I’m stumped about how to introduce this week’s home tour to you. The word that seems most appropriate to describe it is happy, but I’ve spent more than a few minutes trying to think of a better one. I mean, there’s a cozy nook! And a chalkboard! A wall of vintage maps! Over-sized art! A chubby baby! Suddenly, mid-smile, I realized that we can’t do much better than happy, can we? Happiness is a design style we should all covet. So welcome to a glimpse into Rae’s happy home and happy family.
Q: Tell us all about the happy family who lives here!
A: What a big question! I’ll start with the babe and work my way up.
Griffin William (G Dub) just turned one, and has the Scandinavian look like his daddy. Aside from his cute packaging, he is super sneaky and tends to do things when people aren’t looking. For instance, it was a few weeks after he started crawling that we actually saw him do it. No joke.
Tilly Jane (Matilda) is our almost four year old wanderlust. You don’t know where she is going or what she is up to, but you know it’s going to be good. Or naughty. Like when she visits the other team’s dugout after a game to mooch a snack before coming to mooch one from her brother’s team. “Tilly, where did you get that doughnut?” She is also our encourager. If you want to feel amazing about yourself, go talk to Tilly. Seriously. However, she has zero regard for personal space so I recommend a phone call.
Espen just turned six, and if I had to pick a child to spend the day with, it would be this little dude. He gets excited about everything, small or big. Waking up (excited), getting a strawberries and crème at Starbucks (excited), vacationing at Disney Land (excited), having a friend over (super excited). In addition, he is the resourceful child that plays with Legos for hours, cracks the password on my iPhone, and gets the family laughing when we need it most.
Ozzie is our tween – 11 ½ – who is entering middle school. It’s been very surreal to watch him grow up because I was 20 and in college when I had him. We’ve been through the ringer together, and I’m impressed with how amazing he is every single day. Most of his spare time is spent playing sports or click-clacking his Kendama around the house. He also still does crafts with me, holds my hand in public, is really picky about who his friends are, and has little interest in girls. Pretty much a dream come true for this mama.
Then there is my husband Johan, who I met in college and knew as our school mascot. As you might imagine, he is loud and playful and full of fun. He spends a lot of time coaching, can wrangle kids like no other, and comes in handy at birthday parties. We work together really well because he has little interest in style and design but knows how to build, wire, and fix things. He is a fireman and was on shift on the day we took pictures.
Q: Where do you make your home?
A: We live in a little suburb of Seattle called Bonney Lake. Our town is full of young families raising children, which is one of its greatest qualities. Tons of parent helpers in school and moms wandering around Target passing time before preschool pick up…you know? There are also lots of parks, you-pick farms, markets, antique shops, and activities for little ones. Plus a beautiful lake a few minutes from our home and a ski mountain less than an hour away.
Q: How did your home become yours?
A: At the time we bought our home, we were living with some close friends. It was a really fun time, but we also didn’t want to overstay our welcome. Even before we had the financial side of things in order, I started house hunting. During that time I drove by a blue modified A-frame home with a For Sale sign in front almost daily, but wasn’t impressed so I never bothered to stop. Later on in our search, Johan got involved and found a house he wanted to view. Much to my surprise, it was the blue house I didn’t like!
I begrudgingly went in, but the second my foot crossed the threshold my opinion changed. I loved it. It was where we were supposed to live and it had nothing to do with the lack of storage or builder-grade everything or dirty cream colored walls and carpet that the previous owners left. I have no other way to describe it except that it felt just like home.
Q: How would you describe your design aesthetic? Has it changed since you’ve had kids?
A: I would call my style casual-eclectic with a side of clean-modern. I think my mom would have described that as my style even as a young girl. So while the kids haven’t changed that, after having them I did spend some time trying to adopt the cottage look. However, I didn’t make it much past the blue-gray cabinets, bead board, and silhouettes.
The one thing that may never change about how I design is my love for paint (not to be confused with the act of painting!) and use of white, gray, and black. I love using these colors as a base and then adding splashes of brighter color. It also makes it crazy easy to change color palettes for the season or whenever you get bored. Just swap out curtains and throw pillows, and you’re more than halfway there!
Q: Describe your favorite spot in the house. What do you love most about it, and how do you spend your best time there?
A: Hands down, my favorite spot is the little nook in our kitchen. I’ve spent countless mornings nursing babies from that spot while directing traffic and watching the kids eat breakfast.
It used to be a built-in desk with zero storage, but it didn’t function very well so we ripped it out, added a cabinet to hold crafting supplies, a bench, comfy cushion, and pillows for a cozy seat, and three rolling bins for the kids’ shoes. What I love most is that it’s completely handmade and we use the area for so many things on a daily basis.
Q: What’s your best DIY you’ve accomplished in your home?
A: It’s so simple, but painting the cabinets in the kitchen and adding handles made the biggest difference for me. It took the blah out of my downstairs area, and even made it more fun to cook. I highly recommend this DIY if you want to freshen up your kitchen or any room with outdated cabinets. Even if the idea of ruining them terrifies you or you are not sure what color to pick, you still need to do it! Sorry for being bossy!
I guess that would also be my advice to those who dream of attempting a home project but are too scared to start. Just do it. Having a DIY project go awry is better than having beautiful ideas rumbling around your head and not bring them to life. Trust me. You will figure it out if things do go south!
Q: You’ve got your own company. Tell us all about it! And how do you separate home and work?
A: ARMOMMY is a lifestyle company for moms that I started with my mom. Our focus is on design, function, and homemade goodness. A large part of the company involves our blog, but we also offer a lot of other goodies. Like printable designs that everyone should check out. Products such as the smib, door bumper, and reusable snack bags that my family uses on a daily basis. We offer design & branding services for mompreneurs. We have a monthly meal planning subscription called the spread that makes mealtime oh so easy. And threads video sewing classes, which are our gift to everyone who is dying to sew but could use a little more than a few pictures in a tutorial. You are not alone!
Balancing work and home? Again, another huge question! I could talk about this for hours, but the short answer is quite simply: I do the best I can. Luckily, I can involve my family in a lot of the DIY and cooking projects we do. However, when it is clear that my kids or husband need more than a half-hearted head nodding and “uh huh,” I close my laptop and step away. My extremities might be able to multi-task, but sadly my brain is terrible at it. So, I schedule chunks of time during naps or when my husband can help with kids to finish emails and other things that need my full attention.
Q: What are you trying to teach your kids with the design and intention of your home’s decor?
A: We try to instill the importance of relationship, creativity, and teamwork. Johan and I do our best to make our home welcoming, not just for our friends and our children, but also their friends and other church or sports groups in which we are involved. The kids also share rooms, so there is a lot of time for bonding and getting into trouble together.
Instilling creativity comes pretty naturally. For me, it’s all about letting them make a mess, try new things, display their projects, and have a say about how their space looks.
The other part of making a home welcoming is taking care of it. This is where the teamwork comes in. Because our schedules are so all over the place, we don’t stick to a specific chore schedule. Instead, the kids have their responsibilities – clothing, bed making, and taking care of their belongings – and then they chip in when we ask and are usually good sports about it. We also try to make tasks they can do themselves really accessible, such as storing breakfast cereal in apothecary jars on the kitchen counter and adding shoe bins close to the entry.
Q: What do you hope your kids remember most from their childhood home?
A: I love this question, but have no idea how to make it not sound cheesy! Here goes!
I hope they remember the fun and laughter that was made in our home. Also, I hope they remember how valued and involved they were in our home, from cooking and cleaning to helping younger siblings or Mom and Dad with projects. And because I’m a crafter/ designer/sewer, I really hope they remember all the handmade items!
Q: Please finish the sentence: I wish I had known…
A: Two things…
I wish I had known to trust in God’s timing more. I tend to jump the gun a little (ok, a lot!) and in doing so miss out on sweet life moments. Like when I was a single mom or when we started ARMOMMY five years ago and I was determined to make it amazing overnight, or the period of time in my marriage when money was scary tight. It’s all about timing, and His is way better than mine.
I also wish I would have known that making something special does not mean making it perfect. Life is all about the outtakes!
I told you, didn’t I? Happy. Thank you so much, Rae, for sharing your space with us! And I know my readers are going to find themselves lost in the loveliest way on ARMOMMY! So many brilliant ideas and inspiration.
Friends, Rae was pretty adamant (bossy, really!) about repainting your outdated kitchen cabinets. Have you ever? It’s one of those daunting DIY projects that scares us all, but I think Rae is exactly right: the reward is worth it. I’d love to hear your cabinet renovation experiences and worries. Who knows? Maybe we can start a little painting revolution!
Gorgeous photos by Stacy Jacobsen.