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Home Tour: Merrilee Liddiard of mer mag

Home & Garden Sheri Reed Jan 26, 2010

Merrilee Liddiard of mer mag

1Meet Merrilee Liddiard

Meet Merrilee Liddiard of the blog mer mag. Merrilee is an illustrator, painter, and designer, and WAHM to two boys.

Today, Merrilee gives us a Show & Tell Home Tour inside her house in South Pasadena, California.

Come on inside...

Mer and her family

2Meet Mer's family

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

Our little family consists of myself (a professional illustrator by trade), my husband Jon (an actor and mac computer genius), Little A (our 3 1/2-year old puzzle guru) and Baby O (our 15-month old daredevil).

We currently reside in South Pasadena, CA, and just recently moved into an older Mediterranean style apartment. We love it although it is a tad darker than I'd like (lots of windows but also lots of trees). We call it our castle because it stays cool in the middle of the blazing summer months (which is good because we have no AC).

Artwork print on the wall

3Decorating style

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

Decorating, for me, has to first and foremost inspire and lift my spirits. It then needs to work with my lifestyle (being as work/family/kid friendly and cost effective as possible). That is basically how I approach home design.

If a decorating look or feel inspires me, I do whatever I can to make it work in my home (taking into consideration the bones of the house — making sure it will actually go). I try to be as creative and out-of-box as I can while using what I already have. Everything else, I either make or try to get for a bargain — and splurge when it's absolutely necessary.

Little A's bed

4Kids stuff

You have two young boys. How does their STUFF influence the look and feel of your home?

First off, I LOVE toys. I love buying beautiful toys — be they wooden, tin, fabric, plastic, European, handmade, or from plain old Target. I think this makes it easier for me to see them lying around the house. They truly make me happy.

The boys' stylish book storage house

5Kid-friendly & sophisticated

My ideal look is sophisticated enough for an adult but secretly geared for children.

I enjoy finding creative ways to tie my children's needs into the design of my home, like by storing toys, trinkets, educational and art supplies in unique, visually appealing containers that work for them and the room. I recently scored a second hand play house for $6 that I now use for a mini bookshelf in the boy's room. I'm in love with it.

We are renting now, but when we own a home again, I'm dead set on installing a swing somewhere in the house and perhaps a super cool climbing wall...we'll see.


The living room, home office, and play space

6Live/work/play space

In which room in your home does your family congregate most often?

We all end up in the living room/home office. It's the largest room in the house and allows for the most diverse amount of activities: games, wrestling matches, cuddles, movie nights, Mom and Little A Montessori-learning-time, brother chases, etc.

It is also where mom works, so that is where the Littles want to be. We've never been a "hang out in the kitchen" kind of family. This, I'm sure, is due to my lack of time spent slaving over a hot stove. I love to bake for occasions, but Jon is the true hero in the kitchen (he just made us an incredible chicken and potato curry tonight! yum!)

Storage in the living room

7Reuse & repurpose

Great design can be expensive. How do you get the most bang for your buck?

I try to reuse or re-purpose as many things as I can. A discerning eye can take almost anything drab and outdated and make it beautiful — be it timeless or on trend.

I also like to make things. My dream would be to work more with wood. Someday I'll be able to make furniture...and that will be so freeing.

If I'm going to spend money, I try to either get it for a killer bargain or save up for the item of my dreams. I definitely see the value in splurging on one or two fabulous designer pieces. These can seriously escalate a room in the way a great bag can make an outfit. We still don't have a coffee table because I've got my eye on a spendy one, and I just can't seem get into anything else. So we'll save...and wait.

Mer's DIY black and white striped drapes

8DIY curtains

Tell us about a DIY project you have taken on recently and love.

I recently purchased black and white striped upholstery fabric from IKEA that I'm completely smitten with. They charged $7 a yard, which I felt was a bargain for was I was getting. I originally used some of the fabric for a tea party tablecloth but then went back for more so that I could turn it all it into floor-to-ceiling drapes that make me smile every time I walk in the room. They ended up costing much less than if I purchased preexisting or custom-made drapes. So there you go, a DIY bargain.

The work space where Mer's magic happens

9Work space

You're an illustrator, painter, designer, and a blogger. Do you have a room or space of your own? If yes, tell us about it. If no, how do you manage?

Someday a space of my own will be nice, but currently that just isn't practical. Not only is space limited, but I've found I work better just out in the open where I can see the Littles play.

My desk faces the rug where the boys typically create magic and mayhem. If it's an especially magnetic day where Baby O just can't resist the blink of the mouse or clink of the keyboard, I simply slide the couch around and voila!, instant closed-off office/sewing/painting area.

Of course, they've recently made a game out of seeing who can get under my desk and past my legs the fastest...and then they want to play in my work area so much more than anywhere else... That's my cue that it's time to go the park.

Baby O reading in the rocker; sock monkey paintings by artist friend Jacqui Larsen

10Favorite everyday ritual

What is your most important everyday ritual at home?

My kids' bedtime routine. This is my ALL time favorite time of day. In fact, I count down the hours and often begin it a little early. I love it because it means quality time with my kids, sudsing them up, cuddling them in their jammies and reading to them in our rocker.

It's also a time when I can just sit back and just enjoy their room, which I love.

I also love putting them to bed, turning out the lights and then... Freedom! It's then my time to illustrate, create, blog, lounge, browse magazines, make cookies, sew, illustrate some more, cuddle up with Jon, you name it.

Kitchen cupboard

11Chores to hate

What household chore do you hate?

I hate the dishes. Jon does too, so staying on top of them can be a struggle.

I also have to push myself to deep clean, but I hate surface clutter...so things stay in order...just a tad dusty for a day or two.

Laundry change jar

12Chores to love

What household chore do you love?

I love to fold laundry. I love warm, smell-good clothes and looking at all the little outfits my boys will wear for only so long.

I also love any type of organizing. Give me something to rearrange, and it suddenly takes priority over mopping the floors.

A large painting by Merrilee hangs in her boys' room

13Indulgence: artwork

In your home, what is one indulgence you give into?

Artwork. In my book, you can't put a price tag on an inspiring original work of art or a one-of-a-kind piece crafted for your home, especially if it's made by a friend, a family member, or someone you admire.

14Mer's favorite home stores

What are your favorite stores to shop for home?

I'm an Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters sale junkie. You can get some great things for your home at reasonable prices if you keep your eyes open. I also enjoy scouring thrift stores if my mood is right — you have to sift through a lot before you find that aha! item.

For more specific/designer items, I go online a lot. eBay can be great (just got a West Elm floor lamp that I'm nuts about). I love beautiful designer stores and boutiques but often find these hard to go to with the Littles in tow.

15Mer's favorite blogs & websites

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

I'm head over heels for a number of French blogs that I recently became familiar with (I secretly want to be French): Petit Bonheurs, Les Zigouis, Cinqmai, Cocon, and like a butterfly in your house. I love how all of these blogs share the author's personal creative endeavors through great photography and delightful glimpses of home life. So very inspiring.

Of course, there is always something wonderful to be found at the tried and true. Holly, of decor8, faithfully has me itching to remodel, Poppytalk has me sprinting for my craft table, and I could go on and on. There are oh so many great ones out there.

Thanks so much for showing us around your home, Merrilee! I totally want a book "house" now.

For more from Merrilee Liddiard, visit her nice blog mer mag or her Etsy shop tuesday morning. Visit all the Show & Tell Home Tours on CafeMom.

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