Every once in a while, a former home tour guide checks in with a note that they’ve moved or redecorated or added a baby and finally there’s a girl in the house! And sometimes, there’s a note from one whose life turned a little sideways for a while but she’s happy to report she’s right side up again. That’s when I clap silently at my desk and offer up a “Yay, you!”
It is always good to check in on each other. I was especially pleased when Wendy did, and I know you will be, too. Hers was a popular, much Pinterested home tour! Yet somehow, this one seems even more fabulous. There are built-in bunks and a turquoise shade that makes me crave a turquoise wall. Come see, and please help me welcome back Wendy!
I am so glad to be back here on Design Mom sharing my new house with all of you! A lot has changed since the last time I visited, so let me re-introduce myself and my family. I am Wendy Hyde, an interior designer, blogger, and single mom of four amazing kids. Yes, single mom. More on that in a minute.
My oldest son is a sophomore in high school, an amazing film maker, and a talented violinist. My daughter is in junior high. She is good and kind. She loves to dance and can often be found tumbling in the living room. And I have two little boys only 18 months apart. The older of the two is in fourth grade. He is sensitive, but quick-witted and hilarious. He wants to be an author and illustrator when he grows up, and I have no doubt that he will be! And then there’s my youngest who is in third grade and loves sports of all kinds. He is full of energy and humor, and he keeps us all on our toes.
All three of my boys have been diagnosed with a genetic liver disease called Alpha 1 Antitrypsin Deficiency which currently has no cure. Although this disease can be devastating, we have been extremely lucky in that all three boys are basically healthy. Aside from our annual trips to the local children’s hospital for blood work and ultrasounds to check on the status of their livers, the disease doesn’t greatly affect our day to day lives. The realization that we are indeed very lucky that they are healthy gives me an increased gratitude for each and every day with my kiddos, and keeps me from ever taking this time for granted.
One of the biggest changes that has occurred since the last time I visited here is that I am now a single mom. I do not believe divorce is always the best option. And I avoided it for many years because I honestly wanted to make my marriage work. But there came a point when I realized that divorce was quite truthfully the best option for my family. Thankfully, our divorce has been a friendly one.
And although I won’t say that it has been easy, things are better. Life is full of hope and we are happy.
When my children were little, we lived in Massachusetts. We owned a home there that we purchased right before the big real estate crash of 2007. Luckily, the real estate value where we lived stayed reasonably stable and we were able to sell that home after a couple of years before moving back to Utah in 2010. Since then, our family has lived in a rental home, and more recently in a rented townhouse.
After my recent divorce, the one thing I longed for more than anything was a place for my children to feel secure and settled. I wanted them to be able to have a house that they could look back on fondly as their childhood home: a place that would always be the house they grew up in.
I lived in the same house my entire childhood. My parents live there still. I wanted that same sense of stability for my own children.
When I purchased this house, just over a year ago, I wanted to give it a name. I’ve always wanted to live in a house with a name! I guess it stems from my love of all things English, and the fact that I’m a huge Jane Austen fan. So after much deliberation the kids and I decided to call it Hydeaway Cottage. Hydeaway is, of course, a play on our last name. But it is also a reflection of the fact that this home is a haven for us, a place where we can enjoy our time as a family and hide away from the stresses of life.
Our house is in a sweet little neighborhood that the locals refer to as The Cottages. It is a cluster of quaint, small homes which, rather than facing the street, face into a large, green common area. On one of the first nights after we moved in last year, all of the neighborhood kids, regardless of age, were playing a huge game of freeze tag on the grassy common between the houses. I watched them laughing, screaming, and running as the sun started setting, and I literally shed tears of joy because this was exactly what I had wanted for my children: a place where they could experience the joys of childhood as I remembered them.
And if I had any doubts before, they disappeared at that moment because I knew we were home.
On a more practical note, I decided to purchase our house in the same town where we had previously been renting. We only moved about a mile from the townhouse where we were living, so my kids were able to stay in the same schools and keep the same friendships and activities that they had become accustomed to. My office is only about a mile away from our house as well which makes my commute enviable!
Our town is approximately mid-way between the two major cities on the Wasatch Front (the main corridor in Utah) which makes it just about perfect as far as locations go. In the four years we have lived in our little town, it has grown quickly with tons of commerce and businesses moving in, but it has — so far, at least — managed to maintain its small town feel which was the reason I fell in love with it in the first place.
The growth of this area has been such that the town is building a second high school slated to open in the fall of next year. After buying our home and setting down roots here, I have a lovely sense of ownership in this community and I am probably as excited as the kids to watch this new high school open and to have my own children be a part of its inaugural class. It’s an amazing sense of community!
I work as an interior designer for the home builder who built my house. Rather than going through the building process myself, however, I purchased what is referred to as a quick-move-in or an available home. It was built before I started working for this particular home builder, and hadn’t been purchased in over a year. I think that’s because it was waiting for my family!
The footprint of the house is small, but it is charming and I knew it would be the perfect place for us. Because my specialty is new construction design, but I wasn’t the one who chose the finishes in this house, there are certain things I’d like to change to fit with my own personal aesthetic. So I am slowly, but surely, making changes as my budget allows. So far, I have switched out all of the standard lighting for new custom fixtures, I have added a wall of wainscoting to give personality to the main living space, and added a built-in bunk bed/desk combo in my little boys’ bedroom.
My future plans include painting out the dark cabinetry in the kitchen so that it matches the white kitchen island (I’ve always been a fan of a classic white kitchen) and adding a marble subway tile backsplash. I’d also love to replace the main floor carpet with hardwood, to add a fireplace, and to add a few built-ins scattered here and there throughout the house.
As for décor, I wanted this house to be a fresh start. But my budget prevented me from starting completely over with furnishings. This house is larger than our previous townhouse but the layout is so different, and I actually had to sell off some of my larger pieces because they simply would not fit in the new space.
My idea was to reinvent the remaining pieces that I brought with me, and to add a few new pieces to freshen it up. Luckily, my sofas are slipcovered, so I was easily able to change them from a linen color to a charcoal gray which made a huge difference in the feel of the space. My father built a rustic dining table for me not long before we moved to the new house. I was really afraid it might not fit in the new dining area and was relieved when it did! I paired it with a pretty settee for a bit of a high-meets-low look.
I find it so interesting, as a designer, how different the same furniture can look in two different spaces with just a few small tweaks. And although I know it will change as time goes on because I am fickle when it comes to décor, it’s been fun to pull this space together.
My professional life is busy! Not only have I been writing my blog, The Shabby Nest , for the past seven years, but as I mentioned, I work as an interior designer for a large home builder here in Utah. I have also recently completed my first interior design book, Decorating For Real Life, which was released in October of last year.
And about the blog! I have recently added a new weekly feature on The Shabby Nest called Thin For You Thursday. During the past two-and-a-half years while I was going through the stress and difficulty of divorce, I gained weight. And I have had a difficult time taking it off. While my younger sister was visiting me from out of state this summer, we were discussing how hard weight loss can be — especially once you’ve hit that magical age of 40 and your metabolism all but stops! We thought it would be fun to start a weekly column on my blog for other women who might be struggling with the same issue.
One of the biggest indicators of success in weight loss is having a support system and that’s what we’re hoping Thin For You Thursday will become. We want it to be a place where weight loss can be realistic and healthy and where we celebrate even the tiniest victories. Weight loss is hard. But we hope that this column can help to make it a bit more bearable.
Phew! That’s a lot! But I love having a lot on my plate. And I am grateful that I can be an example to my children of what determination and hard work can accomplish.
My favorite part of living in Hydeaway Cottage with my children is the fact that we all feel completely at home here. Our house has a personality that echoes who we are and it makes me truly happy. I love the fact that we are creating magical memories that will define my children’s youth.
For instance, every night after I tuck my little boys into bed, I sit on the floor near their beds and read to them. Right now we are in the middle of the Harry Potter series. It has taken us the better part of a year, and we are on book six. I love sitting with them, watching them listen and then slowly drift off to sleep. It will be a memory I will always cherish.
But even as we are creating these memories, I already miss having all of my children under one roof since I know that the years we have left together — as we are now — are growing short. My oldest son is in high school, and will be heading off to college before I know it. I look forward to creating many more memories in this house and soaking in each and every day that we have here together here as our little family.
If my kids can have one memory of me during this time in our lives, I hope they remember that I don’t take myself too seriously. I love to laugh. And I love to make them laugh. And the laughter that we share within the walls of our home — and there is a lot of it — is something I cherish.
I work hard and I am happy to do it. I want them to know that I am grateful to have the opportunity to create a wonderful life for them. But I also want them to know that happiness (and laughter) is important!
I wish someone had told me that although being a single parent is scary…and hard…I could and would be happy doing it. I have learned through this experience that I believe in myself in a way I never thought possible. And although it is not the path I had envisioned, or one I would have necessarily chosen, I wouldn’t change the lessons I am learning from it for the world.
Thank you, Wendy! I know there are probably a few readers doing the happy clap at their desks, too! Your home — and your new life — are quite lovely. Oh, that turquoise.
It’s hard to divulge the not-so-pretty aspects of our homes, isn’t it? But I think when we’re straight with each other, life is better.
“Hey. I went through this,” one of us says. “Me, too,” chimes in another. And another and another and another. And all of a sudden, it’s not so lonely or hard anymore. I do love it when it all works like this, don’t 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 know! We 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.