Friday, February 15, 2008

Seven Questions...Making a Haven

Just imagine for a moment that you are a somewhat homely child with stick straight hair. When you are five years old, your mother brings a little sister home from the hospital. Even as a newborn, she has been dubbed the "pretty one" and you instantly recognize why. She has inherited your mother's adorable features and a headful (oh, the bitter irony!) of your father's natural curls.

As she grows, this little sister outshines you in every way. She is smarter, gets better grades.
She is popular, has more boyfriends. She plays violin, guitar and the mandolin...and even beats you at the piano with far fewer lessons.

She does all the things you wish you had done. Like run for office in high school (and win). Like serve a mission for your church. Like marry a guy who has finished his bachelor's and master's degrees. Like get pregnant (the old-fashioned way) and give birth to three adorable, well-behaved, brilliant daughters--some with (twist the knife) curly hair!

She grows up to be a fabulous woman, an adorable mother and adored wife. Her house is warm and lovely. Somehow she has learned to sew and quilt in her spare time. And everything surrounding her seems to glow with a touch of class.

You'd hate her guts, wouldn't ya?

Of course you would.

Unless...she was Amy.
Meet my fabulous little sis! She really can do it all, yet, she is so sweet and sincere and childlike that you just cannot help but love her. I can honestly say, I've never been jealous of her success... just proud of her achievements because she is such a humble person. I love her to pieces.

Amy has so many talents, I could interview her on almost any subject. But I am fascinated with her ability to create a lovely and liveable home. She and her wonderful hubby Scott host us whenever we come to town for a visit. I am always amazed at how relaxed and comfortable it is there, and still so beautiful.

Here are Amy's thoughts on creating a lovely living space:

1. What is your biggest decorating secret?

Invest in classic, neutral furniture and then add color and pattern with accessories and less expensive pieces.

2. You have a great knowledge and love for fine art. How does this influence your home decor?

I take that as a huge compliment. I love art. First of all, I believe that abstract and traditional art can work on the wall together as long as you have some sort of theme. They could be similar in color, have a similar frame, etc. I also take methods used in art to decorate my home. I like to create "triangles" with my accessories. Groups of three are always pleasing to the eye. I also like to play with symmetry. I love a sense of balance on my bookshelves, however a little asymmetry gives interest to a grouping. Color is what I love most about fine art and interior design. It's fun to take my favorite colors and splash them throughout my house. Right now my favorite color scheme is red, green and yellow. 3. Give us five budget-friendly ways to add beauty and comfort to a room.

1. Switch around your wall hangings. Putting something old in a new place makes you see it differently and changes the look of a room without spending a dime.
2. Use durable materials like leather and micro-fiber, as well as flooring that hides stuff well. That way you can relax while in the room.
3. Add natural materials to bring the outdoors in. For example, choose earth tones for your walls, use rocks on a fireplace or even in an apothecary jar.
4. Use what you already have. Try giving new life to an old rocking chair in your newborn's bedroom. Use that old steamer chest as a side table.
5. Use a dark color here and there to give your room weight. I like to use black, but any dark neutral would do.

4. How do you create beautiful living space and still keep it kid-friendly?

Like I said before using durable and child friendly materials will always give you peace of mind. Something that I like to do is buy most of my furniture used. I saw some beautiful dining tables at the furniture store one day, but I couldn't get myself to purchase any of them because I knew once I brought it home it would be dented or colored on by one of my three children. Buying from the classified ads saved me a lot of money and also peace of mind. The most important thing is to be patient with your time of life. Keep breakables high up, have a minimal amount of pillows on beds and couches (because you know they'll end up on the floor again), and realize that you don't live in a model home (people actually live there, so of course they are going to leave their shoes lying around the house). The time will come when you can decorate just like the magazines, but by then you'll miss the hand prints on the glass.

5. Speaking of magazines, do you have any favorite ones? Or catalogs or decorating shows that inspire you?

I enjoy my HGTV, Fine Living and Discovery Home networks. I think Candice Olsen on Divine Design does a great job to explain her designing. Design Inc. is fun to watch because most of the time budgeting is out the window. However, to help me decorate my own spaces realistically I like to see what they do on Design to Sell. I'm addicted to "before and after" shows.
I pore over Pottery Barn and the Company Store catalogs when they come in the mail, but I think taking them too seriously stifles creativity.

6. What is the biggest decorating mistake you've made? How did you fix it?

When I was in the nesting stage of my last pregnancy, I tried to rush a valance making project. The resulting valances were not finished very well and actually didn't fit my windows at all. After having my father-in-law hang them, I had to live with them until my newborn was six months old. I still haven't figured out the perfect look for those windows, but I took down the offending toppers as soon as I was able.

7. What is your favorite room in your home? Why?

I love my home. It's very open and comfortable. A lot of thought and time has gone into decorating the whole thing. That said, I would have to say our playroom downstairs is my favorite room. I had dreamed of that space for a long time. I knew I wanted it to be multi-functional. I wanted room for toys, comfortable seating for adults, and I wanted it to reflect our love of learning. My husband gave me full reign on the aesthetic decisions and I went with it. I made a huge game closet, hung maps on the walls, divided it up into stations just like any fun preschool class would, I even created the perfect set up for music. I love the beadboard on the walls. I love the red, green and yellow striped curtains that make the perfect "R" shape when pulled back. I love that the bones are good, that will make it easier for this room to grow with our children.

Thanks, Amy! (Hiding behind this Dutch door is my kids' favorite spot in your home...the empty space under the stairs. A perfect kid-size getaway.) Your home is a perfect expression of YOU. Love you!


Bridget said...

Wow. I LOVE that play room. The lighting is beautiful and I just love , love wainscoting.

It's fun to read more about your extended family. I feel like I know just about your whole clan now. What a great family you have.

Marty said...

Amy has the knack of making everything artistic. Special little touches are everywhere (even the phone list magnet on the fridge is creatively designed.) When the cushions and blankies are left on the floor, it actually looks like they belong there. It's a magazine photo shoot waiting to happen. Great interview, Gab!

Nimmy said...

Wow, Gabi. You really put me in a great light. Thanks so much for interviewing me and introducing me in such a loving way. Love you.

Jessica said...

That playroom is gorgeous. I loved reading that whole thing.

John Holly Levi & Faith said...

Oh how I wish this was my home!! I love beadboard and I love the kids playroom. I think that's what I want the most since I don't have one. Cute sister, Gabi!

jason said...

hey, here is the site i was talking about where i made the extra cash......

this site ..

Dancin Queen said...

Amy lives across the street from my mom, and she is adorable. We were in the same ward for about 6 months. And her children are brilliant and well behaved. Totally shattered my theory that all kids are crazy, and gives me a complex!

And you're right, her house is gorgeous, especially her fun basement.

Amy--if you read this--HI! Haven't seen you for a while. And can I get an invite to your blog? wendi

Lauren said...

I truly enjoyed reading that. What a lovely home.

Gabi, you are so funny...I got a chuckle out of, "twist the knife" expressed your love and admiration of your sister, beautifully.

YOU are amazing also, my dear :)

Paige said...

Gabi, that was really great. I wish I had 1% of what Amy has! Great last shot, too.

Heidiram said...

Those pictures look like they came out of a magazine. Can I borrow your sister to do wonders in my home? I LOVE the play room.

Jill said...

Gab, your posts are the best!!!! You are such an amazing writer. You have great topics and share a wealth of idea's through the variety of people you introduce and through your own idea's. THANKS! Love it. You rock!

Rochelleht said...

Oh my gosh, I LOVE that red door. That is so fab! What a great family you have, Gab.

marta said...

her home is the best. she is the perfect party hostess.. always at ease, cheerful with treats scattered about. mmm. mm. hooray for nimmy!

Melissa Walker said...

Amy always was creative, artsy, and generous with all her resources. I love that you and she have such a great relationship--what you said about her and what she said about you on her blog show how much you complement (and also compliment)each other!

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