Living With Kids: Blair Stocker

September 27, 2011

I reached out to Blair of the wonderful wise craft blog almost immediately after seeing her home featured on Apartment Therapy. I must have scrolled through her tour three times. It wasn’t just the artwork she’d chosen or the colors she’d painted the walls or how she had arranged the furniture that impressed me; it was the sheer thoughtfulness of it all. I’ve always believed that our homes and everything we’ve chosen to put in them and keep around us are often the truest reflections of our personalities. After a week of generous and kind emails from Blair, I can tell you that thoughtful doesn’t even begin to cover it.

She and her husband, Peter, along with their two children and a beloved cat named Gracie, have made an artful home in Seattle, Washington, in between running a brand consulting agency, creating a line of chocolate bars with flavors like Savory Ramen and Apple Pie and Graham, and being…artists!

Enjoy the tour. You’re going to fall in love with Blair and her home, too. I just know it.

I love how you’ve described your style…Bohemian Preppy. Will you share your design and decorating philosophy?

The preppy side of us is our East Coast upbringings…monogrammed towels, Friday night cocktails in sparkly glasses, Lilly Pulitzer patterns around the house in the summer, cuckoo clocks, things like that. The Bohemian, eclectic side of our style is more predominant, because we are true hunters and gatherers. I can’t resist trinkets and knick-knacks in second-hand stores that make us smile. So few things in the world can make us smile these days. My husband loves modern Japanese design. We plan to go to Japan next year; we’ve both been separately, but never together! Having a home filled with unique, handmade things with a story and a history makes me happy.

Everything feels collected…over time and lovingly. Is it difficult to edit?

Everything was definitely collected over time, and everything around our house has some sort of story behind it. Our immediate and extended family and friends are all very talented artists. Because of that, we have amassed quite a collection of art and handmade things, but couldn’t give up a single piece. I have a hard time editing; I usually get my husband to do that for me. We try to do a big, general purge about once a year, only because it feels so good to clear out and go through things. Nothing special ever gets given away though. There’s always room somewhere.

Which projects were the most fun to work on as a family?

We have a love of good design, but not a huge budget for it, so I guess we’ve become very resourceful. If we want to liven up or change a space, our first instinct is to make something, or remake something for it. Things are frequently painted, stripped, moved, and moved again. I have now made two quilts for each bed in the house. It was really interesting to consult with the kids and my husband on what fabrics would be in their quilts, and I love that they sleep under those quilts every night. The last one I made, I distinctly remember quilting it while watching a Harry Potter marathon with my kids last summer. I love those kinds of memories. My husband and my daughter had a blast making the anime wall in the kids’ bathroom together (which I explained how we made on my blog). The kids thought I’d completely lost my mind when I stripped, sanded, and sealed two tree stumps I had talked someone into giving me, which we now use as small tables around the house. I love them! This summer the kids and I painted large rocks with glow-in-the-dark paint to line our patio and glow at night. The things we have fun doing together are the projects I remember. I try to not remember the projects that left us raving mad and frustrated. There are plenty of those, too.

It seems like there are projects happening all the time; what are your rules about clean-up?

We are all about the “get it done” project style. Most of our projects are never long and drawn out; there’s just no time when we work for ourselves. There was a time when the kids were younger when I actually hid their crafting books, because our daughter would flip through one and have out an entire counter’s worth of supplies for five minutes of crafting! These days, I have designated a spot in my basement craft studio where the kids can work, spread things out, and tape things to the wall. My daughter loves it and has become very addicted to creating and painting her clay dragons and listening to This American Life with me down there. I tend to do a “10-minute tidy” of my basement studio space at least once a week — it’s amazing how much can be tidied up in 10 minutes! — and she’s usually motivated to do the same. Other than that, I’m pretty loose about how tidy she keeps that side of the studio, but our rule is if she doesn’t rinse out her paintbrushes, she has to use her allowance to buy new ones. In the rest of the house, we all try to pick up our things, but truthfully it doesn’t always happen. The adults in the house do like to reclaim the family room in the evening after the kids are in bed, so we usually send them upstairs with a small pile of Legos, books, and other things that have migrated throughout the day.

What is your family’s and guests’ favorite area to hang out together?

Always the kitchen! No matter how inviting and welcoming I make any other room of the house, or where I try to move everyone, we all always end up back at our big kitchen island. I’ve finally given in. Now, when guests come over, I put out nibbles, candles, wine glasses, everything all on that big counter. There’s room for everyone. When it’s just the four of us, we love hanging out in our family room. It’s tucked in the rear of the house, gets great light during the day, and is filled with the many quilts I’ve made for chilly nights. There’s a desk for kids to work on homework, board games, and it’s also where we watch movies. Even the cat is in there most of the time, looking for a lap.

Where do you find most of the finds in your home?

We shop on Craigslist for more and more of our furniture (the credenza in the family room, and the tea cart we use as a bar in the dining room are two recent finds), and IKEA is always a favorite for cool, sensible design (our dining room table and chairs came from there, among countless other things around the house). There’s also Anthropologie, Lucca, Pacific Galleries, garage sales, and trading with friends.

You’re leaving a flea market in Paris. What did you buy? (This is a dream, so your purchase can be as big as you’d like!)

Well, first of all I’d get you to come from Normandy to join me! I bought a drippy, sparkly, but not too big chandelier, a unique architectural salvage piece like an old sign, antique linen sheets monogrammed with someone else’s initials, some vintage wool cycling jerseys for my husband, fancy finger bowls made of bone china to put my rings and barrettes in (simple, maybe with gold rims), an oil painted portrait with lots of bright blue in it, a gorgeous and simple cashmere sweater, and a string of pearls.

What’s hanging over the desk in the corner? They look like little tree stumps!

The tree ring art above the desk in the family room are from Tracy Melton. I wish I had dozens more because they are so simple and nice to look at.

There’s so much artwork that makes me smile. I love the picture in the green bath and the tree in the master bedroom…is it a painting or a photograph? Who are your favorite artists to collect, and how do you choose?

First of all, the tree piece in the master bedroom was made by my husband as a gift to me. It’s a photograph he took in a park in Tokyo, and he enlarged the image, blurred and pixelated it, then added in painted details. I love that piece. As for artists and friends whose work I love: Lisa Congdon, ceramic artist Diana Fayt, photographer Nick Clements, mixed media artist Jen Judd-McGee, quilt designer Denyse Schmidt, Lisa Solomon are just a few. I have such an appreciation for the passion an artist feels for what they do, and having work around my home from these artists makes me smile every day. It reminds me that there are creative people carving out a life for themselves everywhere. Just like us.

Speaking of art, tell us about the string art in the dining room. It’s amazing!

I love that wall too! It is actually a pattern sheet created from the Dutch company Momantai, I wrote a little about the process of putting it up here. Yarn and tiny tacks…that’s all it consists of.

Who chooses the art/decor/colors for the kids’ bedrooms?

It usually starts with a collaborative effort. Our daughter is going to be 13 soon, and it’s really time for her room to be updated. I will definitely try and influence some of her decor choices; her wish for dragon-covered wallpaper, for example, would not be the best choice. When we painted our son’s bedroom walls a few years ago, we used a saturated orange shade was partly based on a favorite diecast car of his. Other than that, their rooms are their spaces to express themselves.

The room color that makes you the happiest whenever you see it:

Our master bedroom walls are my favorite: Benjamin Moore’s Paperwhite. It changes all day. I do like our main floor bathroom’s Forest Moss. That’s doing green walls like we mean it!

What do your children love most about your home?

I think they love their rooms most of all. My daughter also loves her crafting space in my basement studio. My son would say he loves the pantry that holds all the snacks and our big TV.

Yours is a home that just doesn’t magically appear overnight via one catalog order. How has your style evolved over the years and after living with kids?

Because everyone here has their own artistic side, there are constantly new pieces, quilts, and special things out on display. I used to want it all out where I could see it, which made my husband a little crazy; he would be very happy in a house outfitted only with his bikes, a comfortable couch and bed, a large TV, and a fridge full of Pelligrino! Actually, it made me a little crazy too. I’ve learned to rotate things seasonally and now I really enjoy changing things out periodically. After our kids came along our decor got much more practical, and I recall putting most of my beloved knick-knacky things away for several years. Today, we incorporate everyone in the main living spaces. We have boardgames out in the family room to remind kids it’s not always about playing Wii when friends come over, we keep colored pencils in simple containers for when inspiration hits to draw, and there are always books to look at.

Tell us when your home works best…

I think our home feels like it is perfectly laid out when we are each able to find our own “space” within it during the day. There’s room to craft, there’s room to build Legos, there’s room to cozy up and read. This is not a large house, but when everyone has a little room like that, it feels like we are right where we need to be.

Inspiring, right? For more thoughtfulness, visit Blair here daily.

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Angeerah September 27, 2011 at 9:52 am

I love the description of her style: Bohemian Preppy! I too grew up on the east coast and preppiness was definitely part of my style. On the flip side, I tend to be a little arty and quirky so I think that part definitely comes out just as much. I loved looking at the photos of her house and the bathroom photo cracked me up because there is a black and white cat stretching out across the rug! Thank you so much for sharing!

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2 Kristen E September 27, 2011 at 10:01 am

I love that her house is so eclectic, but feels put-together at the same time. That’s what I struggle with the most. Our house has such random pieces that we’ve been given (or occasionally bought), but I don’t feel like they go together. I’m working on it, so this is GREAT inspiration! Thanks! :)

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3 aubry. September 27, 2011 at 10:32 am

seeing this house reminds me that THIS is the style i like… love. that when i see other homes on blogs, pinterest, etc. – those are all well put together rooms, but this is what i love. where there’s too much to look at, personality all over, color!, tokens of handmade, and lots of cozy. i lo-o-o-ve this space.

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4 Ann September 27, 2011 at 10:36 am

I love the kids rooms! My kids would love them too! I love the action figures on top of the quilt. That is my life right now. Action figures and minfigs E V E R Y WHERE!!

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5 christine September 27, 2011 at 11:17 am

Love this so much.
I can relate to having so much good stuff from our talented friends, and I like the idea of rotating things in & out according to season (or mood).
I especially appreciate hearing that she had to put away her knick-knacks for a while while the kids were young. With a 2-year-old and 2-month-old here, I might have to do the same!

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6 Lizzi September 27, 2011 at 11:42 am

Holy cow, this woman is my twin! Except she’s more articulate, what a great thing to have found!

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7 Laura Bradford Kirch September 27, 2011 at 11:55 am

This is crazy, I knew which house this was from the front porch. I used to live a few blocks away from this house and would often walk by and covet the house. I love this house. What a crazy coincidence to stumble upon this through blogland. You’re in England, I now live in a nearby area from house in Seattle, and then there it is, the house I would often dream about having.

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8 Noemi @ GetFreeBabyCoupons September 27, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Such an inspirational family. I love the colors of their home and it also feels that they live there. It’s really cosy and welcoming.

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9 Amanda September 27, 2011 at 1:16 pm

I REALLY love the “happy” pillow and the yellow and grey quilt!

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10 Christa The BabbyMama September 27, 2011 at 1:31 pm

I just wanted to chime in and say I love this house! Unlike so many house tours, this house actually looks lived in. And I mean that in the nicest way possible. It’s a house, not a museum, right? So why shouldn’t a house look lived in?!

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11 Maruysa September 27, 2011 at 1:39 pm

so nice home! :) I like that style!

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12 The Woman Formerly Known as Beautiful September 27, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Could you please inform Blair that I’m on the way to her house and am hoping to have some ganache at that dining room table. Chocolate ganache.

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13 Ashlea Walter September 27, 2011 at 1:54 pm

I love it. What time’s dinner?!

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14 suzanne @ pretty swell September 27, 2011 at 1:54 pm

So beautiful! A home filled with treasures … I love it. My friends call me a “sentimental hoarder,” so I can relate to Blair’s thoughts on those handmade gifts or works of art from family and friends. Just lovely!

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15 Kelly September 27, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Thank you, I’ve been reading Wisecraft for a long time and consider Blair such an inspiration!

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16 Barbara September 27, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Love the peek in someone’s home. Love to hear how people feel abou their homes. They should definitely be somewhere that pleases us. We work on having a peaceful energy in our home. Simplify. Lots of white. Meditation and/or prayer to keep it calm. Thanks for the tip to the tour of this one.

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17 jodi September 27, 2011 at 3:50 pm

I LOVE these posts. So inspiring!

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18 blair/wise craft September 27, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Gabrielle and everyone, thank you for such lovely comments. Our homes are so personal to us, and I know I always enjoy and appreciate a peek into seeing how others create their homes for their families. This house works hard for us, but we appreciate every inch of it.

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19 Summer September 27, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Awesome! She does seem super creative and nice!

Am I the only one unable to get any of her site up? :( I want to see moooore! :D

Thank you both for sharing!

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20 Linda Powers September 27, 2011 at 9:00 pm

I want to visit!

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21 rubi September 28, 2011 at 8:45 am

I love this! It actually inspired me to finish organizing our new apartment, it can be so overwhelming!

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22 All Unwound September 28, 2011 at 11:31 am

I just love looking at how other people put their homes together. I also have many different things collected over the years. They don’t go together like a furniture store photo shoot. So I’m constantly working on pulling things together. Thanks for sharing this.

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23 Candy from Candied Fabrics September 29, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Oh my GOODNESS! I just came over here from Blair’s blog to find a wonderful interview of her here. And then, in the sidebar…VOILA! You live in that AWESOME house in the French countryside! I totally fell in love with it when I saw that episode, I’m so stoked to have found your site. I can’t wait to rummage around and see all the cool stuff you’ve got here! ;-)

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24 Tammy Gilley December 22, 2011 at 7:55 pm

Hey Blair. I clean for your mom and she sent me this Blog. I love it and I love your house. Just Beautiful. Love the sweater with beads that you did for your mom.

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25 Brooke January 17, 2012 at 5:23 pm

hi, luv your house! Is the Forest Moss ( green ) also B.Mooore?

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26 Smithc607 March 27, 2014 at 10:26 am

Very nice! cfeedfedae

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27 A Reinhart December 9, 2014 at 7:17 am

I originally saw the tree photo in the master bedroom on Pinterest months ago. Any chance your husband would print another … for me?

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