Living With Kids: Alisa Burke

By Gabrielle.

Inspiration overload. You’ve been warned. If you only look at the pictures, you’ll want a wall of floor-to-ceiling blooms bursting into your life and a drawn-on dishwasher. But, oh! If you read Alisa‘s words, you’ll suddenly see everything around you in a crazy haze of beauty. (She’s an artist; she has that effect!)

Her perspective is one that I can’t wait to share, and I truly hope you’ll leave this post overwhelmed with encouragement. Friends, please help me welcome Alisa and her family!

Q: We can’t wait to meet you all! Tell us everything…

A: I live with my husband Andy and two year old daughter Lucy in a small town on the Oregon Coast. My husband and I have been married for ten years, and together we live a very creative and non-traditional life working as artists. A few years ago, we put a plan in motion to chase after the dream of simplicity. We wanted to leave our fast-paced life in Southern California, and move back to my small hometown on the Oregon Coast where we could focus on raising our daughter and running a creative business together.

My husband quit his job as a structural engineer to be a stay-at-home dad and pursue his own art career, and my business became the means for our survival. We knew that if we decided to start a family, there was no looking back! We wanted to say goodbye to the predictability of steady jobs and income, and choose the road less traveled.

Our longing was to live a simple and alternative life with creativity and family at the center. It’s definitely not always perfect – in fact, it can be down right challenging – but now that we are living our dream, we cannot imagine our life being any other way. From days spent together, to making art as a family, to running a business together, our goal is to build a life that mimics the rhythms that feel most natural for us. I know that our goals will always be changing and evolving, but right now our focus is to embrace simplicity, explore creativity, and nurture Lucy’s passions.

Q: How did this house become your home?

A: Our house actually belonged to my grandmother. It’s located around the corner from the beach, and is two doors down from my the home I grew up in and where my parents still live. I’ve always loved the house, and had dreams one day of moving back to my hometown and living in the same neighborhood where I grew up.

When my grandmother passed away, we were presented with the opportunity to purchase the house. It was a blessing that came at the perfect time. With three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and lots of outdated details, our home is far from perfect but it is our dream home and we are so grateful for the opportunity to live here.

Q: What makes you love the place you live?

A: Since the day I left my hometown of Seaside, Oregon, I have always wanted to return. While I love to travel and I love city life, there is nothing that compares to small-town living, especially on the Oregon Coast. Seaside is a small coastal resort town about 1.5 hours from Portland. We are surrounded by mountains and the sea, elk and deer wander freely in our yards, sea lions mingle with surfers, miles of empty beaches are filled with treasures, and life is a little slower and more simple.

I’ve been a lot of places but there is something really special and magical about the Oregon Coast. While it can be challenging to live in a small town in the Pacific Northwest – there is no Target or big shopping malls, rubber boots are a wardrobe staple, and it rains A LOT – I am so happy that this is where we are growing our roots. Giving our daughter the gift of a simple childhood filled with adventures in nature and near the ocean is something that we dreamed about.

Q: Your aesthetic is so bold, and yet so relaxed. Tell us about your goals with your home decor…and your art, as well.

A: I love bold color, I love to make a mess, I like to take chances, break rules, and find all kinds of ways to get creative! After years spent painting canvas, I truly believe that anything can be transformed with a little creativity (and paint). Our lives are so creative and my business revolves around teaching and inspiring others, so I think it’s pretty natural for me treat home decor like art. From painting a mural in our bedroom to drawing on our dishwasher to incorporating bold pops of color in every room, I am always looking for ways to blur the lines between art and decor.

Thankfully, my husband is supportive about my decor decisions. He is used to me painting a mural, then six months later painting over it, changing our furniture around, and taking on crazy DIY projects. I think our home will always be a work in progress, changing and evolving with our interests and inspiration. While my design ascetic is not for everyone, it works great for our family.

Q: Art and creativity seems to be everywhere around you. How has this affected your daughter in terms of how you see her viewing the world around her? (Is she perplexed when she encounters a random bland doctor’s office?!)

A: That’s a great question and one that I get asked a lot! I’ve been creating with my daughter Lucy since the day she was born. From drawing while she napped on my chest to painting with her on my back to letting her work alongside me in the studio, she has witnessed the creative process pretty much every day of her life.

Much to my surprise she is kind of indifferent to it all! While she is incredibly creative and has some very advanced art making skills – the kid draws and paints like a pro! – she is really well-rounded. Lucy seems to appreciate both the creative and the not so creative. I don’t know if it’s her age or her personality, but at two years old she is excited about everything she encounters. From one of my colorful paintings to cracks in the sidewalk to bark on a tree to an empty wall, she finds joy in pretty much everything.

Q: You’ve worked hard on your career. Tell us how it has touched your family.

Next to marriage and having a child, living my dream of working as a self-employed artist is one of the best things that has happened in my life. I’ve spent a lot of time – over 20 years – trying to reach the goal of making a living as an artist. Walking away from my day job over six years ago was one of the best days of my life. When it was possible for my husband to quit his job to be a stay at home dad and join my creative business, it felt even more amazing.

My creative career has been the vehicle for a lot of opportunities and changes, but the biggest has been putting family at the center. Becoming parents drastically changed our priorities. During my life before Lucy, I was very productive and goal driven. At the core of everything I did (the creative process, business decisions and priorities) was an overwhelming passion and need to make art.

Once Lucy was born, my thinking changed. While art is still the core and foundation of my individuality, I now feel like I’m doing it for Lucy, our family, and our future. I now see my passion for creativity as a way in which I can be a provider, and this has influenced the direction of many decisions that I make. Long ago, my dream was to simply get paid to be an artist. But now that I’m older, my dreams are about using my passion for art to create a solid future for our family.

Q: When did you feel like you had really made it as an artist? When did you feel like you really made it becoming a mom?

A: Surprisingly these moments have actually merged for me! Leading up to pregnancy and Lucy’s arrival, I spent so much time scared of what would happen to me and my business once I became a mom. I mean, I was obsessed with the worrying about losing my creativity and my identity as an artist and entrepreneur! And then Lucy arrived and something really amazing happened: my inspiration and creativity flourished in ways I never could have imagined.

Incorporating motherhood into my life as an artist and entrepreneur has been the single most profound part of this journey so far. I knew our lives would be creative, and that parenting and business could co-exist. I knew I would introduce art to Lucy with the obvious: drawing, painting, and crafting. But what I didn’t realize was how inspired I would be by having a child. Every moment of every day, I find myself tapping into my creativity to express my love to Lucy.

From making things that bring her joy to using art for teaching moments to finding inspiration in her interests, I have discovered new ways to be an artist and a mom. All of this has greatly influenced the direction of my creative business and added a new way of seeing to the way that I make art. I now consider myself a mom blogger – something I would have cringed at before becoming a mom – and I have found a really unique perspective and voice that I enjoy sharing with my readers and customers. I have always loved inspiring others to be creative but now I am able to inspire women to incorporate art into motherhood.

Q: Working from home, how do you structure and balance your days?

A: Structure is my biggest challenge these days. Since most of my time is spent working from home with my husband and daughter all day, structure and juggling distractions can be tricky. I don’t necessarily have set days or hours for work, but instead have accepted that I have to work seven days a week BUT with lots of flexibility.

I find that it is helpful to split tasks up into small chunks of time or micro-sessions. I’ll work for two hours at home or in my studio, which is luckily five minutes away, and then change gears, switch off with my husband, and take over with the childcare duties while he takes a break and goes surfing, works on his art, or works around the house. We switch back and forth like this all day; a harmonized little tag team.

There are times when I really miss the freedom to be selfish with my schedule, but those moments are thankfully fleeting. More than anything, I love spending time with my daughter and being a part of her daily schedule. I know this time in her life is short so it’s a priority for me to soak it all up as much as I can.

While it would make more sense for me to leave the house to work, our schedule makes me happy. I love being at home and incorporating Lucy and Andy into my daily creative projects and tasks. I also love being available to drop everything and go play. I’d gladly work late into the night in exchange for a day of adventure! At the end of the day if I’m productive, creative, joyful and present for my family, I am satisfied.

Q: What do you hope your daughter remembers about this home? How do you dream she’ll recall this time in her life?

A: We both want Lucy to remember this home as a place of love, creativity, imagination, and joy. I hope she recalls this time in her life as magical, and as time when passions and interests were cultivated and fostered.

Q: What has been your favorite part about living with your daughter? What has surprised you the most about being a mom?

A: My favorite part of living with Lucy is the light that she brings to my life; it’s like someone turned on a switch and everything shines a little brighter. My journey into motherhood was a little different from others because I spent my 20s and 30s not wanting children. After going through some life changing experiences, Andy and I literally woke up one day and both wanted to start a family, and at age 35 I was pregnant!

Having spent so many years not wanting children, I have been surprised and humbled about how natural and right being a mom feels. My 20 year old self wouldn’t believe it, but becoming a mother has felt like I discovered my calling. I’ve enjoyed every single moment and stage of this entire journey, but I am loving the toddler stage right now. There is nothing that compares to having a conversation with a two year old.

Q: Please finish the sentence: I wish someone had told me…

A: Oh goodness, there are all kinds of things I wish I knew, but the biggest would be how vulnerable and scared becoming a parent makes you feel at times. Sure, I knew from observing others just how emotional it all can be, but I wasn’t prepared for the intensity. There have been so many moments, both good and bad, where I have felt overwhelmed by how important this job is.

I remember holding Lucy for the first time feeling absolutely terrified by the fact that I was now responsible for keeping a tiny newborn alive! This feeling is now deeply ingrained in who I am and something I constantly have to work through so I don’t become weighed down with fear. Watching the news, planning meals, teaching new skills, even having fun all make me feel like my entire heart and soul is exposed and vulnerable. And while this feeling can be challenging, it is actually one of the best parts of being a mom because it is so rooted in the most beautiful and profound love that I have ever experienced.


My favorite new phrase?  “A harmonized little tag team.” Thank you, Alisa, for your beautiful words. Someday, Lucy will read this and feel so proud to know the effect she’s had on your life and career. There can’t be a better feeling or gift!

Friends, wasn’t it re-energizing to read Alisa’s thoughts on how becoming a mother has enhanced her goals and work? “It’s like someone turned on a switch and everything shines a little brighter.” So often, the focus is on all the things we no longer have time to accomplish once kids enter the mix, but what if we all started realizing how much these little ones actually inspire us without limits? Tell us how motherhood has invigorated your life and career, will you?

P.S. – Are you interested in sharing your own home with us? Just send me a note! It’s a lot of fun…I promise! Take a peek at all the homes in my Living With Kids series here.

34 thoughts on “Living With Kids: Alisa Burke”

  1. “…but becoming a mother has felt like I discovered my calling.”

    Simply beautiful!

    And we used to hit Seaside every few years when I was growing up! A lovely, fun little town to have special memories of – whether one lives their full time or visits!

  2. This was the exact thing I needed to read today! We are expecting our first (a girl we wanted to name Lucy! No joke), also jumping into my freelance art career and contemplating quitting my full time job — all while looking for the perfect house to raise our growing family. It was so perfect and beautiful to read about someone who is a few years past us and living the life we dream of. Thanks for such a great, inspiring article. I hope my home feels as creative, warm and inviting as hers does someday.

  3. I look forward to Tuesdays every week so I can read Living With Kids. Alisa’s house is officially one of my favorites! She has the vision to add color in all the right places, without her other furniture looking thrown together or out of place. I found myself just studying her room with the fireplace with the beautiful ottoman and low pink chair (the bench in there was perfect too), not to mention the artwork that fits in so beautifully. Love everything about it!

    Also really liked Lucy’s room. I’m very interested in the white bookcase with the cute baskets (to Lucy’s right in the photo). Would you share where you found this? I think I’ve seen similar things at IKEA but I really like this one in particular.

    Great post. Sweet family. Such inspiring words. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Thank you for sharing Alisa’s story, home, and family. Her use of color and art in her home and how she has chosen to integrate her daughter in all that she does is so inspiring to me!

  5. Super inspired by this home tour (that dishwasher! that wall! Lucy’s room!), and happy to discover a new blog which seems to match is so perfectly. (I picked up a feather on my walk today, and can’t wait to draw it/stamp it/paint it/etc.) Also, I completely relate to the idea of never wanting children, and then realizing after having one how in the dark I was about how great it would be. Thanks for the authenticity – which shows up not only in your writing, but somehow also in your home decor.

  6. Be careful – my mom is a colorful, talented artist and I’m a cut-and-dry, book smart numbers person who excels at…well, Excel…and not art. It’s amazing the surprising products of growing up in a creative environment.

  7. I was just in Seaside yesterday! We were staying in Arch Cape and fell in love with it.
    This was so inspiring! Alisa seems like an interesting and heart filled person. Would love to follow her around for a day!

  8. I have been following Alisa Burke’s blog for few years now. Imagine my joyful surprise when I saw her featured here. :)

    Alisa is a true inspiration to fellow creative moms. Although nobody has the perfect life, hers is one that seems to come pretty close!

    Thank you for featuring her Gabrielle, and thank you Alisa for sharing so beautifully!


  9. So good! I love the freedom, life, and creativity that seems to flow from her home. I can so relate to her sentiment “Watching the news, planning meals, teaching new skills, even having fun all make me feel like my entire heart and soul is exposed and vulnerable.” That is exactly how I feel, and I also struggle with feeling weighed down with fear, so knowing someone else faces that too (and overcomes it!), that is so encouraging to me. Thanks for sharing your home Alisa!

  10. I have been following Alisa’s blog for sometime and so surprised and happy to see her featured here!

    I love her carefree life style! Lucy is so cute!

    What a great story and such a cool family!

    Thank you

  11. Loved readying this as well as all you’re Living with Kids” series. I do wish we’d see more about moms with more traditional (ie office) jobs :)

  12. Oh would you look at that… How stunning to find Alisa Burke and her family… and Little Lucy!!! Featured on your blog… Just totally love it!!!

  13. Beautiful and inspirational. As someone trying to move from an unfulfilling desk job to a (hopefully) self-employed occupation with more fulfillment and freedom, and as the mother of a toddler, I found this interview a golden nugget to treasure. Thanks so much for sharing.

  14. I’m not very creative or artsy, but I am totally making the art display clips in the 3rd from the last picture! I CAN DO THAT! What a fun way to display my kids’ artwork!

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  16. Oh, I love Alissa! I discovered her blog a couple of years ago and I found it refreshing and inspiring. She helped me alot in the process to reach my own dreams.

  17. The home! The murals! The backyard space! It is all so lovely! And the philosophy yall have put into place in raising your family makes my heart sing. Congratulations!

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