Wendy knows how difficult it is to turn a temporary rental house into a never-want-to-leave home. All of us living in rented spaces know this, don’t we? Sometimes, it’s just easier to leave things the same and spend the time and money elsewhere, starting sentences and someday plans with “When we get our own home…” But whether it’s her innate sense of style, her decorating skill, or her husband’s perspective-changing accident that fuels her, Wendy has decided not to press pause on this time and space in their lives. Friends, Wendy’s hitting play. And, boy, does she play well…with colors and patterns and high-end ideas that would feel right at home on magazine pages. Welcome to Wendy’s anything-but-shabby nest!
Q: Tell us all about the family who makes this house a home.
A: There’s my husband, John, who is a photographer with an amazing eye. He’s also very handy, which is great when I need help with my endless DIY list! Then there’s me. I’m an interior designer and blogger who loves to decorate and redecorate our space; thankfully, my family doesn’t mind too much.
Finally, there are our four munchkins: three Lego-loving boys ages 12, six, and five, and our dance-obsessed nine year old daughter. Our family is loud, full of energy, and crazy-in-a-good-way. And I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Q: Where does your home live?
A: We moved to our home in a suburb of Salt Lake City, Utah after my husband was in a serious car accident that nearly claimed his life. It turned our world upside down. We needed to find a rental house, and this home was a true gift during a time when our family was struggling.
Our landlords have very graciously allowed us to make alterations to the home. As an insatiable decorator tweaker DIYer, this has been an amazing blessing for me. I believe in blooming where you are planted, and I’ve made every effort to make this house a warm, welcoming, and beautiful home for our family.
Q: Your home has such bold graphic details. There’s pattern and color everywhere! You’ve got skill, Wendy! What are your top tips on incorporating strong design statements throughout your home while still maintaining an overall quiet, calm aesthetic? Because it’s not chaotic at all!
A: Thank you! I have always considered myself to be a neutral girl when it comes to my own personal decor. But lately, I have come to really love pattern and to embrace color in a way that I haven’t previously. That said, I couldn’t move away from my love of neutrals entirely, and I think that is why I have been able to successfully integrate such a variety of colors and patterns into my current decor.
I feel that the key to incorporating color and pattern in a home is to begin with a neutral backdrop. When you look at my home, you’ll notice that the main furniture pieces and the wall colors tend to be whites, tans, and grays. This creates a quiet background on which I can layer color and pattern. I love to be able to incorporate a variety of color and multiple patterns into a single space, and the neutral backdrop allows me to do so without overpowering the space.
My best advice is to trust your eye when it comes to combining color and pattern. If something looks off, it probably is. So remove it and try again. It really is just that simple.
Q: What’s your general philosophy on living with kids? How do you blend their style with yours? How do you give them a voice in the decor that surrounds them?
A: Although I love a well-designed and beautiful space, I decided long ago that I didn’t want my home to be a museum. I wanted my children to know that they are welcome in their own home. Yet I believe that it is important for children to learn to respect the things in their home. My children know that there are certain items in our house that are not to be played with, and that they need to treat certain areas of the home with respect.
But I wanted the kids to have a say in the decor in their bedrooms and so we collaborated on those rooms. I talked to them much the way I would talk to one of my clients to find out what they wanted in their rooms as far as colors or themes, and then we worked together to create spaces that would make all of us happy.
Q: Tell us your best advice for organizing collections…
A: Organizing collections can be very tricky. I do not like clutter. My kids don’t mind it so much. I feel that collections should be carefully curated and artfully displayed. The kids just like to collect. So my advice on the subject is to display what you love in a way that makes your heart happy.
For me, that means that I choose my favorite pieces and display them together in a visually pleasing way. For my kids, that means that they create a somewhat chaotic, constantly evolving group (read that as pile!) of items they love. And I take a deep breath and appreciate the fact that they are creative.
Q: Describe your favorite part of your day. Where in your home are you spending it and what are you doing?
A: My favorite part of the day is when we sit down together to eat dinner as a family. I love the chance for open communication that a family meal provides. We each take turns telling our “best things” and “worst things” that happened during the day. The kiddos are great at clearing the table, and I often sit at the empty table for a few minutes after everyone has left and listen to the sounds of my family as they pursue their various activities. It makes me so grateful for each and every one of them and the blessing I have of sharing my life with them.
Q: How do you carve out a separate space and time when you work mainly from home? What are the challenges you’ve encountered?
A: I am lucky enough to be able to do the majority of my job from home, but it is not without its challenges. One of the things that I struggle with is balance. I do not want my children to remember their childhood with me sitting at a desk typing away on my computer.
Of course, sometimes that is inevitable. So what I’ve tried to do in my home is to create a workspace that is mine, but is still accessible to the family. Luckily, I’m good at working through the noise and chaos because I like the fact that I can still be a part of what is going on even when I have a deadline to meet.
Q: Tell us about a few of your home’s happy-makers…
A: Children’s spaces are my favorite types of rooms to decorate, so many of the happy spots in my home are actually the kiddos’ spaces. I love the bold blue and white striped wall in my boys’ bedroom, especially with the addition of the cardboard deer head mounted on salvaged wood.
I also love the framed Barbie fashion art above my daughter’s bed, and the happy blue and white color palette and numbered towel hooks in my kiddos’ bathroom.
Q: What is your favorite part of living with kids? What do you already miss when you think of them growing up and moving into their own lives?
A: My favorite part of living with kids is the unconditional love that they give. It makes my heart happy when I am sitting on the sofa to watch a TV show, and one of my kiddos comes and snuggles up next to me. I love cuddling with them as I tuck them in at night. I love hearing their laughter as they play together.
That’s what I think I will miss the most: the noise. The happy sounds of having a house full of children.
Q: What do you hope your kids’ childhood home and your traditions and daily style teach them? What do you hope they remember most?
A: When my children look back on their childhoods, what I really hope they remember is being happy and feeling loved. I hope that their memories of our house are ones of joy, laughter, and time spent together as a family. I think traditions are invaluable as a way to create a sense of unity in a family, and I love having special things that we do as a family that are unique and memorable for my children.
I enjoy creating beautiful spaces. But, in the end, a beautiful home means nothing if it is not filled with love.
Q: Please finish the sentence: I wish I had known…
A: …that making mistakes is okay, because success is often built on failed attempts. That being perfect is overrated. Life is messy and that’s okay. That’s how we learn and grow.
Thank you, Wendy! It’s so interesting that the children’s spaces in your home are your favorites! I, too, feel so free when I’m decorating my kids’ spaces, as though there’s an undercurrent of anything goes and the sky’s the limit adding extra energy to our ideas.
Friends, don’t you love that phrase Wendy used? Bloom where you are planted. Yes, yes, yes! Have you ever lived in a rental and made huge design changes just because you couldn’t live in it any other way? Or did you decide to save your giant plans for your own home somewhere down the line? I’d love to hear about any regrets or fantastic lessons you learned along the way!