When I was ten, my parents moved my siblings and I to Ohio for my father’s job. My parents bought a house built in 1931 that comfortably had the living space for a family of six, but needed quite a bit of work to say the least. Throughout the years, there were kitchen renovations, bathroom remodels, landscaping projects, just to name a few, that were all done in such a way as to honor both our family and the home.
We were young, newly married, and looking for a starter home. We both had gotten jobs in Ohio, my husband in sports management and myself a position as a first grade teacher. Neither one of us were that familiar with the area which explains why when our realtor asked about neighborhoods we would be interested in we mentioned one well out of our price range.
After a few discussions about what we were looking for and our budget, our realtor mentioned a neighborhood that had tree lined streets, old homes, and character. Those words were music to my ears. We spent a number of days looking at these old homes, but were disappointed by the updates many of them had seen over the years. Homes built in 1922 had additions added on over time that did not suit the time period or home itself.
After seeing quite a few houses, our realtor drove into what was to become our driveway. I can remember falling in love with the charm of the front of the house, the original oak floors, and the large backyard. There were definitely many projects to be done, like ripping out wall to wall — it literally went up a wall — brown shag carpet from the sunroom, but it felt like home. It felt like a place we could start a family.
Our daughter was our first child to call this house a home. The 1,500 square foot floor plan worked well for our family of three. The sunroom became the playroom and the third bedroom that functioned as an office became the nursery. Once our second child, a son, was born we knew it was time to move or come up with a plan for this home if we wanted to stay.
I am so glad we decided to come up with a plan. The must-haves for staying in the home involved a kitchen/dining addition, a master bedroom with bathroom addition, first floor laundry addition, and renovation of the old kitchen into a mudroom.
It took nine long months, but was well worth it in the end. We added about 1,000 square feet and use every inch of it. The added space really helped once we added our third child, another boy, into the mix.
Once our daughter was born, we decided it would make the most sense for me to stay home. My daughter and my days were filled with adventures at times, but they mostly involved simple things like playing in the playroom together. Having the playroom on the first floor and near the kitchen is one of the best decisions we made as new parents. It allows the children to be near us and feel safe, while they are playing independently or alongside one another.
After the renovation, the playroom actually became attached to the kitchen and I truly enjoy listening to them play — if they aren’t arguing! — while I cook and clean in the kitchen. It is funny to look back on when I only had one child and remember the type of parent I was at the time. I used to go in the playroom at the end of the evening and clean up the toys and set the dollhouse up room by room.
Today, after three children, the mess sits until I announce that it is time to clean, and donate old toys. It is funny how much you can change throughout the years in the same role, but in different phases.
When we were renovating the house in 2009 I can honestly say one of the projects I was most excited about was the mudroom. Having a designated place for shoes, book bags, and sporting equipment was exciting to me. It wasn’t in the budget to have built-ins made at the time, so my husband made a coat rack using instructions I found in an issue of This Old House magazine.
As far as a place to sit was concerned, I wanted to use a bench that my father and his siblings sat on for all their meals on the family farm in Holland. He had had it shipped to the States years ago and I absolutely loved its story. We decided to do the built-in project recently, so now the bench sits on one side of the kitchen table where our three children sit and eat their meals.
Almost a year after I had my third child, I felt this strong need to create and teach, largely due to my degree in education and because of my passion for the home. I wanted to find a way to combine the two together.
My answer was to bravely post my first picture on Instagram. I didn’t tell anyone, it was out of the blue, but I felt that I had something to say. I had been encouraged by family, friends, and even mothers in the parking lot after school who had design questions to start a blog. Seven months after that first Instagram post I launched House 214 Design, my home design website. It is my platform where I teach the everyday home designer the feeling of home and that the feeling we create in our home is our story.
What I understand now that I didn’t before, regarding my work, is that when you love what you do the drive you have is unstoppable and you will find a way to keep moving forward. I wake up before the rest of the house wakes up to learn, I listen to podcasts in the car and when I cook and clean to learn, and I read any spare moment I have to learn.
Do I get tired? Yes, but I am loving every moment of it. I think that after staying home almost 13 years now, it is good for the children to see me have a strong drive and work ethic for something. It is good for them to see me work hard, solve problems, and want to learn.
Everything I learn I put back into our home. I want our children to remember a feeling, the feeling that I am so passionate about, when they think of their childhood and this home.
Whether they are leaving the house and confronted with a difficult test that day, having a hard time with friends in high school, or leaving to be on their own for the first time, I want them to close their eyes and think of this home. I want the hurt, uncertainty, and worry to be replaced with love, joy, and a sense of calm.
My hope is that you see a bit of my story in the feeling you take away from visiting my home. A feeling that will start you on the path to telling your own story in your home.