You are in for a real treat today for A Peek Inside: indie home tours—Amanda Blake Soule of the blog Soule Mama opens up her home for us to take a peek at. Amanda is a writer and a mama who blends the two on her blog and in her crafty books, the latest of which is Handmade Home: Simple Ways to Repurpose Old Materials into New Family Treasures (see my review here).
Amanda regularly shares her home on her blog, but she put together a collection of special images just for us and answered some questions about her home and designing style. I for one just love Amanda’s style, it’s very practical and homey, but with delicate little touches. I also love how she manages to make her home inviting for both big and little people.
See for yourself below!
1. How would you describe your designing style?
Oh, that’s hard! There’s a lot of handmade in our home, many textiles and lots of history. I love vintage goodness, and am especially drawn to things from the 1930’s and 1940’s. But there are no strict rules about that – whatever we like and whatever works for our space gets added to the mix!
2. Tell us about your home. Is it an apartment or house? Is it newer or a refurbished older home? Did you completely redo it or just add some new paint?
We live in a 1920s three bedroom colonial house. We’re renters, but we’ve been here for eight years now and have really tried to make it our home in that time. We haven’t done any huge remodeling, but we do a lot of the repairs and we’ve painted many times over. I think fresh paint is magic, especially for renters.
3. How about that pile of quilts in one of your pics. Are they family hand me downs, finds at yard sales, homemade by you or a mixture of all three?
A few are family treasures and many I find at yard sales and antique shops. All the newer quilts that I’ve made are in active use – they’re a bit more able to handle the wear and tear of daily kid use than the old vintage treasures.
4. Share a favorite treasure and tell us the story behind it.
Our art cabinet is a big favorite, mostly because of all the magic that comes out of using the things inside it! But that it was a free roadside find, and that it’s now covered in a much-loved vintage fabric all adds to the love, certainly.
5. Your home is so lovely and yet still kid-friendly. I love how you make spaces that both appeal to kids and adults. Do you have any advice for people wanting to do the same in their own homes?
Thank you! I think my one piece of advice for that would be to choose carefully the toys you bring into your home. For lots of reasons, ‘less’ is more. It’s better for children’s imaginations, better for creating a peaceful family environment, and it’s much easier on the space in a house. I also think ‘beauty’ is an important factor to consider when bringing a toy into your home. Shouldn’t children’s toys and surroundings be beautiful, too? I think so.
6. What’s your favorite room and why?
I think that might be our dining room. The room in which we all gather each and every day to share stories and meals. That’s such an important time for our family. And during the day, the very same table is where lots of art, and writing, and making happens. It’s a busy spot – I love it.
7. Is that homemade bread and jam I spy? Yum…do you have a recipe you can share?
It is! It’s strawberry-rhubarb jam, which I shared a recipe for on the blog last year:
Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
5 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered
3 cups rhubarb, sliced 1/2″
juice of 1.5 lemon
1 TBSP grated lemon zest
1.5 cups sweetener (I use turbinado sugar or honey)
1 oz pectin (I love Pomona’s Universal Pectin)
Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl (except the pectin), cover with wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
Drain juice from berries and rhubarb, and put in a large pot. Add half of the berry/rhubarb mix, and the pectin powder. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until it starts to thicken a bit. Puree, and then return to pot.
Add remaining berry/rhubarb mix. Bring to another boil, and then lower heat to a simmer for 20 -30 minutes, or until the jam thickens to your liking.
Pour into prepared jars, filling to within 1/2″ of the rim, and place lids on. These could be eaten immediately, refrigerated, or preserved with your favorite method.
8. Do you consider your home ‘finished’ or is it more a work in progress?
A work in progress, for sure. Our home is such a reflection of our lives and the way our days are spent – which are naturally always evolving and changing. I can’t imagine ever ‘finishing’ a house.
9. What’s one home decor project that you are particularly proud of?
Oddly, that might be the bookshelves in our dining room, and perhaps mostly because of their story. We were in need of really big bookshelves for that space. And as I’m sure lots of other people struggle with, finding furniture that we like the looks of, that fits, that is made humanely and sold ethically, AND is affordable – is a mighty tall task. So we found ourselves in a big box store about to make a purchase, when we both turned to each other and said, ‘what are we doing? Surely we can find a way to make it.”. And we did, even though carpentry skills aren’t exactly our forte. We found an old armoire in our basement, took it apart and used it for boards, and with just enough wooden vintage milk crates (from my grandparents dairy farm!), we put the shelves together. And in the end, they feel so much like ‘us’ that we can’t imagine having anything else there.