Living With Kids: Melissa de la Fuente

March 20, 2012

I like to think of Melissa as my own personal Etsy curator. Almost daily, she gives me a reason to fall in love with accessible art. She has this gift of finding the most perfect gems in a vast sea of treasures, and seems to know exactly what my walls need, exactly what I should be carrying, and exactly what I should be wearing. It’s no surprise to me that such a thoughtful collector of beauty would have an equally thoughtful, art-laden home. Enjoy this one, Friends!

Q: Tell us about the family who lives here!

A: Our happy little family consists of me, my husband Joel, our two beautiful daughters, Elena (10) and Tallulah (6), our two pups, Maddie and Luna, and one tiny turtle named…wait for it…Turtle. My hubby and I were both trained as actors; he went to Brown and NYU grad acting, and I went to Juilliard. He is a working actor and though I still do voice-over work — maybe you remember this commercial featuring me and Elena and my voice almost ten years ago? — I am mostly a full time mom & blogger.


Q: How did your house come to be your home?

A: Our home was a bunch of good luck thrown our way almost three years ago. It is an 1898 Victorian. I’ve always had a weird prejudice against Victorians because I believed they were spooky, but with this one I quickly realized I had judged them unfairly. Our home is bright, cheerful, and has a wonderful energy about it. As soon as we walked onto the front porch, which was something I’d wanted my whole life, I was done. This was it. I was in love. And every day I feel so grateful to call this old and beautiful gal, home. It’s definitely our forever home, in my mind.


Q: How would you describe your style?

A: Oh boy, I never know how to describe my style! I usually say it is eclectic; I will mix anything and everything together, as long as I like it. Some of my favorite interior books illustrate what I aspire to surround myself with and what makes my heart sing: Holly Becker’s Decorate, Sibella Court’s Etcetera, Mary Randolph Carter’s Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of A Misspent Life, and Deborah Needleman’s The Perfectly Imperfect Home.


Q: You’ve got such a talent for showcasing your collected artwork with style! We’d love to hear your tips to maintaining a manageable collection rather than a mess!

A: I am a big believer in “Everything has a place and everything in its place” only because I can’t seem to think straight if there is a huge mess. I get overwhelmed. So I try to only have things I really, really love around. When it comes to my girls’ artwork, I have a couple of systems.

I mix my favorites in with the other framed art on the art wall in our dining room or on the stairs.

We also have an ever-changing art gallery, which is a giant burlap-covered inspiration board in the dining room, and I rotate new pictures in and move the older ones upstairs into posterity boxes I have for each of them in the attic.

Since my littlest is such a prolific artist, we gave her a professional portfolio for her birthday. It’s for serious artists, we told her, and she thinks it’s great for any day-to-day overflow and the artwork she really wants to keep.

I hate throwing away anything they have made, but I try to only keep the stuff that is really so “them.” I don’t keep anything from school that is just pre-fabricated or fill-in-the-blanks.

Q: Describe your favorite wall in the house…

A: That is so hard to choose! Right now, I would say, the wall above our TV. There is a painting I call Mattie that has been in my family forever, a Shanna Murray decal that says “I love you more than all the stars,” an India Rose lantern, and some paper pom-poms.



Q: You’re the Queen of Etsy Artists! Honestly, you feature someone new-to-me every day! Which artists do you recommend for adding instant and affordable style to your home?

A: Oh wow! That is really hard to choose because there are so many! I’m constantly sharing these things on my blog, so it is a fairly good archive of all of my favorites over the past six years. For a completely curated collection, you could browse my Etsy favorites page, or this Pinterest board dedicated to Art and this one devoted to Handmade. That is the best way to share all the artists who move me…yesterday, today, and tomorrow! So keep checking for inspiration!

Q: If you could choose only three items in your home — besides your loved ones and furry friends! — to save forever, what would you choose?

A: I’d grab the polar bear head by Tamar Mogendorff. Tamar’s work constantly inspires me and makes me happy. It is fantastical, yes. But it is happy-inducing and so incredibly unique. Every piece is so rich with texture, whimsy, and love. Not to mention, there is usually a bit of glamour thrown in. I have a few of her pieces, but the polar bear head wearing a crown is my favorite. In this photo, the polar bear is framed by another Shanna Murray decal. My husband gave it to me about five Christmases ago and she has moved around to different spots, but, I never get tired of her. She reminds me of the beautiful things in life: creativity, inspiration, love, and not taking yourself too seriously.

I’d also save my husband’s drawings of our girls. He makes one every morning to put into their lunches, and they make me ridiculously happy. He captures some snapshot of their day: what they are loving or hoping for or excited about. They are usually really funny or touching and I don’t know how he does it every day. I am a terrible drawer. When he’s out of town or has to leave super early, they get a sad little note from me that says “I love you! xoxo Mama.”

Last but not least, I’d bring the painting I call Mattie that has been in our family as long as I can remember. Mattie was an amazing lady who helped raise us, and I loved her desperately when I was a little girl. She died when I was eight, and this portrait of her was done by a relative way back when. I love it and it makes me feel like I am home.

Q: What’s your philosophy for kids’ rooms and spaces?

A: Whew, that is easy! It is totally up to them! I don’t try to impose too much on them. My littlest one loves to keep everything. And I mean, every. thing. that. comes. her. way. So she has a lot of cardboard boxes under her bed filled with treasures, a small decorated box filled with three cicadas, every teeny tiny thing she has ever made in clay…you get the gist!


My eldest is ten going on thirty, so she has her own ideas about style and how she wants her room to be. I have always loved seeing what they love, what makes them happy, and how they are different from me. I have no interest in making them my carbon copy. It is exciting for me to see what they are made of.

The only thing I do encourage is to try to keep their rooms relatively neat and organized. And every so often I encourage them to get rid of stuff or donate it. I think when you know what you have, you are more likely to use it or treasure it. Mostly, I just want their space to make them feel safe, happy, and inspired.

Q: What do you hope your home says about you and your family?

A: I hope that it says we are about love, kindness, finding beauty in the little things, and loving each other for exactly who we are and celebrating it. I also hope that the friends who visit feel welcome, comfortable, and cozy. That our home is a little escape from the everyday.

Q:  If you had an unlimited budget and could purchase anything for your home, from furniture to an addition or a piece of art, what would you buy?

A: I would paint, paint, and paint some more! Every room! We couldn’t do that before we moved in and that is one of my favorite things to do. I can pick a paint color in the snap of a finger; I don’t ruminate all that much. I would also love to landscape our backyard and make it nice; we spend so much time on the front porch, that the backyard needs a little TLC! And in my dream of dreams? I’d add on to the kitchen and make it a beautiful hub, with a little breakfast nook and plenty of space to make yummy things and visit. Oh, and I’d finish the basement to be a rad kid hang-out!

Q:  Finish the sentence: I wish I had known…

A: I wish I had known what a better person I would be after having my children. I have been through things and learned things from having them that would have served me incredibly well as a person navigating my life before them.

—-

Thank you, sweet Melissa! A giant yes to this: “I think when you know what you have, you are more likely to use it or treasure it.” Your girls are so lucky to have such artistically generous parents. After spending a little time with your photos, I came to the conclusion that your walls tell your family’s story. If I may suggest a title, you could call it Love. And I guarantee Joel’s notes will be hanging in their own homes someday. Too sweet.

Friends, do you remember her commercial? It made me teary then and it still does today. Also, I love how Melissa refers to her home as a beautiful old gal, don’t you? Have you ever personified your house or given it a name? After living in La Cressonnière, I’m inspired to give every future home its very own name!

All photos taken by Melissa’s friend and fellow blogger, Marichelle.

P.S. — You can find all the homes in my Living With Kids series here. If you’d like to share your home with us, drop me a note. I’d love to hear from you!

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sharon @ Discovering blog March 20, 2012 at 7:31 am

“we are about love, kindness, finding beauty in the little things, and loving each other for exactly who we are and celebrating it”

So beautiful.
Love this one, it shows a real home with real (talented) people. Her girls are lucky that they have the freedom to be who they will be, and the love and support from their mom and dad to have the confidence to grow.

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2 ModFruGal March 20, 2012 at 8:04 am

I am so touched by the daily drawings! That is an amazing gift to your children. Lovely tour.

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3 Alison March 20, 2012 at 8:24 am

I love that I can actually picture life happening in this home – that is rare in most the beautiful homes on display. The stained glass is incredible!

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4 jennifer March 20, 2012 at 8:34 am

I love Melissa, she is one of the sweetest people I know. Her family is just as lovely (and the pups too!) and so is her beautiful, beautiful home!

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5 karey m. March 20, 2012 at 8:51 am

oh. joel’s notes. i think i might cry!

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6 Melissa de la Fuente March 20, 2012 at 9:23 am

oh my….I am ( almost) speechless. This is so incredibly lovely, Gabrielle. Thank you SO much for asking me to take part & for painting SUCH a lovely picture of me & my home. And thank you for the kind comments….it means so much to me! :)
xoxo
Melis

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7 cindy k March 20, 2012 at 9:24 am

melissa’s home is as beautiful as she is. lovely to learn more about her as she gives so much to others.

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8 kalanicut March 20, 2012 at 9:44 am

Inspired to find more ways to display our little one’s art, which we already totally treasure. Thanks for sharing this lovely home.

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9 Shannon { A Mom's Year } March 20, 2012 at 10:14 am

I totally remember that commercial! It always made me smile, so what a treat to meet the mother and baby!

And I love Melissa’s home. Out of the all the wonderful homes featured, I could relate to hers the most. As someone once said to me, “You can definitely tell children live here.” I decided to take it as a compliment!

(I can also relate to Melissa’s need for some degree of order: “A place for everything and everything in its place.” I’ve learned with four kids and 500 animals that it’s nice to be able to find things when you need to!)

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10 liz March 20, 2012 at 10:39 am

This house has so much more clutter — in a good way — than most homes you see featured on blogs. It looks like people live here! And that they didn’t hide all of their stuff for the photo shoot! Thanks for being both inspirational and real. Also did anyone else notice that the tour doesn’t draw attention to the furniture at all? Instead it’s about the art and little things that make the house a home. Lovely.

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11 Bree March 24, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Liz, I was just going to write the same thing! I get so bored of seeing the, as I liked to call them, “Oh Dee Doh-styled” rooms on blogs. Not to diss because I do love Oh Dee Doh, Apartment Therapy, et al., but I find it so hard to connect with some of the kids rooms. My kids’ rooms are covered in a mismash of things, including but not limited to, handmade world maps, handcut numbers and letters, crayon drawings, and an insert from Halloween’s Tinkerbell costume. I find it funny when blogs feature kids rooms full of minimalist Scandinavian furniture and Etsy prints. I just think, where is their actual stuff?

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12 Lauren March 20, 2012 at 10:48 am

So beautiful. Melissa’s home is wonderfully styled but even more than that you can tell it is just filled with light & love.

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13 vermontmommy March 20, 2012 at 11:17 am

I love the art in your home. I wondered what sort of tape you use in your children’s rooms to hang their own works of art? I let my kids use painters tape as it won’t destroy the walls when you take it off. I would love another option. Thank you.

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14 Melanie March 20, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Ahh! I LOVE this home! I got to meet sweet Melissa in person at Alt and it’s so cool to see her place. It’s so inspiring and it’s making me look forward to some of the cool art stuff we can do with Nathaniel when he’s older. Thanks for sharing it!

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15 Clementine Cassie March 20, 2012 at 7:25 pm

What a fantastic feature on a truly wonderful woman and her sweet family! Marichelle’s photos are just perfect – they really do capture both the intimate details and the overall warmth and character of the d.l.F. house!

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16 Melissa de la Fuente March 20, 2012 at 8:13 pm

Aw, thank you friends! So kind & so sweet! @vermontmommy thank you & I think your idea is a smart one! I use washi tape ( http://www.etsy.com/shop/PrettyTape ) or just plain ole scotch tape when nothing else is on hand. But, I confess….since we haven’t painted , I don’t concern myself with marks on the wall all that much! eep. sorry I am not more helpful! :)
xoxo

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17 vermontmommy March 25, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Thank you. I will give the washi tape a try. :)

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18 Laura Gaskill March 21, 2012 at 4:06 am

Oh my. What a special, special tour! I am definitely in the Melissa fan club, rah! rah! Go Melis! So I am especially happy to see her wonderful home here…it’s so warm, cozy, friendly, creative, happy, and obviously filled with love, just like Melissa herself. This is just what I hope my own home to feel like, it really makes my heart swell! : ) xoxo Laura

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19 Lisa J. March 21, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Lovely home! I agree with the comment that you can imagine life happening in your home. What a wonderful gift to your family!

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20 Torey March 21, 2012 at 9:39 pm

Very fun and pretty. Sounds like a neat family and home. :)

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21 Marichelle March 22, 2012 at 6:57 pm

These pictures don’t even do it justice! Melissa’s home is truly one of my all time favorites – it’s full of life and love. I’ve always admired Melissa’s style and lucky enough to be able to ask for her help when redecorating my own home – she’s got such a knack for furniture placement! xo

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22 Andrea March 23, 2012 at 7:43 am

Melissa’s home is truly inspiring (and so is Melissa!). She has incredible talent for decorating. Her home is always so welcoming and warm and beautifully filled with treasures and love!! She’s a gem!!!

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23 Melissa de la Fuente March 23, 2012 at 9:58 am

Oh my…thank you lovelies! I am still riding on the joy this post has given me and all of your lovely comments. Thank you friends; lovely Laura, Marichelle and Andrea. Thank you Lisa J. and Torey too! :)
xo
Melis

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24 Beth March 26, 2012 at 9:53 am

Like a fat kid loves cake?

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25 Melissa de la Fuente March 31, 2012 at 6:18 am

It actually says; “Love you like a fat kid loves cake” and it is made by Indigo Bunting ( here: http://theindigobunting.bigcartel.com/product/love-you-like-a-fat-kid-loves-cake ) :)
xo
Melis

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