ten-year-old son, Eli, moved into a new apartment in Woodbridge, New Jersey. Back then, if you walked into their home, you would have seen an empty corner just opposite the kitchen. But Johnson saw a space filled with possibility. More concretely, she envisioned a cozy library nook.
“I always wanted my own library where I could display all of the books I’ve held onto since childhood. When I moved into my new place, I wanted to bring that idea to life,” Johnson said. “I thought that creating this special place for my books would also encourage my kid to read more,” she added.
Johnson approached longtime friend Julian Thomas, a.k.a. the Internet’s Favorite Home Boy, with little more than a vision and a Pinterest pic. Thomas, a DIY influencer and creator of viral home decor content, was up for the challenge. He explained on a recent video call, “The caveat was that it’s a rental. You can only do so much in a rental. In Jasmina’s reference photo, there were a lot of built-ins. I thought, We’re gonna have to get creative with this.”
Watch Bushwick-based Thomas’s Instagram and TikTok videos and you’ll immediately realize: The self-taught DIY expert has a more-is-more aesthetic. He likes color and bold accents. He also likes to add an edge. Said Thomas, “I’m glad that people are embracing maximalism again. There’s an idea going around the design community about how minimalism takes away from a lot of ethnicities. Different cultures around the world are known for their design and embellishments. My design style speaks to that.” He added, “That’s another reason why I avoid the whole beige thing. That’s not who I am culturally, and I try to bring the black experience into my content, especially since you don’t see a lot of people who look like me within the design realm.”