Jane Rhodes is the best kind of blogger; she knows how to transform blah into brilliant, turn an average ho-hum day into an event to be remembered, and lots of other lovely-life-making tricks that cause you to slap your forehead and say “Of course!” Even better? She shares everything she knows with the rest of us. Happily and whole-heartedly. I wasn’t surprised at all to learn that she loves entertaining: the old-school dinner party, specifically. I imagine it’s like everything else in her life: a gift she can give to others. Friends, please meet Jane and her sweet family.
Q: Tell us about the family who lives here.
A: I’m sometimes Jane, sometimes Franny. Confused? You should be. A friendly battle of wits about what I was to be named left me unsure of my real name. But, despite any uncertainties, I am sure of this: I love art and design in all forms. I’m a wife, mother, blogger, stylist, graphic and interior designer. Anything that begs for beauty. And I love yoga and good food…and those may or may not be in order of preference.
The kids. There are four kids.
Kiana, our 14-year-old fashionista, is about to launch her own style blog. So exciting! Like most modern teens, she surrounds herself with friends and fun, and we swear that tearing her iPhone from her would be like tearing off an arm. But luckily she’s wildly creative, intelligent, and happily busy, so we overlook her hours spent texting and watching The Kardashians. It’s all about balance, right? Right?
Myla, 12, is our tennis-obsessed tomboy who knows she’s “going to make us all rich one day” winning Grand Slams. She’s equally passionate and sensitive, creative, and athletic. She thinks we need a dog. Need. Double fault on that one.
KJ is our nine-year-old tech prodigy Cub Scout. He has to have inherited some sort of Red Sox fan gene from his Papi, though he’s warming to the crazy competitive sport of dodgeball. Yeah, dodgeball. It’s a big deal here. He even goes with his buds to a dodgeball class. He’s the left-brainer fighting for time in a house full of right-brainers, and he’s holding his own like a champ.
Six-year-old Sela is our little raven-haired caboose. She is sweet and confident (read: strong-willed). She loves stripes and doing her own creative projects. I’m amazed at how this little bug is so packed with creativity. She’s my little shadow and always within five feet of me. Even when I’m working; she’s also got her own work desk.
The grown-ups. There are two grown-ups.
Big Papi, also known as my husband Dusty, and I met in college. Dancer and football star meet and fall in love, and then dancer and football star marry. He’s even better looking than when I met him. The best dad. Has always loved sports, and turned that love into his career by starting up a team sportswear company. Because he’s often in Asia, our family time is sacrosanct.
This is one of the biggest reasons I’m devoted to making our house a space that reflects us. Not overdone, not pristine, not sterile. Just us. A home that feels like it has been created over time. Filled with things we love, regardless of era or style or price. The kind of home you’d walk into and think to yourself “I like these people.”
Q: How did this house become your own? What was the moment you fell in love with it and knew you wanted to stay?
A: From around 1998 to 2010 we had been in and out of Utah. We had spent more than a decade talking about wanting to live back East around history, diversity, culture, and, most notably, the Red Sox. The recession motivated us enough to sell our home and live anywhere we wanted. We could make the choice. We finally just did it.
So in 2011 we moved to Boston for one year. We suddenly found ourselves embedded in a community. Life here is slower, older, more traditional. I adore classic hosting and am happy to report that the classic dinner party is alive and thriving. Shops close at 6:00 p.m. so that families can be home together, everyone waves as you drive or jog around town. It’s the Norman Rockwell charm of New England with the city at your fingertips. One year. Yeah, right.
We first rented a home very different from the one we’re in now. Part of our Boston Adventure has been having two new canvases to work with, which has been a dream for me. We’ve owned before, but this phase of our life has let me focus on the principle that you don’t have to own a house to create a home.
How did this house become ours? I’ve learned in a city it works like this: you look for a home, you make a list of your favorite options, and you apply for those, and start checking off that list till you get one! It’s a housing battlefield! I fell in love with this house because of its location; we live right next to our kids’ elementary school. And! It’s wall-to-wall hardwood floors. Yes, this is to be expected in most New England homes. But being a girl from the West, I don’t think I will ever go back to carpet!
Q: How would you describe your aesthetic? What’s the one room in your home that is so totally you? How so?
A: I adore a clean, minimalistic, modern space, and I do strive for that in most of my life. However, I like to be balanced with just enough clutter or pieces that feel enough out of place that the home feels lived-in.
The one room in our home that is totally me is my art room and office. Almost every piece of furniture is white. The walls are white. Only artwork our family has created hang on the walls. It’s impossible for me to keep the room picked up and tidy because our creative messes are endless! Either myself or one of my kiddos are always making something. In fact, it’s common for us to have projects going on in every room of the house! This mix of clean lines and life are my favorite.
Q: What has been your best decor idea that everyone seems to love?
A: This isn’t my idea. But we have had a collection of chalkboard walls now between our last three homes. Each one designed very different. I love hearing people say, “Hey! We painted a chalkboard wall because we were inspired by you!” I love the daily creativity that comes in the form of chalk!
Q: What do you hope people feel when they walk in to your home?
A: I hope guests feel comfortable. I hope the company is good, the conversation is interesting, and the food divine. I want you to forget what you planned on doing and staying because you feel at ease. I hope my home allows you to be yourself whenever you visit.
Q: When does your home work best?
A: My home works best when it’s organized. Though I love spontaneity as much as the next guy, our family needs order to thrive amidst the high volume of activity that comes with four busy children and a busy CEO husband, not to mention my own life. Franklin Covey calendar and iPhone, I’m looking at you.
I believe that order provides space for creativity, both mentally and in actual physical space, and it’s in that atmosphere that our home thrives.
Q: How do you truly live with kids?
A: While I take the reins on the design in our home, I want each of my kids’ spaces to reflect their individuality. I love their input and figuring out how we can work together to help their rooms reflect and encourage who they are truly.
Messes? This is much easier now that my kids are getting older. With each year we own less toys. Hallelujah! I will proudly tell you I am a neat freak. I am pretty crazy about cleaning up.
However, if you come to our home in the middle of a big project, you will be shocked at what I allow to take place. There might be dirt — literally! — all over the dining room table. If we are creating, it is beautiful chaos in my eyes.
My top tips for living with kids well? If you don’t have a place for it, it’s time to clean out the closets and live with less!
Q: You’ve got a lovely blog! What’s your philosophy behind it and your hopes for it? Does it have a big impact on your life?
A: Thank you. It’s definitely a passion project; I love what I do. Thinking in terms of blogging really helps me live a more beautiful and conscientious life.
Most of my projects overlap. I make this happen. For example, if it’s Valentine’s Day and my youngest daughter and I are going to create homemade cards, we make plans for what we want to do, we get the supplies, we stretch out on the art room floor to create, I take pictures of the project, my kids go to bed, and I blog about the homemade Valentine’s.
Much of my life follows this pattern. Designating certain spaces for certain purposes helps me segment my responsibilities. Our home includes our work spaces, a reading nook, the family room. You can feel the vibe of each space, you know?
Blogging and art have a huge impact on my life, and I can’t say enough positive words about the community I’ve come to be a part of. My hopes are to continue what I’ve been doing while making a living doing so. I have always said “There is life. There is art. And in between is my journey.”
Q: What is your favorite part of living with your own kids? What do you already miss?
We tend to be a family that chooses to hang out with each other a lot, especially since we’ve been moving. I love finding us all in a room on a weekend evening hanging out together no matter what we are doing, or seeing my kids peacefully playing together. This never gets old.
My daughters all have a creative theme going on, and this makes my heart glow. I hope as they all grow up they still share these passions with me, so I’ll have three daughters to create with. And a tech son to create the perfect creative-cocktail!
I already miss the years when all my kids were just a bit younger. When I was a constant rock star in their eyes. I’m trying to adjust to the teenage years, ay yi yi…
Q: What are you trying to teach your kids with the design and style that surrounds them on a daily basis?
A: I try to honor their individuality while teaching them the beauty of family life. Their rooms are individualized while fitting into the overall design of our home. I hope they learn that they are their own person, but they are also part of a family.
Q: What do you hope your kids remember most about their childhood home when they’re all grown up with families of their own?
A: While we are very into our own family time, we love to party. You’ll see that much of my blog is devoted to parties and celebrations, both large and everyday-sized. Every day can be unique. I hope my kids grow up remembering that we put family first, and that life is meant to be happy and beautiful. Their life is a canvas waiting to be painted.
Q: Please finish the sentence: I wish I had known…
A: …how often I would want to change and update the decor of our home! Also, I wish I had fallen in love with flea markets and antique shops long before I did. The combination of these would have saved me a lot of money over the years.
At the end of the day, it has always been important to me that people feel welcome in our home at all times, not what is in our home.
Thank you, Jane, for adding your beauty to our day! I’m putting a few of your fresh design ideas into my pocket for later use in a later home, but I love this for right this very minute: “I try to honor their individuality while teaching them the beauty of family life. Their rooms are individualized while fitting into the overall design of our home. I hope they learn that they are their own person, but they are also part of a family.” I adore how you phrased this concept. So hard to do with bigger families or shared rooms sometimes, but so worth it when it works, right?