Amber Moss Ek of oakmoss: Show & Tell Home Tour

Sheri Reed | Apr 6, 2010 Home & Garden

  • Meet Amber Moss Ek

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    Hello, Amber

    Meet Amber Moss Ek of the Etsy shop oakmoss and a blog also called oakmoss. Amber is a SAHM to a two-year old son.

    Today, Amber gives us a Show & Tell Home Tour inside her home in Everett, Washington.

    Come on inside...

  • Amber's family & home

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    Amber's Washington home

    Amber, tell us a little about your family and your home.

    My husband and I have been married for almost 7 years. We bought our home shortly after we were married. We live in Everett, WA, on a 1/4 acre lot in a 1,430 square foot home that was built in 1938.

    Our two-year old son Burl, three dogs, and 23-year old nephew also live with us. My husband and nephew own an eco-friendly insulation business, and I'm able to stay home with our son. I occasionally work as a registered veterinary nurse.

  • Decorating style

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    Living room: Second-hand paint storage cupboard rescued out of a basement of a really old house in Seattle and now used to store Amber's candle stock and some of Burl's toys

    How do you approach decorating in your home? What's the most important thing?

    I don't take a formal approach to decorating, I love antiques and family heirlooms. Comfort, although relative, is probably main factor to my decorating.

    Cleanliness is also important to both my husband and me. We don't care if things get scratched or broken, as long as our home is clean.

  • Buying second-hand

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    Master bedroom: Old dresser inherited from her mom by way of her sister; basket of raw fleece Amber's working on drop spinning; antique chair from Craigslist

    Decorating can be expensive. How do you get the most bang for your buck?
     
    I always buy second-hand. My husband is pretty fiscally conservative, so saving money is an important part of our family. Until I met him, I was terrible at saving money. I'm getting better but still need improvement. 

    I love finding things for free -- on Craigslist or from friends or on a street corner with a
    "Free" sign attached. Once you start looking, it's easy to spot a good deal.

    I grew up with my mom taking me and my sisters to second-hand stores, which I didn't start appreciating until I was older. I absolutely love shopping at thrift stores now. Not just because it's affordable, but mainly because it's one of the most ethical, eco-friendly ways to shop. You're saving things that would have otherwise ended up in landfills. Another benefit is you're able to create your own style. If I see an idea I like, I'm able to make it my own by finding similar items in the thrift stores. It's very exciting.

  • Kid stuff

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    Little Burl takes an afternoon nap

    You have a young son. How does his STUFF influence the look and feel of your home?
     
    We try to keep the things we acquire for him in harmony with what we already have. We didn't want the look and feel of our home to change drastically once we started having children. It's important to us that we provide our son with a healthy environment, free from toxins, so most of his belongings are made from natural fibers and materials.

    We wanted him to have full access to the house as well, so he could roam freely through our home. We arranged things as to eliminate the need for baby gates. We co-sleep, so he doesn't have a room to his own yet. His belongings are pretty much mingled in with ours. It works out well, since he just wants to be wherever we are. His toys and books are mingled in with our belongings.

  • Favorite family space

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    In which room in your home does your family congregate most often?
     
    For the past few years, it's been our office. It's where Alex and I both have our computers, desks, and work areas. It's also where the spare bed is and where our dogs sleep. It's a small room, but it's cozy in there. We have plans to remodel, knock down a couple walls, and open this room into the kitchen and living areas.

  • Shared creative space

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    Office: Old teacher's desk from the 50s found for free on Craigslist; old wooden soda and milk crates used as shelving

    Besides being a mom, you are very creative and handcraft soaps and candles to sell in your shop. Working among your family members, how do you find the space for your creativity?
     
    I do have my fingers dipped in many creative outlets, and I also have a lot of stuff. Having a studio to myself would be great someday although I think I may get lonely.

    For now, I enjoy working with my little one right by my side and having my "stuff" spread out all over the house. My family is pretty patient with the amount of stuff I have.

  • Creativity abound

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    Dining Room: Cupboard from the thrift store, holds Burl's toys, antique china, an old wooden measuring tape where I keep track of Burl's growing height; also the place where Amber's soaps cure and candles harden

    I use nearly every room in the house to create: the kitchen is where I cook and make soaps and candles; sewing and spinning is done in the family room; letterpress, painting, and computer work are usually done at my desk; drop spinning and knitting are portable and done throughout the house, but usually in bed. And gardening, of course, is done outside, although I've even temporarily transformed one of our bathrooms into a green house for starting seeds.

  • DIY project: wood floors

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    Living room: Oak floors exposed; white cabinet rescued from a thrift store, formerly a tool cabinet and now holds some of Amber's essential oils, candles, and packing supplies; thrifted green velvet couch; her husband's giant TV -- "If I had my way, we wouldn't have a TV. But having it there makes it more 'our' home and not just 'mine'."

    Tell us about a DIY project you have taken on recently and love.
     
    We recently pulled up the carpet in our living and dining rooms. We knew we had oak flooring underneath, but weren't sure of the condition. We were pleasantly surprised once the carpet was gone. The floors need to be refinished, which we plan on doing eventually. But in the mean time, the floors are comfortable and very livable.

  • Everyday ritual: time outdoors

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    Peach blossoms in the garden

    What is your most important everyday ritual at home?

    Spending time outdoors is my son's most important ritual, and therefore has become mine as well. No matter the weather, we spend time outside each day.

    We live near the ocean, so we visit the shore often. We have a large garden as well that we spend a lot of time in. We also take many walks late at night for him to fall asleep. It started out as a desperate attempt to calm him as a fussy newborn. It's now turned into a very tender part of our days, walking and singing and cuddling, just the two of us, while he drifts off.

  • Chores

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    Burl's toys all tidied up in baskets and crates

    What household chore do you hate? Any household chore you love?
     
    Folding laundry definitely falls to the bottom of my list. But I love to iron, so it all works out in the end. More times than not, there's a load or two of laundry waiting to be folded.

    As far as chores I enjoy, I like having a clean home, so I don't mind the dirty work like bathrooms and floors.

  • Indulgence: antiques

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    Craigslist rocking chair adorned with thrifted sheepskin

    In your home, what is one indulgence you give into?
     
    Definitely antiques. The resale value is good, so it helps ease buyer's remorse. If I find something in the thrift stores that I like and has value, I'll buy it. I buy things with the hope that they'll become family heirlooms. And if they don't, I can always resell them. Then I don't feel like I'm wasting money.

  • Amber's favorites

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    Second-hand yarns in a basket

    What are your favorite stores to shop for home?
     
    Like many other women featured here, I love thrift stores. I'm lucky to live in an old town, so I find some pretty amazing items come through the stores. I've also made purchases from Shopgoodwill.com, eBay and Craigslist.

    Craigslist is a great resource, even if you don't have one near you. I've purchased smaller items from Polaroid film to vintage knitting needles from Craigslist ads in other states.

    The trick with thrift stores is to go often. I've developed a routine; I know what to look for and how to quickly spot a good deal. If I must purchase something new, I enjoy Cost Plus World Market, and there's always Target to fall back on.

    What Home & Garden blogs or websites inspire you the most?

    Fog Linen Work, Selvedge Drygoods, Design*Sponge, simplesong, studio g

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    To see Amber Moss Ek's lovely handmade soaps and candles, visit her shop oakmoss and to enjoy bits of her daily life, visit her blog also called oakmoss. You may also see more Show & Tell Home Tours.

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