Living With Kids: Kendra Damiecki

June 18, 2013

By Gabrielle.

Be prepared. This house is cute. Filled with sweet collections, cheery fabric inspiration, kid-crafty happiness in every corner, and a soft place to land on no matter where you may fall. I’d say it’s the perfect spot for two little girls to grow up. And I sure hope you agree! Friends, I’m pleased to introduce the Damiecki family to you. You’re going to love what Kendra has to share!

Q: Please tell us who makes this colorful house a home!

A: I live in Darnestown, Maryland with my husband Scott and our daughters Layla (4) and Hadley (2). We moved into this house just after Layla turned two and Hadley was a month old, so it’s the only home they have ever known. When I began the process of decorating I wanted to make sure it was a place they would always look forward to coming home to whether it was from preschool, college, or with their own children someday. I still have that feeling when we visit my parents.

Scott is a deal-oriented CPA and I am a stay at home Mom dabbling in interior design and blogging who is a bit more of a free spirit. So where he tends to be a planner and thinker, I’m more of a spur-of-the-moment doer. We balance each other out well, and I think our daughters get the best of both worlds.

Q: How did the home come to be yours?

A: When we bought this house two years ago, it was a really crazy time for us. I was eight months pregnant and our condo had sold faster than we anticipated. We had been searching for the perfect house for months and kept coming up empty. It started to feel like were running out of time! Being so close to giving birth, my hormones and anxiety levels were rising. I was in full-blown nesting mode, but instead of putting together a nursery for my new baby girl, I was packing to move into a short term lease. It was a nightmare. I had just about given up on finding our forever home. Then we went to see what would soon be our new home the very day it was listed, and something just clicked for us. We made an offer that night, which was accepted the following day.

The house needed a lot of updating, especially the kitchen and bathrooms, but we saw that it had the potential to be the house of our dreams…with some reconfiguring and a lot of paint! Ultimately, it was the backyard that sold us. We live on almost an acre and a half of land with a natural tree line fence surrounding the backyard. My husband I both grew up with big grassy yards to run around in, so it was really important to us that Layla and Hadley had that as well.

We also live in an area where families of deer munch on our grass, rabbits chase each other, and neighbors own chickens that sometimes visit our yard looking for food. On most days (especially the ones waking up to a rooster crowing!) it feels like we live out in the country when we are actually only 30 minutes outside of DC.

Q: How would you describe your aesthetic? In what ways did it change when you added kids to the mix?

A: I love anything vintage. Owning something with a history that you don’t see everyday and everywhere makes me giddy. But I also love simple, clean lines when it comes to furniture and fixtures. Those details, blended with something unexpected like a crazy colorful piece of art or a boldly patterned curtain or rug, is what makes our house ours. So I guess my aesthetic is quirky cozy vintage modern – wow, that’s a mouthful!

I think the only change I’ve made since having kids is the fabrics and colors I picked for our couches. I would love to have gorgeous crisp white couches, but it’s just not practical for us. I want to snuggle with my girls and not worry about dirty hands or a rogue crayon. So sticking with darker, more forgiving colors and fabrics for the furniture we use on a daily basis makes life easier. And having darker fabrics that need brightening gives me an excuse to indulge in my pillow addiction!

Q: Do you consciously decorate a room with your kids in mind?

A: My biggest goal when decorating our home is to make it comfortable and welcoming, which means that nothing is off limits to the girls. If they can reach it, they can play with it. Nothing within their reach is too precious or delicate. Anything that is breakable or not made for curious little hands is put up on a higher shelf. I want Layla and Hadley to be able to discover and enjoy everything in our house, and telling them not to touch something just doesn’t seem right.

Whenever I begin decorating a room, I do think about how the girls will use it. With the family room, I added storage baskets for their toys so they could be easily taken out and just as easily hidden away. I keep a pair of binoculars and bird books by the sliding doors, and piles of fabric in the corner so they can have picnics or make forts. I know they won’t be little girls forever so I want to embrace their curiosity and creativity whenever and wherever I can.

I have also made an effort to keep the decor in our house bright, happy, and handmade as much as possible. I love to make things and am constantly inspired by sites like Pinterest and so many talented bloggers out there. I want to surround us all with touches of whimsy and silliness ,and think there is nothing weird about having a vintage fire truck in the kitchen or a funny face paper lantern hanging in our entryway. Designing and decorating is a passion of mine and I have so much fun doing it. I think that definitely comes though when you walk around our house.

Q: You seem to be a collector! How do you edit what is on your shelves and walls?

A: I began collecting milk glass and white pottery a few years ago. My collection started with a few pieces handed down from my mom, and in a short time it has grown to about 30 pieces. I love to hunt for items at yard sales and thrift shops. Only vintage finds make it into my collection, which is helping it not get too out of control! I’m excited that I’ll have a collection to hand down to the girls – should they want it – because they have participated in creating it with me.

The items I hang on our walls or display on shelves are things that I truly love or have a special meaning to our family – usually both! I don’t ever decorate with things just to fill space; I’d rather have a blank wall or an empty shelf than fill it was something generic. I also have learned to take my time and think about things before I pull the trigger and buy something. More often than not, I change my mind and it saves me a lot of time and effort.

Q: Speaking of collecting, how do you handle clean-up and chores?

A: Since Layla and Hadley have free reign in the house, it makes for lots of stuff being out all over, all at once. So together, we have decided that they can’t start a new craft or play in basement playroom until crayons, toys, or tutus are all put away. This system works well for us because they know they won’t get to play kitchen unless all of the puzzle pieces are in the box. I try making a game out of it too, by starting a countdown or timing them; they love that, and it also gets things picked up a bit faster!

As far as chores, Layla is a big helper. She’ll put her clothes on hangers or set the table for dinner. And Hadley loves to put the utensils away when I’m unloading the dishwasher. I think anything can sound like fun if you say it with enthusiasm, so when I ask “Who wants to see how many weeds we can pull before Daddy gets home!” in my best game show host voice, I have a weed-free walkway within minutes.

Q: What do you hope your decor choices and the items that surround your family are teaching them about you and their someday ideas about family?

A: I think a part of making our home homier is filling it with things we love. I am slightly obsessed with the girls’ artwork, and I don’t think there is a room in our house that doesn’t have a picture they painted or a craft they made. I try to keep the rooms they spend the most of time in stocked with art, crafts, or pretend play supplies so that they can be as creative as they like if the mood strikes them.

And it’s fine with me if they draw on the windows with crayons or rip up paper and throw it like confetti…because the look of joy on my Layla’s face when she draws a whale or makes her sister giggle with a sock puppet is worth every second it takes me to vacuum the floor or wipe down the glass. Sometimes the messes make the best memories.

Q: What is your favorite room in the house to spend time with your kids?

A: This is hard one, but I would have to say that Layla’s bedroom is where I feel the most at peace and happiest. Her room is painted a warm pink color that is very different from the cool tones throughout the rest of our house. When we’re all in there after baths, just as the sun is just going down, it almost glows.

Once pajamas are on and teeth are brushed, we’ll either play dress up, practice magic tricks, or take turns reading books. But my favorite thing to do in her room is to make a big fluffy pillow pile on the floor, turn off all the lights, and lie down. Layla received a rainbow machine for her birthday, and we’ll turn that on and watch the bands of color take over the ceiling. It’s nice after the chaos of a busy day to just enjoy silence with them.

Q: What has been your favorite part about living with your own kids?

A: I am constantly amazed and delighted by how well my girls play together. My little Hadley wants to do everything her big sister does, and I’ve been really impressed seeing how patient and gentle Layla has been with her. I watch them being kind, considerate, giggly sisters, and it makes my heart happy.

I’m surprised at how much I love watching them grow into little independent people. A part of me mourns their babyhood and misses those gummy baby smiles and chest to chest naps. But another part of me is really proud of the girls they are growing into, and I can’t wait to see what the next few years bring.

Q: Please finish the sentence: I wish I had known…

A:  …that comparison is the thief of joy. I remember hearing this and thinking how true this was for me – not just with my kids but with other parts of my life as well.

I spent a good part of those first two years with Layla comparing her milestones to my friends’ children. Instead of enjoying what she was doing, I worried about what she wasn’t doing. My attitude completely changed when Hadley was born, and I no longer allowed myself to have expectations on when she would start talking, walking, or potty training. I feel more comfortable and am much more confident now as a mother that I can just sit back and enjoy each little moment as they come.

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See? This is the part about these tours that I love. Had we only seen the photos of Kendra’s home without her words, we might have thought “Well. She has it all together.” And maybe the tour caught us at an off moment where our confidence levels were low and when we were thinking “Well. I do not have it all together.” But with just one thought from another mom, we’re built back up again, right? We are all in this together, Friends. Thank you, Kendra, for reminding us about that nasty little thief named comparison!

Have you ever fallen into that comparison trap? What pulled you out? And how do you keep track of – and happy about! – your family’s milestones without measuring them with others?

P.S. — Take a peek at all the homes in my Living With Kids series here. And if you’d like to share your own home with us, just send me a note! It’s a lot of fun…I promise!

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Elizabeth June 18, 2013 at 10:23 am

Love! Where are the following things from the: The Let’s Go Home Already poster, the NICE letters, the Hadley art above the crib, the sign above the map, the colorful leaf art in Layla’s room? And what is the name of the wall paint in Layla’s room? Thanks!

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2 Kathy Polo June 18, 2013 at 10:47 am

This post exemplifies what it means to make a house a home! It’s so sweet!! Makes you look forward to coming home after a long work day.

Thank you for sharing this!!

>>>> Madebygirl.blogspot.com
>>>> MadeByGirl.com

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3 Robyn June 18, 2013 at 11:45 am

I love the colors, the furniture, the fabrics…and the quote about comparison! That rings true for me. We just bought our first house, and your home is a lot like what I hope it will become! I see some IKEA furniture in the house, which I love, and I’m curious where the two beige sofas are from. I’m on the hunt for kid-friendly neutral sofas. Thanks!

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4 Melissa L. June 18, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Love the stuff, the colors, etc. House seems HUGE to me!

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5 Christy@SweetandSavoring June 18, 2013 at 1:15 pm

I love that stripe-blocked rug under the dining room table- and the huge world map is sweet! It looks nice next to the chalkboard wall, which although is way trendy/popular, I still like it :)

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6 Sharon @ Discovering Blog June 18, 2013 at 1:20 pm

I am a big fan of this series, but I feel like this one might be my favorite. I’m not sure if it’s the pink walls (“warm” pink – what a wonderful way to describe the color!) or the little pictures hanging in clusters, or the sweet balloons on the wall with the little person hanging from each, or the idea of a rainbow machine (WHERE DO I GET ONE??) or just her honest, simple answers.

I understand how comparison can be such a thief, and as my oldest starts to become more involved (and obsessed with) sports, I dread the years that will be coming and the conflicts we will face as we navigate these waters of parents and kids and sports and expectations.

Kendra, thank you for letting us in to your home!

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7 Brandy@The Prudent Homemaker June 18, 2013 at 2:39 pm

I noticed a few of my favorite: a piece of embroidery (the girl swinging from the cherry tree has been on my Etsy favorites list for a long time (one day I’ll buy it and stitch it!), and the Sarah Jane fabrics. I love that you have SO MUCH artwork framed that your children have done. My dad is a picture framer and he loves framing children’s artwork.

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8 Susan June 18, 2013 at 3:11 pm

When my daughter left for college I made her a sign that read, “Compare and Despair” to remind her of what happens when you do compare yourself to others. The issue is I know what a mess I REALLY am (all my inner ugly little faults) but I can only see how pulled together, confident and seemingly perfect others are on the outside. I’m always going to come up short if I compare my messy insides to someone else’s fairly polished outsides – and who wants to live that way. Enjoy others’ creativity, good looks, stylish homes and adorable children – but never, ever use those things to measure your happiness!

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9 Melissa@Julia's Bookbag June 19, 2013 at 9:00 am

compare and despair…..LOVE that, Susan!

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10 Terri June 18, 2013 at 5:37 pm

I can’t stop looking at these photos. Beautiful, cheerful and happy. I love her style. Thanks so much for sharing.

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11 Kendra June 18, 2013 at 6:35 pm

Oh you guys…all your sweet comments about our house just made my day (week!) thank you for being so nice!
Elizabeth: I made the Lets Go Home piece out of a large painter’s canvas that I painted then covered with a white bed sheet I had cut the words out of and then stretched and stapled it, I followed a similar process with the art over Hadley’s crib using fabric from Sarah Jane’s Children at Play line. The NICE letters are from Joann Fabrics spray painted white. I also made the art in Layla’s room (inspired by one of Orla Kiely’s popular patterns) using colored paper, mod podge and kraft packing tape. The pink paint in Layla’s room is Pink Swirl by Benjamin Moore.

Robyn – the living sofas are actually two parts of a sectional we just separated a bit to adjust to the odd bump out in the corner: ) It’s from Haverty’s. And yes we have lots of Ikea pieces too!

Sharon – the rainbow machine is just magical – my girls love it! ours is from here: http://tinyurl.com/mdblsna

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12 jessica brown June 18, 2013 at 6:37 pm

Beautiful!

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13 Jacqueline June 18, 2013 at 9:29 pm

There are some brilliant ideas shared in this home tour! Thank you so much for sharing your creativity with us Kendra.

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14 kalanicut June 18, 2013 at 10:05 pm

I loved this line: Sometimes the messes make the best memories. So true. I love these tours every week. I have to really concentrate on the words and then go back and look at the photos several times to really take it all in an fully appreciate everything that is said and seen. I appreciate the visual inspiration and even more the life lessons. Thank you ladies!

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15 Angela DeMuro June 19, 2013 at 7:40 am

Love love your home! So fun and cheery! And I adore all the bunting and garland! I just went to your Etsy store…LOVE! Thanks for the tour:)

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16 Elise June 19, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Thank you for sharing! Love all the collections and colors. Your children will certainly always love coming home!

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17 Wendy June 19, 2013 at 6:44 pm

I need to know where the curtains are from! I love them all!!

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18 Kendra June 19, 2013 at 7:15 pm

Hi Wendy!
Let’s see…the curtains in the front living room and dining room are actually tablecloths from the DwellStudio for Target line as are the curtains in the family room – I don’t think these are available online anymore…but you might luck out finding them on eBay! My super talented mom made the curtains in both of the girls rooms – the fabric in Hadley’s is Waverly Wonderama Flamingo and the fabric in Layla’s room is Valori Wells Nest Fabric in Scarlet. Hope this helps!!

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19 Anna-Katrin June 19, 2013 at 9:52 pm

What a fabulous home! Kendra, can you tell me where the dining room rug is from? Is is Flor tiles or one big area rug? We just finished building a new dining table and now our little old rug looks so silly. I’d love to use something like this one!

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20 Kendra June 20, 2013 at 7:55 am

Hi Anna-Katrin! Yes we used Flor tiles in Shiny Happy Stripe (gold cream) under the table – I wanted something bold and big but not expensive and these were perfect!

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21 Jen June 20, 2013 at 8:09 am

This house is amazing! So homey and lived in, but still clean, modern & trendy!!

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22 Christi June 21, 2013 at 4:40 am

Kendra… I LOVE how 3-dimensional your home is! Every color and detail makes me feel happy and inspired… I feel like I could never ask you enough questions and want to know every paint color! :).

Did you make the girl hanging from the balloon wall mural? I would love this for my girls’ bedroom.

I am over the moon inspired to add more dimension to our home… in addition to the 35 pompoms hanging in our entry and dining room (hung for one of our daughter’s first birthday and have been here ever since)….

And I completely agree with your philosophy about making a mess! It is a child’s bliss and makes my heart overflow… And couldn’t be more thankful for the invention of the Dust Buster. :)

Thank you so much for sharing!

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23 Kendra June 21, 2013 at 6:51 am

Hi Christi! Thank you so much! Sometimes our birthday/party decorations stay up as part of our everyday decor too! And I could not live without our dust buster!!
Yes, I made the balloons in Hadley’s room by stretching fabric (Sarah Jane’s Children at Play) into wooden embroidery hoops. Then I just tied a piece of thread to the bottom of each hoop and taped the bunnies and girls onto the thread. I drew those to mimic the characters in the fabric:)
Hope this helps!!

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24 Jody June 21, 2013 at 9:42 am

Love this home – very real, very fun!!!

Thanks for posting a home that I can get inspiration from!!

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25 Barchbo June 21, 2013 at 3:34 pm

What a wonderful home! I love it. “Comparison is the thief of joy” – amen to that!

Kendra, does your CPA husband leave the design decisions to you, or does he like to weigh in on things? We have a similar balance in our home and my deal-oriented attorney husband doesn’t always “lean in” to my free spirit! :)

Thanks for sharing this home!

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26 Kendra June 24, 2013 at 1:53 pm

Thank you! Yes, just like the kiddos have free reign on the the things in our house I pretty much have free reign when it comes to putting them there, or painting them, or cutting them down (bushes, trees…I am dangerous with pruning shears!) Scott never knows what he is going to come home to and sometimes doesn’t notice the things I have done for days – we had a BRIGHT YELLOW front door for a full three days before he said something: ) So while I’m not tearing down walls or rewiring anything – I do almost everything else – before he gets home…which makes it that much easier!

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