It makes perfect sense that a landscape designer would grow an enviable outdoor paradise, but did you ever wonder how a skill like that would translate to interior decorating? I hope you have! Friends, I’m happy to share Rochelle Greayer‘s home with you. Please be prepared for some verdant goodness, indoors and out. There’s a definite secret garden vibe happening in this home: twinkly lights, firmly-rooted collections, and not a weed in sight — unless you count the Lego city that took two weeks to build on the dining room table! Enjoy the tour.
Q: Who’s lucky enough to grow in this home?
A: Rob, Rochelle, our nine year old daughter Meredith, and our six year old son Isaac. There’s also Lyle the Cat who is 14, and Earvin Zippance Greayer, also known as Zippy the Puppy, who is 12 weeks old and just arrived in our home a few weeks ago.
Also, we have nine chickens: our rooster, Precious, Bones, Mutmee, Whitey, Chippy, Glinda, Scoob, Dooby, and Daphne. Add two turkeys called Tank and Chrissy — short for Thanksgiving and Christmas, which was my husband’s idea, but they were pardoned by me two years ago and have remained with us ever since!
Q: How did this house become your home?
A: We were moving from London back the United States, and we had made the decision that we were either going to remain city people or go completely rural; we wanted to go all in with whichever choice we were about to make, and we weren’t interested in the middle-ground suburban thing. We ultimately landed rural in Boston after briefly considering NYC.
We didn’t have any preconceived notions of the Boston area, which is very town-focused compared to where my husband and I are from (LA and Denver), and we feel so lucky to have landed where we did. Whereas most people around here pick our town and location because of the interesting, highly-educated people who live here, the landscape, and the excellent school system, we picked our house first. It just happened to be in Harvard, which we later learned was pretty great!
As a landscape designer, I had a strong sense of how I wanted to feel when I approached the house. It needed to sit right on the land, and I am very sure I frustrated our realtor when I eliminated perfectly good house options without even going inside because I could tell from the road I wouldn’t be content in the house. Our house is on a long drive. It has a charming barn that you can see from the road, and the house hugs the land, following the topography of the prominent rock formations. When houses are built to sit on the land rather than the land radically altered to make way for the house, you end up with something a lot more quirky and charming, and that is what made us love this place immediately. I later learned at a neighborhood party that the rocks that we sit atop are very special; so special that a small team of seismologists associated with Harvard University live nearby to study them. Apparently the rocks are part of a formation that extends very deep into the center of the earth, and there is only one other place like on the planet.
Q: How would you describe your design style? Has it changed at all since you’ve added kids to your life?
A: I love to travel, thrift, and transform things. My favorite things are rarely expensive and usually have a good story in their acquisition. My house reflects the need for me to find pretty homes for all my adopted treasures. Kids didn’t seem to change anything except to give me two more bedrooms to have in some state of constant project.
Q: What have you let go in terms of style needs and what have you full-on embraced?
A: I have let go of a need to have things finished and done, although admittedly not having things finished and done does cause me stress. Not that I wouldn’t love to have the house and all our projects and wish list items crossed off, but finances and creativity seem to get in the way. If I had the money to make something happen immediately, then I would have all sorts of time to sit back and enjoy it, but I don’t so everything is a project that is constantly being worked on; I do a lot of DIY. But then the other problem steps in: creativity! Since nothing gets done fast and I always have new ideas, the plan just constantly evolves, for better or for worse!
Q: I love that you believe in twinkly lights! What are the top three things that make your home a home to you?
A: I have had a feather mattress or two on top of my regular mattress since my aunt gave me one in college. It is super cozy and makes my bed so uniquely comfortable and homey. I need the greenery of plants to warm up a place, and pictures of my family. Can I have one more? A really well stocked spice rack…
Q: Your home seems so collected over time!
A: Yes! As I said, everything in our home has a story or a memory attached. Two of our rugs were bought in Turkey and each holds its own stories of bazaars, tea, and interesting people. Our photos, many of which were taken when Meredith was two or younger, are from all over the world.
When we lived in London, we took the opportunity to travel a lot and she came with us. We have pictures of her little baby-self enjoying so many famous places! And when we left London, we took two months to come home. We packed up our stuff, quit our jobs, and traveled for eight weeks. It was such a great trip, but one that I can’t imagine we would do today even though I wish I could! We had no fear of not being able to get jobs right away when we got back and pick right up with life where we left off.
Q: What’s your favorite room in the house?
A: My living room when we have a fire going….otherwise, the kitchen.
Q: What’s your philosophy on living with kids?
A: We are free flow. I tend to have an internal snap clock on messes, though. We don’t have a playroom, so toys are either in their bedrooms or in a common area where we all live. It can sometimes push me to my limits! Recently, Meredith and Isaac built a Lego city that took nearly two weeks on the dining room table. I was fine with it and very happy for them to be so constructively entertained, until suddenly I wasn’t! I think it is okay to loan out spaces for a little while to the kids, but then sometimes parents need to reclaim spaces back for themselves. In reality, reclaiming the space in question meant that I am simply back to folding laundry on the dining room table!
For their bedrooms I mostly did the decor — especially in Isaac’s room which I decorated very deliberately when he was a baby. Meredith wants to have more input, so her room continues to evolve in a way that Isaac’s doesn’t.
Q: In a home this complete, this lovingly curated and collected, how do you add pieces or make major changes? How do you keep it inspired?
A: I constantly rearrange, and it totally annoys my husband. I really enjoy mixing things up, though. Also, our needs change and so many things in our home are makeshift solutions, so I constantly see things that need upgrading. For example, we are looking for a used piano for the kids to practice on, but that means we need to find a place for it, which means that the living room has to be rearranged! And I am thinking that I should buy some more bookcases as part of the rearranging because we have so many books in boxes in the attic, and the table that the television is on came from the previous owners and it’s broken, so maybe that should be replaced with something, and while I have everything torn up I might as well change the color of the walls to match my idea for what the re-upholstered sofas will someday look like! You see? I live like the mouse from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie! If the family needs a piano, then is it likely they will re-upholster the sofas…
Q: Tell us about your outdoor space! And what is that sculpture by the chairs?
A: The piece by the chairs is my design and was built be a blacksmith friend who I work with for garden design projects. It is a Corten steel fireplace/ grill/ sculpture, and it was a Father’s Day gift to my husband a couple of years ago. We like to sit our there with drinks at the end of an evening around a fire.
There is a deck that we are in the process of building that will step out from our house and connect to that sitting area. I hope that it gets finished this summer. Otherwise our garden is my obsession. It is also my test lab for my work and writing, and the back-drop to many a photo shoot for the magazine I launched last fall.
We have completely transformed the land we live on over the last seven years. We’ve cleared woods, built a tree house, a chicken coop, the circle patio, a huge garden with raised beds, lots of planting beds, and this year I just planted five fruit trees in addition to an existing four to round out a family orchard. Next up, we are going to plant lots of grapes across a recently cleared hillside with the help of a team of family friends. We’re starting a little Grape Co-op; everyone chips in on the cost of the plants and the labor to plant them. We will take care of them, and when it comes to harvest time we’ll all pitch in and bring in the shared harvest. I got the idea from a convent in our town. The nuns grow vegetables to sell at our farmer’s market that I started with a few of the same friends, but they also have a huge plot of grapes that an older nun planted years ago so that they could make their own wine. We have helped them harvest for many years now and it is great fun. If we have enough, we can have a stomping party!
Q: Please finish the sentence: If I could do it all over again, I would…
A: This is hard because I never think like that! Maybe I would have possibly not let my husband talk us into the two turkeys! They are a little random, but they do lay cool eggs every other day or so.
Thank you, Rochelle! I’m simply enamored with the life your family is growing — especially the Grape Co-op. Make sure to send out invitations to all of us for the inaugural stomping! And your comparison of your never-ending decor plans to If You Give a Mouse a Cookie made me laugh out loud! It’s so true, isn’t it? Make one beautiful change in your home and instantly feel the need to change ten other things, as well.
Friends, do you ever feel the need to reclaim spaces in your home that you’ve handed over to your kids?