Amy Hanson of Sweet Sweet Life
Come on inside ...
As you know I love toodling around Flickr, and thank goodness because that's where I found Amy and her creative home. It's not hard to tell that Amy has the mind of an artist, as her home decor is creative, eclectic, and rich with imagination. She uses her unique and colorful vintage collections to create playful scenes at every turn. Amy has managed to leave her inspired mark on every inch of her newer home, creating a fantastic and sophisticated creativity playhouse of sorts. You're going to have so much fun looking around her place. Let's go...
1. Tell us a little about your family and your home.
Well, there are five of us: me and my sweet husband, our two little girls, and my mom--I am so fortunate to be able to live with four of my very favorite people in the whole world. We live south of San Diego, California, in a newish two-story. Homebodies all, we live, laugh, and love right here, and it's super important to all of us.
Heart artwork made from wooden spools
An arrangement of Amy's pretty things
2. How do you approach decorating in your home? What's the most important thing?
I don't really think of it as "decorating." That, to me (maybe wrongly), implies matching and working within a "theme." Having said that, my overriding goal has always been that our home environment reflect our happiness, in general. Nothing more and nothing less. I am a very visual person, and I find that the scenes I look at daily make me the most happy when they are colorful and have a certain childlike aesthetic. Of course, this is very much influenced by my having two children at home, but I've always been attracted to whimsical things. Humor is so, so important. My overall goal in designing my home is and always has been to reflect the people who we are trying to raise our children to be: creative, happy, loving, and adaptable.
Colorful collections add playfulness
Hat pin collection arranged atop a stack of pretty books
3. You have two children. How does their STUFF influence the look and feel of your home?
Their stuff is everywhere, but I love that. The colors and sensibilities of children's items (particularly the more traditional vintage-like toys and clothing) fall right within my own preferences, so it all works together. My paintings, for instance, are usually brightly colored and bold, and the books, games, and toys that we've collected seem to complement them well. I work hard at containing their stuff, though, and I find that the more organized it is, the better we all feel.
Amy's younger daughter's feminine bedroom
Amy's younger daughter works on a drawing in her room
Amy's older daughter's room
Kids artwork on display
4. Great design can be expensive. How do you get the most bang for your buck?
Well, I don't know that I am any authority on great design, but I do, like most people, have very little money to spend on my home's "look." Overall, the best practice for me is to purchase things plain and make them unique myself. The whole reason I began to paint and craft is that I wanted my home to have a certain "look," and I couldn't afford the items that I saw in stores and catalogs. So, I purchased canvases and inexpensive paint and got busy! It's much less expensive to buy a plain white lampshade and jazz it up yourself than to buy one pre-done--and then it's yours and yours alone! And there are so many ways to make things unique and fun...especially with the unbelievable availability of craft and vintage items. Like everyone these days, too, I have a favorite thrift shop that I visit frequently...
A plain fireplace made special with artful creative touches
Splashes of original art and bright colors inspire!
A small vintage scene atop the armoire
Bottle cap bulletin board and apron on display
5. Tell us about the best deal you have gotten lately for your home.
I recently purchased a "dream item" at IKEA with a bit of my earnings from teaching: an 8-foot table, just for arts and crafts, which fills what was originally intended to be a dining/living room area. It was around $400 and worth every penny, as it is used daily by four of the five people in our home. I'm a firm believer in using, really using, every room in the house. If the space isn't earning its keep, I say make it something else that will!
The 8-foot IKEA craft table
Pretty parasol lanterns
A ribbon partition and original artworks
Amy's apron collection adds color and charm
6. Tell us about one DIY project you have taken on recently and love.
I always wanted a simple, bold headboard—just never found one that was simple enough, affordable, and non-upholstered. Then it dawned on me--what is simpler and more affordable than canvases? I painted three 24x30" canvases with black paint, hung them on the wall behind our bed, and presto! Easy, simple, cheap, and bold. For under $20! I love it, and when I get tired of it, I'll just use the canvases some other way...
The DIY painted canvas headboard
7. Do you have a favorite decorative item in your home? Tell us about this item.
My favorite decorative item is actually items: books. We are a family that loves to read, and we have a lot of books. We've got them everywhere, it seems, and I think they inspire a certain contentedness in all of us. Maybe this is wrong of me, but I am always a little suspicious of people that live in a home without books...
Books as decor
Color-coordinated bookshelves make nice design
More books and a wide-eyed friend
8. You are an artist and jewelry designer. What household chore do you tend to back burner most so you can tend to your creative life?
Um...can I say "most of them"? I mean, I get the important stuff done, but it might take me a little longer than some because I'm dividing my energy between kids, home, and creating (as are many moms!). Creating is so vital to my well-being that I make it a priority for the well-being of my family. Housework is a task that is never complete, even if you spend a huge part of your day focusing on it. As long as our home environment is healthy and wholesome (in general), I find it very easy to place housework lower on my list of priorities than family and creative time. Also, neatness is much more important to me than spotlessness.
Bath toys and supplies kept neat in colorful colanders
9. What is your most important everyday ritual at home?
An early bedtime for the children, relative to their peers. Adults need adult time, and kids need more rest than people think.
10. In your home, what is one indulgence you give into?
Chocolate (for everyone) and red wine (for adults). Always.
Pretty kitchen art and color
In the kitchen, a jar from which to "Eat" and one from which to "Spell"
11. What are your favorite stores to shop for home?
Target, IKEA, eBay, VivaTerra, the AmVets Thrift Store on 3rd in Chula Vista, CA, and Etsy, Etsy, Etsy! I love supporting independent craftspeople, and most of my favorite items have come from the incredibly creative people on Etsy.
More book displays
12. What Home & Garden blogs or websites inspire you the most?
I don't really check the home and garden blogs much. I find them a little intimidating!...I consult my books a lot, for ideas on living stylishly with kids. And I love Bloesem and BloesemKids. And I recently found a wonderful design blog that seems to have the same philosophy as me: it's called Mabel + Lola, and it's fantastic. Less of the upscale, more of the fun. But still stylish!
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