Reader Design: Ashlee's Calm & Comfy Home

After a bit of a hiatus on these reader design features, we're back and headed to sunny California! Ashlee is a sweet mother-to-be and talented interior design who draws inspiration from the calm and comfortable Sacramento surroundings.

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From Ashlee:

I’m a true California girl, and my personal style and interiors style, I think, are a reflection of that. I would have to say one geographic place that describes my homes aesthetic would be Venice or Ojai, just that simple modern California feel. I love evoking feelings of calm and comfort. I want my home to be a place where people just want to hang out for long periods of time and can truly zen out.
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The home is classic and soothing, but still entirely on trend without it being too much. That's the California way, isn't it?

I have to admit I have dabbled in a few trends myself. Brass being one that is seen in my space. When making the decision to add some more trendier elements in my house that I know may not be around forever I kept it to a few select things (lighting, coffee table). It is easy to get carried away, but if you keep them to a few select items you can always switch them out later.
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Amongst the brass and plants are plenty of older and vintage touches. Take the dining room for instance.

While not a piece of furniture, the built-in element of our apartment is a total favorite. The building we live in is over 100 years old and recently went through a complete renovation. They kept the charm of the molding, built-ins, and doors that I truly love and appreciate. Plus I fill it with treasures that represent us as a couple.
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It's a home that's as classic today as it would have been years ago - and will for years to come. Ashlee, thank you for letting us in and showing us around!

Follow Ashlee along on Instagram at @ashlee_berry. And for more gorgeous photos, follow photographer Nicole at @nicoledianne.

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Life in Progress || 2017/2018

Another school year come and (almost) gone and so much to reflect on! Back in the day I used to use this blog as a sort of diary, but in these most recent years since the kids have all been in school, I've had a difficult time processing all the big feelings with words. And I'm okay with that! One of the biggest changes I've noticed in myself over this season of life has been the desire/preference to quietly reflect on things. A verse that has been really helpful for me in this has been Luke 2:19, after Jesus was born and the shepherds, who had seen the baby, were sharing the news with others: "But Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart." In many ways I've been doing just that; pondering things in my heart like a private treasure chest.

But there's something about documenting things through words, if you can, that provides a wonderful avenue for perspective. When I look back on old posts, both here and my private journal, it's remarkable to see how the Lord worked various situations out and answered deep, meaningful prayers that felt so big at the time.

Here is an excerpt from this post written when my three babes started full day school for the first time back in September 2015:

I'm feeling that same crisis welling up again; I'm a mother but my babes will not be with me day in and day out anymore. The weight of responsibility to care for them |during the day| has been lifted from my shoulders. What does one do when they're used to carrying such a weight and it's gone just like that? What fills the space? As fast as my hands were full, they're empty again.

With a few elementary school years under my belt I can honestly say there is still that sense of feeling left behind when the kids board the bus each morning. I miss them. But as for what fills that time when they're gone? God took care of that tenfold.

First of all, I had this preconceived notion that the school, any school, would not welcome parents into their community - that parents would be asked to 'step aside' so the kids would have the opportunity to bloom and stretch their own wings. I've never been so grateful to be wrong in my life!!! Our school is nestled in a neighborhood, it's not very big, and is family friendly in every way. Not only have I felt welcomed to be there, but encouraged to visit, stop in for lunch with my kids, volunteer and enjoy being present. I never in a million years imagined how much I would desire or enjoy volunteering at my kids' school. But I never imagined how much of a heart change Colin, Shire, and Mason would cause, and getting the opportunity to help their school in any way I can is such a treat. There is always something going on and always something to be a part of. I don't think I'm involved in even a fraction of what goes on in their sweet school, but I jump on the opportunities I'm able. (And by the way, if you are not in this phase of life yet just know that there will be parents that seem like they are involved in everything and there will be those who make sure everyone knows it. Chin up. This journey is no one else's but yours and only a competition to those with a narrow lens.)

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So I'm not as distant from the babes as I thought I would be in this chapter of motherhood. What a blessing! But God has also provided so much opportunity to grow StyleMutt Home, my head is spinning. Since making the conscious decision to transition from refinishing furniture to exploring interior design, business has grown on top of business. Over this past school year alone I have gotten to experience working for a corporate rentals company, seek, interview and hire a design assistant, (you can meet Joy here!), work on 18 individual design projects, and see our very first design project printed on the glossy pages of a magazine, (you can see our feature in Small Space Makeovers on newsstands now)! Let me tell you, these opportunities have taken me aback. It's hard to wrap my mind around how we got here with work lined up and a design assistant we love. 100% God's provision. I've never taken a design course and it wasn't even a career, (much less a hobby!), I was interested in 10 years ago. I didn't grow up having that clear of an idea of what I wanted to do when I grew up, (other than be an Olympian and a jockey in the Kentucky Derby, of course). So it's very hard to understand why and how these things are happening - I feel so undeserving. And incredibly grateful.

Below: Our 8 page spread in Small Space Makevoers, and a client's shot of our progress on their home:

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This has been the most challenging year yet for me in terms of life balance. I am all-in as a Mother; I want to be present in my kids' lives wherever there is a place for me. And I am all-in as a business owner. I think of StyleMutt Home as a gift that has been given to Cate and me, and I want to take care of it responsibly and carefully. And to clarify, my husband Matt is frankly the best part of every day, but he doesn't get home until the dust of the day has settled. When he walks through the door there isn't a lot else going on at that time. The pull I'm speaking about specifically is really condensed during the day while he is at work. There are two big circles I am trying to keep a foot firmly planted in during the day: The stay-at-home parent raising their family and home to the best of their abilities, (meal planning, shopping, cooking, volunteering time to help where needed, managing the responsibilities of a home owner, managing the schedule of the entire family and getting them to activities and appointments on-time, and so on). And the working parent and business owner who manages the inner workings of a business as well as the work of the business itself. When the whole thing is yours to lose there is no clocking out; it's a constant presence on your mind and heart.

So that's been the 2017/2018 school year in a nutshell. I started this school year reading Psalm 121 with the kids every morning during breakfast, and at this point in June, we are still reflecting on it:

I lift up my eyes to the hills-- where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip-- he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you-- the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm-- he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

I didn't know what this year would hold but God directed us to this particular verse for a reason before it all began. As much as we have going on, I am quite happy to not have control over any of it. Being a steward of something given to you is one thing. Being the sole party responsible for the health of those things is entirely different. My constant peace and relief is knowing that God is the manager of all.

To finish with a bit of shop talk, we are hoping to have some magnificent design reveals coming soon! Cate and my brother Caleb just moved to their first home and have been busy, busy bees, nesting and making it their own. I have a stack of client design projects that are turning the corner to completion this month and I cannot wait to take pictures to share with you!

Thank you all so much for stopping by today! As a dear family friend says, "Adventure on!"

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Reader Design: Lisa's Scandinavian Style

Let's take a field trip to Canada and Lisa's neutral, simple, and modern home. It's the kind of place where you can relax but also feel like you're in an upscale hotel - possibly one situated in an urban Scandinavian city. 

Growing up I spent a lot of time in Denmark visiting family, and I was definitely influenced by their modern, simplistic and practical style. I remember being surprised by the bright, open spaces and simple decor. It contrasted so much with our own 80’s home that seemed dark and congested in comparison. I haven’t been back in ages, and now that I have a better understanding of modern design I think I would be in heaven.
 
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Sometimes Scandinavian or minimal style can read as cold, but Lisa still finds a way to make it warm and inviting for her family. 

More than anything I want my home to be a comfortable and inviting place for my family. I don’t think we get that feeling when a space is visually cluttered. On the other hand, too few things can make a place seem sterile, so I try to create balance by adding warm, natural elements like wood, leather, plants and textiles. I also prefer a neutral colour palate which creates a sense of calm. I recently purchased a couple of rugs for my home and they both have a rich colour to them, but work well with the surrounding neutrals. Textiles and artwork are two categories where I will make an exception to the no-colour rule.
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I try to avoid anything too trendy, preferring instead to invest in pieces that have been around for decades and have staying power. Also, for me, design has to be practical first, then stylish, not the other way around. I once purchased some gorgeous bedside sconces from a well known company, but when I turned them on they cast such a harsh light in the room. I was sad to return them, but there was no question about it.
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Morale of the story? Focus on timelessness, balance, and authenticity in the design. You will not get it right on the first try, but that's why stores have return policies, right? And eventually, you'll strike the perfect match with pieces like last, like this 85-year old Iranian bedroom rug from @rugandweave.

Great work, Lisa! You'll clearly created a home that works for your family - and that's quite the accomplishment! Thanks for the tour. 

Follow Lisa along on Instagram @lisafogt for more great design!

See you next week,

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