It is my pleasure to take you on the very first Show & Tell Home Tour here in Home & Garden Buzz.
Today, we are visiting the lovely home of creative mama, blogger, and author Amanda Blake Soule, otherwise known as SouleMama.
Come on inside...
Amanda Soule, surely one of the best creative and crafty mama bloggers out there, writes regularly about family, home, nature, and handmade crafting. Through her insightful way of looking at the world, SouleMama shares wonderful ways to invoke wonder, to inspire creativity in self and in our children, and to celebrate the goodness of every day. The best thing I've learned personally from reading SouleMama? If you want to be creative, you have to make room for creativity in your home.
Here's what Amanda had to say when we spoke a little recently about her home:
1. Tell us a little about your family and the size of your home.
My husband, three children (ages 7, 5, and 3), and I live in a 'cozy' three-bedroom New England Colonial, built in 1920 near Portland, Maine.
SouleMama's family at home
2. How do you approach decorating in your home? What's the most important thing and how do children fit into that approach?
I try to aim for a healthy mix of practical, comfortable and what's beautiful to us. We live and work at home (our children are homeschooled, and we both work a bit from home), so our house really has to function well for many different kinds of activities of equal importance—from play, to work, to creating, entertaining, and relaxing too. And in the midst of all those 'functions,' I try to incorporate the things that we love—vintage furniture and textiles, elements of the natural world, and a lot of handmade too.
Wooden play kitchen and creative corner
3. You're expecting a new baby any minute now. How have you prepared or made room for baby in your home thus far?
We're trying to carve out little spaces here and there throughout the house for the baby and the baby care in our near future! I just added a new bureau to our bedroom which will double as a changing table and added a favorite Nikki McClure 'Surrender' print as an important reminder above it. So much of the baby's first year will really be spent in a sling, snuggled on a lambskin, or someplace similar—I don't find that we need a lot of "things" for such a little one. But we do need spaces in which lots of snuggling, nursing, and napping can happen—so we've been working on making sure there's plenty of room for that.
Baby Soule's changing table
4. How important is a clean house to you? Do you pick up for guests or do you let them see how things really look day to day?
It depends on who the guest is! I'm far from a neat freak and I'm sure you could find dust (or worse—peanut butter and jelly leftovers, anyone?) in every room of my house. But, that said, keeping things relatively 'tidy' is really important to me. At the end of the day, when company is coming, and ideally before we leave the house (coming home to a messy house is so discouraging to me!), I do a sweep through our main living area—picking up the books, toys, and clutter that have accumulated. I really believe that knowing where things are is helpful in the creative and play process—both for children and adults. So I do make an effort to tidy up at the end of the day so we can start fresh each morning.
Weekend playing on pretty wood floor
5. What household chore do you tend to back burner most so you can tend to your creative life?
I suppose it would be the deeper cleaning that gets neglected the most—washing windows, cleaning my oven, scrubbing the shower. These tasks hardly seem to make it to the front of my to do list. I try to let it go, knowing that I'd much rather be playing, living, creating with my little ones while I can. I'll have plenty of time for a really clean oven in the years to come when they're not needing me so much, right?
Pretty little creative space
6. What is your most important everyday ritual at home?
I find a lot of comfort in the rhythm our day—from baking to cleaning and playing, too. The everyday rituals we have are so important to me and, I think, to the children as well, in terms of something they can rely and depend upon to guide their days. If I had to choose one, it would be our evening meal. Especially as the children are getting a bit older and we're just reaching the point where we have fewer spills/climbing on the table/crying interruptions. It's so wonderful to watch how our evening meal is turning into a longer, more peaceful time of connection and family gathering. That time is incredibly special to me, and I see that only growing more as the children get older.
All set for the evening meal
7. Do you have anything in your home brought over from your own childhood home? Tell us about this item.
I have my childhood rocking chair—complete with its 1976 bicentennial eagle stenciled on it. It's kitschy and nostalgic, and I love it. So do my little ones. My three-year old has it in her bedroom now.
Amanda's childhood rocking chair
8. What is one indulgence you give into?
Definitely fresh flowers. In the spring/summer/fall months, I head outside nearly every morning to gather something to bring inside. And when I'm really lucky, the kids bring me 'bouquets' they find through the day. We were blessed with some really wonderful gardeners in our home before us, so I'm still reaping the rewards of the planting that happened years ago. In the winter months, regularly splurging on fresh flowers feels not only a bit indulgent, but essential for a bit of color and life in our long winters.
Fresh flowers—a must have
9. What are your favorite stores to shop for home?
Um, does my local thrift store count? Seriously, most of my furniture comes from thrift shops, flea markets, yard sales, and antique stores. I do very little 'new' shopping for my home. Buying older things really appeals to my aesthetics, my values, and my budget. As cliché as it sounds, they really just don't make things like they used to…and there is so much 'old' out there just waiting to be rediscovered, used, and loved again.
Thrifted art collection
Space for dress up
10. What are your favorite Home & Garden blogs or websites?
Sometimes I peek in on Apartment Therapy's Ohdeedoh, and I love the homes featured on BloesemKids. I love looking through the Corners of My Home Flickr group I started a few years ago—I'm really inspired by people who share glimpses of their very real homes and how they've made them both functional and beautiful at the same time.
You can read more about Amanda Blake Soule and her family at her blog SouleMama or by checking out her book The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections.