Do you have a million things you’ve always wanted to go do, visit, or see, but never seem to find the time? This is the story of my life. I was particularly feeling this way after having my daughter Amelia in 2012. I had just quit my full time job to be a stay home mom and I thought I would have more time for the things I really wanted to do. But, I found with a newborn and all of the other duties I had, I would have to make things a priority in order to get them done.
So, one day I needed to get out of the house; I packed my car with all of Amelia’s crap and we drove around the area and looked at beautiful homes. There is an area south of me called the “Bountiful Bench” and it’s full of large expensive houses. I drove around wanting to admire great design, architecture and style. After several hours of doing this, I felt kind of down. Not that I didn’t have a great time, but the reality sunk in that the chances of me ever owning a home like those homes was a big fat zero. Feeling blue, I treated myself to an ice cream cone and while eating that delicious root beer flavored cone, I realized those homes are big, beautiful, and amazing, but unattainable for most people. 99.9% of the people in this world will never be able to own a home like those 5,00-10,000 square ft homes I was going gaga over.
Doesn’t it bug you whenever you flip through House Beautiful, Better Homes and Garden, Architecture Digest, or Domino most of what you see are giant homes that probably cost over a million dollars? This bothered me because like I mentioned the VAST majority of us will never be able to own a home that expensive, so why are we celebrating and featuring that small percentage of people’s homes? Don’t get me started on the Parade of Homes here in Utah. Yes, it’s fun to tour them, but seriously they’re not realistic for most of us.
I’m a strong believer that no matter how small your home or budget is, you can live in a beautiful place. Yes, you might have to be more creative and thrifty but I feel those two characteristics create more beautiful things. After watching the documentary Tiny (it’s on Netflix and it’s really good), about a guy who builds himself a 250 square foot home makes me realize what I really want out of this life. Do I want to live a life where I’m working 60+ hours a week trying to pay for a large home? Or, would I rather live within my means and have the time to do the things I want to pursue; spend time with my kids, husband, travel, and create and make memories? I wish I could have a little bit of both but the reality is I won’t. Having an average home with beautiful design is so much more important to me than having the nicest and biggest house in the neighborhood.
To carry out this way of thinking I decided to start (BAHT) Beautiful Attainable Home Tour where every month I’m going to feature homes that aren’t mansions, don’t cost a million, that are attainable for most Americans, but more importantly have amazing and smart style and design.
My first feature is a girl who I admire because she has a fearless sense of style. Her name is Amy and she’s one of Melanie’s roommates from BYU. Amy is as beautiful and creative as they come, and she has used her ingenuity to make her home her own style.
My name is Amy Peterson. I’m a mother of 2 kids, an artist and overall ‘crafty’person. With regards to our home, it must be said that my husband owned this house when I met him so the glory goes all to him. When I met him, he had already bought it from the original owner – his grandfather – on a handshake. Yep, people still do that!
Tons of his family members still drop in to reminisce about who slept where, the wild things grandma Lucy would say, and the delicious raspberries that grew across the stream. The whole Peterson clan really does treat this house as a touchstone for the family.
Because of this, I was initially worried about drastically changing things. However my husband gave me fearless free-range and, starting with the exterior, I began updating the house.
We’ve done so many things in the past five years it seems crazy to me as I write it out. With regards to the outdoors, we started by completely re-doing the landscaping and the vegetable garden. We had to customize the sprinkler system to water new areas and block off other areas.
We’ve added a deck on the back of the house – built by EkkerDesign.com – and put up a new fence along the backyard. And, my Dad built a new bridge across the stream. (Mill Creek runs directly through our backyard.)
We’ve painted every surface of the house, both inside and out – some more then once! We’ve added a new pergola and entrance gate and created new front steps with red sandstone rock once used as foundation for a turn-of-the-century home and originally quarried in Red Butte. We did a total remodel the downstairs bathroom, spruced up the upstairs bathroom, and gave the kitchen a complete facelift. And we put in large windows throughout the basement for better light (and safety).
Then of course there’s the unglamorous but important improvements like a new roof, moving and updating of the AC and furnace units, new plumbing in the front of the house and basement, etc.
The list never ends right? Any homeowner knows what I’m talking about. I’ve even rearranged the furniture and taken out the entryway storage since these photos were taken. (Confession: I am a compulsive furniture re-arranger.)
As our family has grown, so have our dreams for the home. We would like to of blow out the back of the house and add large picture windows. We want to connect the house to the garage and turn the garage into a master bathroom / bedroom or perhaps make it an art studio. This would provide a view up and down the creek. Because the creek truly is the gem of the whole property.
Yes the best thing about our home, the thing I love the most, is that Mill Creek runs through our backyard. My kids and neighbor kids play in it. My husband catches trout in it, and I love to listen to its calming, constant low rush. I also love it because my husband and I dug out that patio by ourselves, then stood out on that same spot the following summer and said our ‘I Do’s’.
As far as my design / decorating styles go, I would say It took me a long time to really hone my style. When owning a home for the first time you really get to spread your wings, and I was flying all over the place. But the more effort I put into it, the more I realize I’m consistently drawn to clean lines and cool color palettes – mixed with the richness of wood, plants and found objects. I would call it organic modern with a dash of eclectic. I have tried to stick with the mid-century spirit of the house and just modernize that a bit. My husband already had an incredible collection of mid-century furniture and we just went from there. It is a great framework for layering on other styles and also retains a masculine, grounded feel to a room.
My husband provides that masculine side to my need to be able to layer on the froufrou …you know, the pillows, vases, sheep skins, etc. I would have to say I started to learn from my favorite designer Emily Henderson.
When I first found her, she seemed to have the show secrets from a professional designer. And I love the way she develops a couples style by using the personality of both husband and wife, and combining them into a great shared space. I don’t know about you, but my husband has opinions about the space he lives in and while he can’t always speak interior design, he has great taste and gives me a thumbs up or down.
Another reason I love Emily Henderson is that she constantly designs rooms where I think, “I would live there!” In my opinion she designs rooms that are attainable and live-able. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Elle Decor or Architectural Digest, but I don’t have that budget and I have peanut-butter- handed, marker-wielding children.
So I just try to keep it beautiful and functional. I find things at thrift stores and estate sales. I then work in some of my own art and DIYs. Then I hit a Target or Home Goods and violá! – somehow it’s a completely original and livable space. Amazing!
(I’m not getting paid for those retail plugs – that’s just who I like and where I shop.)
Take care & love the place you live.