What a treat! We all get to take a peek around Amanda’s house today. She and her family live in sunny Southern California and this house has all the bright whites and sunny windows to prove it. And the design details are also just so thoughtful. Soft blues, interesting textures and really beautifully chosen pieces. It really is such a treat. Welcome, Amanda!
Hi! My name is Amanda and I live with my husband of 18 years, Thomas, and our two kids Joshua (7) and Faith (5). Thomas and I met in Maui. I know, right? What are the chances — considering I’m originally from Dallas and my husband is born and raised in SoCal? Long story short: I was 17 years old when we met, vacationing with family the summer after my senior year of High School. Thomas asked me out on one date the night before I flew back to Texas and the rest is history. After an 18-month long distance relationship, I moved to Los Angeles to see if this was really true love and to finish my college degree. We know it’s cheesy and we joke that it was love at first sight…but it actually was! Young island love at its best — and no Bachelor/Bachelorette show required.
Thomas and I run a business together in the sports fitness industry and while we enjoy the challenge of working with new people and staying current in an ever-changing market, our kids are currently taking center stage in our lives. They are the best part of each day and we are thankful that we have the privilege of raising these tiny humans. Our son, Joshua loves building Lego creations and taking long bike rides. He has goofy sense of humor and loves to make people laugh. His laugh is pretty contagious and always brightens my day.
Our daughter, Faith, is constantly singing or entertaining the family. She is quite the extrovert and we love her eccentric personality. She’s a perfect combo of sweet and spice. One side is all about wearing pretty dresses and painting her nails while the other is pretending to be a ninja warrior and finding the best way to wrestle her brother to the ground. We’ve always hoped that our kids would be best of friends growing up. Even though it was hard having two babies so close together in age (they are 20 months apart), it is so much fun watching as their close-knit bond evolves. Yes, they fight and sometimes get under each other’s skin, but at the end of the day, they always come back together and have a genuine love and respect for one other.
Being a parent is hands down one of the greatest privileges. We love experiencing life with Joshua and Faith by our side! There are definitely tough days, letdowns, and things that don’t go our way but we choose to focus on all the beautiful blessings that daily come our way. The true mountain top experiences that go hand and hand with parenting far outweigh any valley that happens along the way.
We live in what is known as the Cal-Tech neighborhood in Pasadena, CA. Our neighborhood is associated with this name because of its proximity to the prestigious Cal-Tech University. Many consider Cal-Tech to be the MIT of the West Coast. Some of the world’s brightest and finest attend school at Cal-Tech. It is encouraging to see geniuses in their 20’s solve the world’s problems while we take a Sunday stroll through campus. This neighborhood is filled with unique architecture and beautifully manicured yards and mature tree-lined streets.
My husband grew up going to school in this neighborhood at Polytechnic School. When we were looking to buy, he knew this is exactly where he wanted to purchase our first home. Our neighbors are like family and it is a wonderful place to raise kids. We love the traditions that come along with being homeowners in this part of town. It’s things like, “Hey everyone, BBQ potluck at the neighbors,” that make us so thankful to be part of this community. It’s a slice of life that is becoming less common in Los Angeles because… well, maybe because it’s just so dang expensive.
Our vision for this home was to preserve and update a modern California Cottage. The high-pitched roofline, for example, is characteristic to our area of the neighborhood and something we wanted to keep in the updated architecture. Although our home is 2 stories, we were able to keep up its cohesiveness with the street by maintaining common features. I mean, you can tell that it’s probably a new construction because you see more older homes with stucco, versus Hardy board plank siding, which we decided to use in this project.
Funny enough though, our design choice has had an impact on several newer remodels. We are seeing a lot more plank siding as opposed to when we started our project several years ago. It’s a very clean look. You don’t have to paint it and it’s fairly easy to maintain. Having traveled the country to some of our favorite coastal places like Nantucket and Charleston, we were exposed stylistically to different looks that helped reinforce our taste. I honestly think that’s where some of the original design and remodel ideas were born for this house.
We bought our home in 2004 but the prices have jumped to a whole new level and I’m not positive what we would do if we were in the market to purchase a family home in this area now. There were multiple factors that made it clear for us that okay, we want to stay at this address but we are going to make this home into something special that will work for us as a family for years to come. Enough space, enough storage, with a style that makes us smile and reinforces that home is our sanctuary.
We bought this house over 17 years ago right after we married and graduated from USC – go Trojans! At the time, the market was still very competitive but prices were much lower than current market value. As I mentioned, my husband attended grade school and high school in the area at Poly Technic. He has always loved the area and knew this was exactly where he wanted to start a family. It is a gorgeous area so of course, I was on board too!
If I remember correctly, there were at least 15 different offers on our house. We wrote a sincere and heartfelt letter explaining why we felt this was a perfect home for us and put in our best offer. The house was darling but definitely needed improvements. The bones and foundation of the house were great. We looked past cosmetic improvements because we knew we could improve upon those things over time.
I would recommend that readers narrow down the area you want to live and just be patient with the process. The right house will come along. Know your budget and just stay within that range. Look at the nuts and bolts of the house (the stuff that isn’t always shiny and pretty but holds the house together — plumbing, electrical, etc). The cosmetic things can always get fixed over time but if the foundational elements of the house are troublesome now, you may have major problems down the road. Don’t get discouraged. We didn’t get the first house we bid on and I’m so glad we didn’t. We ended up in the exact house we were supposed to be in despite what we initially thought.
Our original house had a very small floor plan with only 2 bedrooms and 1 and ½ baths. It didn’t flow well nor suit the needs of our growing family. We wanted an open floor plan with a central area for entertaining and cooking, a principal bedroom with ensuite bathroom and walk-in closet, bedrooms for each of our children, and a guest room for visiting grandparents and family from Texas. Our style had also changed and we were ready for a fresh update. We were ready to move on from beige walls and dark wood furniture and into something fresh, bright and light.
The best part of renovating was definitely the excitement of planning and picking out beautiful materials. Working with designer Amy Peltier, from Amy Peltier Interior Design & Home, gave my husband and I a huge boost of confidence as they held our hand through the entire process and helped translate our vision to the many contractors that worked on the project. Picking out tile and grout colors can feel overwhelming in the midst of endless renovation decisions, but a seasoned designer will take the stress out of the smaller details and put the focus back on the big picture vision.
Advice for someone starting a similar project: Take the time to plan out all the details from start to finish before rushing a start date. Know your must-haves that you can’t live without and then start from there. Once construction starts, things can move very fast and having all the details lined up will help keep the project timeline on schedule. When problems arise, and they always do, don’t sweat it! There is a solution to every problem. With the right team and a large dose of patience, you can work through any obstacle. Leave reserves in your budget for the surprises that come up because there will inevitably be one or two…or three.
A design team is a tremendous help in keeping the project both on time and on budget. Unfortunately there will be delays and lots of checks to write, but remember, it is a marathon, not a sprint. Take one thing at a time and before you know it, you’ll be enjoying your beautiful space and all the well thought out details that went into every single decision.
As with most things in life, it will take longer than you think; it will cost more money than you think. Don’t sweat the small stuff and it’s all small stuff (credit to the person that wrote that book). In the end, you WILL get there and you will be glad you went through the hard stuff. Be a team, stay united above all else. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Have fun with the process, love the process — and remember that everything is a process. Most importantly, don’t lose sight of the ones you are doing this for — your family and loved ones. In the end, our relationships are far more important than the picture perfect Instagram-worthy house. Take a time out when needed and make time for the ones you love most.
When kids are in school and playing sports/activities, nearly all weekday time is spoken for. You can only fit into the day a limited amount of things, and a jam-packed schedule is not fun or efficient for anyone. Being at home more has allowed us time to shift our focus and reprioritize our time. We are learning the importance of time management and structure so we make room for the things that truly light our hearts on fire. When it’s time for schoolwork, it’s time to focus and get those projects done with excellence.
At the same time, leaving room for creative play and physical activity is equally as important. Playing outside everyday is a must — weather permitting obviously. Run, ride scooters, paint, make a mess, and dig in mud! Yes! As much as it pains the neat freak in me to watch my daughter make mud pies in the backyard and drag out all the paints and sidewalk chalk, let the kids get dirty and enjoy their space! After all, this is their house too! I love when my children find pure enjoyment in the simple things around our home — things that spark their creative side.
Let’s be honest, keeping a home clean and organized is never an easy job, but again, it is all about balance. We are learning to include the kids on a lot more of the daily chores and teaching them the importance of teamwork. There’s a saying: Many hands make light work. In the past, I tried to do it all on my own and that is a quick recipe for disaster and burnout.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Coming back together after time away is a breath of fresh air for everyone. It allows us to recharge in our own separate ways and appreciate the time we have together. Focusing more on the quality of time versus quantity. And SYSTEMS! We have a system or a way that we do practically everything. Similar to running a business, having systems in place gives every family member a sense of purpose and direction. I find when life gets really busy, daily routines like where we put our backpacks and shoes away, when we do our homework and how we get ready for bed, encourages everyone to work together to tackle the “have to’s” so we can more quickly get to the fun stuff and relax.
We have a saying in our house: “Do what you have to do so you can do what you want to do.” Basically, get the hard stuff done first so you can enjoy the things you like most! We try to make it a priority to have dinner together as often as possible and one of our favorite things to do is share our “highs and lows” from the day. It’s a great way to connect with gratitude after a long day.
This house has been such a blessing in so many ways and my prayer is that we always have a thankful heart. I hope our kids never forget the memories. Racing up and down the stairs, laughing uncontrollably, even though mom said 50 times, “don’t play on the stairs.” Doing arts and crafts and family game night in the playroom, story time together in Joshua’s room and morning snuggles in mom and dad’s bed. Playing until dark with our neighborhood friends, late night dance parties, and long talks around the dinner table with loved ones. These are things we hope they remember about this home. Our home is more than the walls we built and the beautiful fixtures. It’s about the people inside that fill our hearts with love.
I hope they forget when I freaked out about not touching the white walls and curtains and about running upstairs with dirty shoes and feet! To my kids: I definitely stopped your friends on numerous occasions and made them wash their feet before heading upstairs (one of the reasons I might rethink light carpet in the future). I’m loosening up a bit now that we’ve broken the house in a bit more but I’m sure I scarred you a little.
I love sharing this life with my kids and talking to them. Letting them know how incredibly in love with them we are. Encouraging them and pouring confidence into every fiber of their little beings. It is a privilege to watch them grow in their unique gifts and talents and to experience childlike joy through their eyes. And I already miss sweet baby snuggles and naptimes, definitely the naptimes!!
Thank you, Amanda! Isn’t that home such a charmer! I love that there is a really clean, consistent style and color palette but it is broken up with beautiful light fixtures, happy wallpaper, and thoughtfully chosen pieces. You can really see that Amanda and her design team have such great taste. It feels modern and stylish but timeless too.
I also loved Amanda’s advice about getting outside and playing in the mud. For me and my family, coming out of a pandemic, and while the weather is just starting to get warmer, it feels like we have been staring at the same four walls for months! It is definitely time to see some sunshine and run around a bit and play in the mud.
Has the weather started warming up where you are? What are you looking forward to doing this spring and summer? Do you have any fun outdoor activities planned?
Round rope mirror
Brass Coffee Table
Would you like to share your home in our Living With Kids series? It’s lots of fun, I promise! (And we are always looking for more diversity in the families we feature here. Single parents, non-traditional parents, families of color, LGBT parents, multi-generational families. Reach out! We’d love to hear your stories!!) Email us at email@example.com.