Living With Kids: Jane Rhodes, Part Two

By Gabrielle. Photos by Becky Kimball.

When Jane Rhodes invited us to take a fresh peek into her family’s Utah home, I recalled how much we all enjoyed the 2012 tour of their Boston home. Remember? The kids’ bedroom decor reflected their unique personalities and interests at the time, there was enough space carved out for everyone even if it meant a reading nook took residence under the staircase or a craft table was stuffed perfectly in a tight window space, and there were those cute extra beds in the master bedroom waiting patiently for nighttime visitors of the small kind!

It was all so thoughtful and refreshing.

Fast forward a few years to a new residence in Utah. It’s a treat to see how the family’s needs have changed as the kids have grown, and how their decor style has simplified. There’s now a fresh emphasis on how they’re using their spaces – not just how they’re decorating them. I love when that happens, don’t you?

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a home quite like this one, and I thought you’d be interested in seeing it, too! (Oh! And for those of you with teens, Jane needs your advice on curfews!) Welcome, Rhodes family!

Our introduction might take a while – there are six of us plus a puppy!

I am a lifestyle blogger, artist, graphic designer, and mom of four. After completing my art degree this December, I plan to attend grad school. I love creating movies, photography, planning events, traveling, reading, gardening, running with our puppy, spending lazy days at home with our family, getting involved in humanitarian projects, and riding out a pretty big Wayne Dyer kick.

My husband, Dusty, and I live in the beautiful mountains of Orem, Utah. Neither of us thought to claim Utah as our home state, but we’ve now been here longer than our own native states, so we’re claiming it! And our children really like it here, so we’re staying put for now.

My husband is my dreamy college love who planned on going to med school after playing football and in the process founded a sports wear company. Dusty Rhodes (I like to call him by his full name – I like the ring to it!) decided to ditch med school and spend his days submersed in sports-related projects. Yet, he still claims to know more than anyone else in our home about medical issues. I feel it necessary to tell you he’s a Red Sox fan. That detail alone occupies a big part of our life. We claim it a miracle that we’ve stayed together for 20 years this year and haven’t killed each other.

What is it like to have four children? In Jim Gaffigan’s words: “Imagine you’re drowning. And someone hands you a baby.” We constantly function in survival mode.

Kiana is 17 and will be a senior in high school in the fall. She’s non-stop fun, and her ability to work out a later and later curfew might be giving Dusty and me grey hair. If you have a teenager: how late do you allow them to stay out? I’m really asking. Kiana is a prodigy at braiding hair and she loves scary movies. As in the really freaky ones.

Myla is 15 and all over computer science. She hopes to lead her generation of young women into the tech industry and balance the genders a bit. She plays tennis, softball, golf, and is experiencing the joy of raising a puppy. Technically, that furry beast is hers. Best ever lesson in responsibility for a teenager.

Our only son, KJ, is 12. He also loves everything tech. When he’s not begging for more time on his gadgets, he plays baseball, rides his bike, and likes long boarding. I mean, lets just be honest, this generation has a lot of tech options. It’s a battle for him to not be on it 24/7. It’s also common to catch him playing Beatles songs on the piano or his ukulele. The dude has great taste in music.

Our baby, Sela, is eight. I truly believe the acronym “FOMO” was created for her. This girl has a genuine heart of gold, and does not want to miss out on anything – including her parents’ date nights. She still gets teary when we try to go anywhere without her. Yeah, I’d say at least half of our dates include her.

Wellesley Baloo. Our seven-month-old Australian Labradoodle. We actually signed up for this madness. Lucky for our puppy, her big brown eyes and endless amounts of cuteness have allowed her to stay after all of the indoor potty accidents and the chewing. Oh the chewing.

I am guessing the house in which we live is a late-1960s rambler. I’m not exactly sure about the year. I first saw the interior during a public Parade of Homes in 2011, and I was completely smitten with the unique design and architectural work. A local family had purchased the home from the original owners and had remodeled the entire structure. The variety of natural elements that were chosen to create a style that mixes a traditional Utah look with industrial, steam punk, modern, mid-century modern, and rustic touches work so well together. It’s almost impossible to name all of the styles used to inspire the finished design. As soon as I saw it, I’m fairly certain at that moment I was thinking, “I want this house one day.”

We moved to Boston for two years, then decided in spring of 2013 to return to Utah, and were extremely pressed for time to find a home. And that house was for sale! Within a few weeks we packed up, drove across the country, and moved in! Each time I’ve since walked through the door, I’ve been amazed at our home. Our whole family adores this home.

But the unique design creates some unique challenges. Not everything was remodeled following code. For example, the entire huge kitchen cabinet that hangs above our stovetop and holds our microwave came crashing down when we had been there for only about ten days. We felt like we were living in the movie The Money Pit! We had a section of the roof that wasn’t finished and was leaking, we had plumbing issues, and we underwent nonstop projects to repair things and to make the home a bit more us. We went into bedrooms and bathrooms and whitewashed the walls to cover some unique murals, and added a wood planked wall in our son’s room. Now, after nearly replacing or fixing everything to some degree, it feels like ours.

My favorite part of the home is unquestionably the architectural elements that eliminate the need for a lot of interior design. Minimalist at heart – especially after Marie Kondo’ing – I prefer an uncomplicated backdrop. I love the floors, walls, doors, and every light switch, timber, steel baseboard, and I try not to cover the details and distract with decorating.

I easily become exhausted when I’m too focused too long on decorating my home. I feel self-absorbed and over-privileged. I don’t want my life to be too focused on how I decorate. I find it mandatory in the age of social media overstimulation curation to find your style, stick with it, get settled, then live your life. It’s important to me that people come into a clean, cozy, and comfortable environment. Once I have a room to where I like it, I just move on and leave it that way for as long as I can so real life can be lived.

The more pervasive social media has become, the more I have craved personal interaction, so I started Little Retreats to encourage choosing the real over the virtual. I love art in all forms, I love learning about almost anything, and I crave good food and good company. I like to bring in a local artist to share a skill with us, and help us create something tactile that brings a deeper meaning to our lives beyond our daily tasks, to-dos, errands, extravagant checklists, and worries. I help create a moment in time where we come together, enjoy simple pleasures, and relax. So far it’s been a huge success and I look forward to planning more.

Hosting the retreats in my home is just something in my comfort zone. I like to keep details simple but good. Earthy, organic. I put a lot of effort into helping the guests to arrive and instantly feel welcome, to feel that the atmosphere is inviting and cozy. If your heart is in the right place, your guests will feel it.

My husband and one of his friends made a set of tables for the retreats. They have interchangeable legs so guests can sit traditionally on chairs and benches one time, or sheepskins on the floor with a shorter table the next. I limit the number of guests to keep the event intimate.

My advice for keeping pre-event anxiety manageable? Have a glass of wine before your guests arrive!

I was born in Juneau, Alaska and raised on the Washington State coast. My husband is from Nevada. We spent a couple of our early years teaching English in South Korea, and traveling  around Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. We frequently go to the Philippines and Mexico.  And we all just spent two years living in Boston. I have loved all of those places, but Utah feels like home. And it’s hard to beat when it comes to raising kids.

Kids, tweens and teens here really know how to have fun without complication; it’s just simple, crazy fun. There are so many year-round outdoor activities here, and things like neighborhood night games, high school football, and dances are really big deals in these parts. Kids still face the pressures of drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, but the majority choose not to indulge in these things and get to have a childhood with a bit less danger and more nostalgic memories. That is priceless to us.

To be really vulnerable here, the intense teenage focus on chilling out with alcohol was the number one reason we left Boston. It was an unusually difficult battle to get teenagers to make plans to do anything but drink. Yes, I would hope my kids could learn to say no regardless of where we choose to live. But we were so aware of the youth culture in Utah, and it was something we wanted but couldn’t replicate without living there. We made it a family priority and chose to move back.

We really miss Red Sox games at Fenway, the beauty of New England, weekend trips to NYC, and of course the good friends we collected while we lived there.

I think our entire family would agree that my favorite part is actually how much fun we have in our yard. We regularly utilize every area: we play lots of catch, kick ball, volleyball, basketball, swim, and ride bikes, scooters, and skateboards. Our home has a concrete pathway that runs around the entire perimeter of our two-acre lot – a perfect 1/5 of a mile. We can run laps around our home! Myla and KJ rode 50 laps around it one time so they could say they’d biked ten miles. Stuff like this makes me smile for days, and not just because of our yard – it’s the time we’re spending together that we love, and that can take place anywhere.

In 2011, I went to a routine annual health checkup and found a thyroid nodule just over 1” in diameter that I had never noticed. It blew my mind. I’ve always focused on eating well, exercising, and thought something like this would be avoidable. I suddenly required extra doctor appointments in the midst of moving, helping kids adjust to new schools, and all that comes with that. So, I chose to take a year off of blogging to focus on other priorities.

Some bloggers might use this kind of situation for more blog material, but I learned that I was a bit more private. I wanted to focus my time on my family and my health. It turns out, I had Follicular Variant of Papillary Thyroid Cancer. I went through two routine surgeries to have the nodule and my thyroid fully removed. I did iodine radiation therapy, and have been in remission for one year now. It’s still a journey to live with synthetic hormones, but I’m learning and am forever grateful for my current good health.

The break from blogging was good for me. Social media in all forms consumes a lot of time, and it was a great year for me to refocus on living more intentionally.

It’s funny. If I really think about it, I don’t have any preference over what my kids remember from this home. As for me being their mom, I hope they know and believe in how much they’re fiercely loved. Isn’t love all that matters?

I wish someone had told me that what others think doesn’t matter. I wish I could have believed that sooner. It took me far too long to be honest about how I feel and have the courage to share who I really am.

Life is too short to not be authentic.


Your final sentence says it all. Authenticity is more than a social media and blogging trend: it’s the freest feeling around, online and especially off! Thanks for the reminder, Jane! Also, your table of varying heights is genius. And while I’m at it, how about this as yummy food for thought: “I don’t want my life to be too focused on how I decorate. I find it mandatory in the age of social media overstimulation curation to find your style, stick with it, get settled, then live your life.”

I’m wondering if any of you are living in a home with so much built-in personality that your own decorating becomes unnecessary. For me, I enjoy The Treehouse’s never-ending windows that give us ever-changing scenes depending on the time of day and season. Sure, it would also be lovely to have a massive gallery wall on which to hang artwork and photos of our favorite memories, but Mother Nature is hard to beat as an interior designer!

(And for those of you with teens, please weigh-in on Jane’s curfew query! I think she’d like some back-up! And if you have teens, what are your thoughts about the family moving back to Utah to allow their kids to experience the teenage years in a more edited setting? If you could do the same, would you?)

P.S. – Are you living with your own kids in a unique way? Are you interested in sharing your home and experiences with us? Let me knowWe love to be inspired! And it’s a lot of fun…I promise! Take a peek at all the homes in my Living With Kids series here.

31 thoughts on “Living With Kids: Jane Rhodes, Part Two”

    1. Thanks Kristi. We love the windows too, but we’re hitting temps over 100 right now in Utah, so we’re all a bit warmer than normal inside – it’s cool. While we walk around the house sweating we have great views! We’re doing all we can to try and figure the most economical way that also looks good to cover them!

  1. I love this house! This paragraph really spoke to me: “I easily become exhausted when I’m too focused too long on decorating my home. I feel self-absorbed and over-privileged. I don’t want my life to be too focused on how I decorate. I find it mandatory in the age of social media overstimulation curation to find your style, stick with it, get settled, then live your life. It’s important to me that people come into a clean, cozy, and comfortable environment. Once I have a room to where I like it, I just move on and leave it that way for as long as I can so real life can be lived.” Thank you for your wisdom!

  2. Very cool house – love it.

    Re: the curfew – We live in the city so were comfortable with our teen being out a little later (no windy roads to drive, etc.). We need her to check in with us every few hours, though, and we have little kids, so she has to stay mindful of that. Just wait until they go to college and come home wanting even more freedom ;). That’s what we’re dealing with now. Uber cabs help too if she and her friends stay together – that way, no parent pick up, etc. anywhere. We allow 1 am (she’s 19).

  3. We have a large family of wonderful kids, really we got lucky, but I still feel a great responsibility to help them stay safe. My husband likes to say that it isn’t our job to make the kids make good decisions but to teach them how to make good decisions. So they can manage when we are not looking. If they seem to be a good job then we give them more freedom but if they start having trouble we contract things a bit to give them a reality check. So, the curfew varies. It sounds like love isn’t a problem!

    1. Hey Suzie. The needlepoint family portrait is by my friend Nicole Choules, on IG you can find her as: nicole_hum_stitchery !!! I’m not sure if she always takes custom orders, but it never hurts to ask!

      And, the dollhouse trio – I’m assuming you are talking about the cardboard houses? I made those this past winter for my youngest daughter following instructions from the instructions from another friend – Merrily Liddiard on IG as: @mer_mag, she has a children’s craft book with a template and step by step instructions. I didn’t follow it exactly but very close! At Christmas, our “elf on the shelf” lived in these houses. ;)

  4. I loved this tour and love this home. Jane is one of the loveliest friends both inside and out. In the years I’ve gotten to know her I’ve learned so much from observing her. I love the way her family chooses to live their lives and she does an amazing job of balancing it all while still finding time for her own creative endeavors. Love you Jane and loved seeing your beautiful space here!


  5. My mom used to say that good things rarely happen after midnight. Perhaps its the witching hour. But more important than what time I came home, the thing that had the biggest impact on me was this: She explained that people rarely do their best thinking when they are getting tired 0r high (on life, alcohol, boys etc) so she always requested that I go into the night with a plan. Think through, where are you going? What kind of decision might you need to make? Co-ed party? What if a boy is trying to go farther than you want? Hanging out with friends at the beach? how do you decline diving off a cliff at night? Going to where there is likely drinking? Who is DD? what if they drink anyway? those kinds of things.
    That prep helped me navigate some hairy situations as a teen and I was glad to have ways around things that I knew were bad choices.

    1. I love this process of thinking through ‘what ifs’. I used to do a similar thing with my daughter when she would climb trees – what’s your plan for getting back down? Now that she’s a teen, adapting it for social situations is a great idea.

  6. Hey I know Dusty! We grew up in the same teeny tiny small town. I wonder if he remembers the Nays? Fun to see this on here :)

  7. I really enjoyed this post! The pictures are stunning! I wish I could stop by and take a look around! :) I especially appreciate what you said about authenticity. I find myself more concerned about what others think of me and, honestly, I have a hard time even knowing who I am. Thank you for the encouragement to just live and be me. :)

  8. I love her words, they really spoke to the heart. I’m gonna have to go back and re-read this a few times just to make sure its embedded in my mind.

    Re:curfew. I don’t have teenagers yet, but as a teen myself I never had a curfew. Now, I did live on a farm and my dads rule was that I had to get up at 7 the next morning (on weekends!!!) for chores and he expected a full hard days work out of me whether I had 2 minutes of sleep or 8 hours. There would be no slacking, no napping at lunch, and no whining or complaining about how tired I was. I soon realized that a)nothing worth staying up for happened after 12:30/1 am, and b)it SUCKED dragging my butt outta bed after only being in it for 3 or 4 hours.
    THEN! And this probably pleased my parents greatly but then I got a boyfriend (who is now my husband) just before my 17th birthday and he had a curfew of midnight. He lived 30 minutes away so I was always home before 11:30. This obviously won’t work for all families especially if you don’t have a job at age 14-19 like I did that required early mornings, hard labor and long days. I’ve got about 10 years before I have to start thinking about this again though!

  9. Thanks so much for this: “I find it mandatory in the age of social media overstimulation curation to find your style, stick with it, get settled, then live your life.” I get so caught up in all of the pins and posts that I find it causes anxiety. I need to get on with living my life too.

  10. I spent my teenage years living on the other side of Timp and I just have to say you probably have the most unique house I’ve ever seen in Utah. It’s amazing!

  11. Krista Hansen

    I’ve been down your slide!! We saw your home at the Parade of Homes too. How fun! Beautiful home and beautiful, thoughtful words. I’m from Provo and my curfew was always midnight on weekends and 10pm on a weeknight. I could usually get a 1am extension for things like Prom or New Years. I’m not looking forward to having teenagers. Although being out of the potty training stage does sound wonderful! There are hard things at every stage for sure!!

  12. omg Jane!!! I’ve been to your house, but I love looking at these pics! The great thing is, you have successfully managed a gorgeous, styled house that is also livable, and relatable. Thank you so much for your friendship, and your graciousness. Proud to have Interwoven pieces in there as well. Congrats on the feature!! xo

  13. When I was a senior in high school (about 10 years ago), my curfew was midnight. Seemed fairly reasonable at the time :)

  14. Growing up my curfew was 10:59. Yep, 10:59. So with my now 17, 16, 14, and 12 year olds I am more relaxed. On school nights Everyone is home at dinner time, unless it’s a special occasion. For weekends, depending on what they are doing, who they are doing it with and where they’re doing it, etc…we’ll settle on a time. I usually ask what time they’re thinking and we go from there. And they can always text and ask for more time. Our rule is to be informed of location changes. And we encourage lots of friend time at our house. My husband and I go out a lot but we try to make sure we are home some on the weekend so their friends can come over for games or movies. I know their friends and they know us. My husband and I both grew up in Utah and found like you said, there are just more kids there who avoid the drugs, alcohol etc… We’re Army so we don’t live there and the kids have found a few good kids where ever we have been, but especially as they’ve started dating I wish there were more kids that avoided the drugs, alcohol, etc…
    Beautiful home by the way.

  15. What an usual style–industrial, steampunk, minimalist. And that deck! I could hang there. Thanks for sharing.

    As for curfew, my son is still little, so I don’t have practical experience yet. However, I heard a funny strategy once that stuck with me. The parents set a LOUD alarm clock (maybe in the kitchen?) to go off at the time of curfew. The teenager had to get home and turn off the alarm clock before it went off and woke the parents. That way the parents could go to bed and not have to wait up for the teenager to come home. Haha!

    Although, I’m not sure what would stop the teenager from turning off the alarm clock and then going back out again. It seems like the parents would have to wake up and check on the teen even if the alarm got shut off properly. So, even with teenagers, it appears that there is no sleeping through the night, huh? Did anyone have parents that tried this method of curfew keeping???

  16. I find it disappointing that kids don’t know how to have fun without alcohol and other worse JUNK. My coworker told me her straight A student daughter attends a major state U and was teased for her lack of desire to party. (As Mormons, we are used to this, but she isn’t Mormon.) She is on a full ride though so she needs to stick it out, but I wonder how great her experience will be in a toxic atmosphere. I grew up in Utah and you can find it all, but you still have to fight to keep your standards intact.

    Great Home! We are moving our family closer to Utah in the next few months and I waffle between a safe home (average-nice home) to doing something awesome and design oriented. I’m not a perfectionist though so I worry I could give up before the end product. ….or worse run out of $$.

  17. What a beautiful home!

    As far as curfew goes, I don’t have parenting experience but I just graduated college so my curfew days aren’t THAT long ago. My brother and I had a general curfew of around midnight (sometimes a little earlier or later depending on the circumstances). Our last year of school and the summers prior and after it, we were given “free reign with guidance”. We could be home anytime as long as we were home by the time we mentioned AND if we had any problems at home or school because of it, our curfew would be re-evaluated. The other rule, for both curfews, was that if something came up (car broke down, wanted to stay out 30 min later, etc,) we had to call at least 1 minute prior to curfew to explain. Every minute late that we hadn’t pre-discussed to arrival, we had to do 10 laps on the stairs. (Strict but it worked! 1 minute wasn’t bad but mornings after 5…well…you learn quickly.) Now, my brother still had a few arguments with my parents but it overall worked.

    This said, it wasnt always followed to a T and was personalized per kid. One of us tended to make better decisions and was given a little “less guidance” than the other. The only rules followed 100% always were the calling home and laps on the stairs.

    I think the real key is realizing you’re raising future adults, not children. My parents gave us independence a bit at a time so we would have practice being aadults (with some guidance) BEFORE college and so they could trust our judgements prior to letting us practice being adults.

    1. I also have to note, it seemed to work out. We’ve both transitioned into being relatively well adjusted, trustworthy young adults. We’re not perfect but to my knowledge, we havent had any major issues.

  18. I would love to know more about your kitchen table. Is that the one that your husband built? As a mama of 4, we function in survival mode here too-thanks for sharing!

  19. LOVE this house, it is incredible! I love the eclectic feel. As for the curfew, we have a 16 year old and I have her home between 11-11:30. I don’t think much good happens after midnight. ;) Plus I like it that she can actually wake up in the morning and doesn’t need to stay in bed all day to catch up on her sleep. Every year I raise the kids curfew by a ½ an hour, depending on their age. There are sometimes exceptions, but she is actually really good at getting home on time.

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