A Peek Inside: indie home tours with Vanessa Valencia from {A Fanciful Twist}

I have such a treat for you today’s edition of  A Peek Inside: indie home tours….Vanessa Valencia of {A Fanciful Twist} has opened up her homes for an exclusive tour just for Indie Fixx readers. Vanessa is an artist (etsy shop) & blogger who regularly shares little peeks of her homes on her blog, but never before has she thrown open the doors for a full-fledged tour…until now.  The observant among you may have noticed that I wrote homes and that was not a typo.  Vanessa has two homes—she is both a city & a country mouse—and she is sharing both with us.

Vanessa’s style is not easy to pin down, it’s one part New Victorian (as described in the Dec/Jan House Beautiful), one part whimsy, one part magical, one part bohemian, one part museum and another part amusement park, a little bit dark, lots of romance sprinkled about, a soupcon of art deco & with plenty of diy all throughout. I won’t waste too much time in trying to describe Vanessa’s style, as it will be much more enjoyable for you to come up with your own description after reading my interview with her as well as drooling over all the  images.

So, take a look, read the interview and share your thoughts. Personally, Vanessa’s country house just may well be my dream home! 😉

City house bedroom

1. How would you describe your designing style?

I would have to say that it is definitely an eclectic and collected design style – which seemingly combines all the design phases I have gone through since I started living alone at 18 to now. At the city house, there is a tinge of modernism left from my large scale abstract painting days, and collected pieces infused with a bit of wackiness and bright color flair. I went through a phase where I painted every piece of furniture I owned, including my piano and kitchen curio cabinet at the city house. So a bit of that remains, but I think my love of vintage and antiques have really taken over in the last few years giving my style a more vintage flair, especially in the country…

City house living

Country house bedroom in the spring

2. Tell us about your homes. How the city house/country house living evolve? Where do you spend most of your time?

I moved to Tucson in 1994 to attend the University of Arizona, at which point I moved into the city house. I lived there full time until I was 25 years old and had graduated from the University and started a career, where I met Mister Lovee (significant other). He had purchased this old property that needed work a few years before I met him. It had several canning and gardening facilities because there are many fruit trees, and the previous owners grew and raised all of their own food on the property for 30+ years.

Over time we realized there were spaces with potential for me to have my own room, studio, office and gallery, separate from the main house (which I don’t share in the photos in order to give Mister Lovee some privacy). Mister Lovee was very open to converting an Arizona room into my own girlie bedroom, a canning room into my studio, a canning facility into my office (most recent), and a canning and gardening house into a gallery for local shows and appointments. We dreamed about it for a few years, and then started to work on each space until it came to fruition.

I commuted between the city and the country house for years (spending most of my time in the country), and then made the country home my main residence about 4 years ago. I quit my business related job at which point I started spending all my time at the country house so I could create in my studio and run a little business selling my art. We own the country property together, and have high hopes of seeing it flourish even more. There are a few things we would like to do, and are open to and excited about future projects.

Country house bedroom

The interview continues after the jump

City house kitchen

Country house studio

4. What’s your favorite room at both homes?

Oh you are good with these questions 😉 Hmmm. Although I love many nooks in the city house, my favorite part of the city house was having people sit at the tall table in the kitchen, huddled in tight, while I cook. We always end up right in that little nook. It has wonderful memories for me.

At the country house, again, I love all my spaces because they satisfy different emotional needs. If I had to choose, of course, I would have to choose the studio. When I go in there to create, paint and glue and goodness knows what else can fly around unhindered. The space where you create is always sacred. Even if it is in your garden like it used to be for me at the city house many years ago…

Country house studio

5. Do you consider your homes ‘finished’ or is it more a work in progress?

I just had an epiphany with this question. I don’t think I consider any part of my living spaces or garden finished, even though I don’t make huge changes very often. They are evolving and in my mind are places that have a life of their own. My friend always says to me that I am very protective of my spaces. And that goes back to the evolution of personal spaces and feeling like they are living and growing and changing with you. So yes, it is an evolving work in progress – changing often, even if I only move one thing from here to there, or bring a new treasure home. It changes the physical balance in my mind somehow, and keeps a flow and movement going…

Country living – in the  Gypsy Garden

6. Love the idea of outdoor living. How did that develop for you and logistically how does it work? Do you have a roof?

The Gypsy garden is outside, under huge trees in our front yard, but you can’t really see it from the street because of trees and shrubs – and everyone here is on acreage so you don’t have super close neighbors. It does not have a roof. I am in Southern Arizona where it never rains. Maybe 17 days a year, or so they say.

The gypsy garden happened on a whim on one of my crazy idea vibes to surprise my Mister. We ended up loving it out there. Unless it is the middle of summer, the weather here is extra lovely. Especially in Fall, Winter and Spring. I built the bed out of vintage metal crates and a giant vault like door that belonged to an old refrigerated room in a store. The door has 5 inches of Styrofoam sandwiched between friendly metal which is perfect for outdoor living because it can stay out there all the time. I use layers of foam and cozy covers and pillows, and simply roll them up and put them in a big bag if the weather gets weird. All the “fabric curtain walls” are attached to the trees (the trees are very helpful) with sturdy clothespins and stay up year round.

Now we have added a “gypsy wagon”, which gives you a place to hide out in if it ever happens to rain. Most of the furnishings stay outside all the time, as does the bathtub (which can be connected to hot water). It is really easy if you don’t mind the outdoors and it can be outrageously lovely and fun!

Country house – in the Gypsy Wagon

7. Do you do a lot of entertaining? If so, where and what kind? Dinner parties, large raucous parties, tea parties?

I used to have tons of parties at the city house. When I had a job where there were lots of people and when I used to do pottery at the museum of art every week, we would have witches only Halloween parties and cocktail parties all the time, filled with artists and potters. Terribly interesting conversations and people would fill the room. It was wonderful!Once a year in the country we have a big musician party in the Gypsy Garden, and play folk and blues music all night (Mister is a musician), nothing too raucous. Also, when I have my online Mad Tea Party in June, I keep the decor up for a week or two and have different groups of friends stop by to have tea parties.

Country house outside living

8. What have been some of your favorite decorating projects and why? What are some things that you would have done differently?

The gypsy garden and the country house have been a blast. I have never had boundaries about what to hang on my walls etc. I just have to love it. I don’t have to match anything with anything because my brain doesn’t work like that. Also, the country house is a huge compilation of old and antique things I have collected. These are things I love to surround myself with, that have taken on different uses. Many thrifted, antiqued and rummage sale finds live in the country. Things I bought for a song, and didn’t have a place for. Like my mantle headboard for example. I used it as a headboard in a light bulb moment, and it worked. I am also loving playing with the office right now. It is bound to change a little here and there.

I can’t think about what I would have done differently, predominantly because, anything can change at any moment. I don’t buy such big furniture and sofas and things that I can’t decide to put them in a shed and swap for something else if I need a change. No rules is my motto 😉

Images from  the Country house office

9. Obviously you are inspired by so much, but if you had to narrow it down, what would you say are your main inspirations in life, living and decorating?

I think for any inspiration to first find you on any level, you have to know a few things about yourself. I believe it all comes down to knowing what you love and what you need in the emotional fulfillment arena, especially regarding your living spaces. For instance, in decorating, inspiration usually begins for me with obscure old pieces that get my interest and imagination peaked. It is more than just visual, it is some level of curiosity and fascination that I find in an item, which goes for a look or feel as well, that leads me to want to bring it into my world.

It also begins with the option of mixing different design styles to suit what I love. I don’t do anything (or buy anything) I don’t want to. I know what I like. I know what I love. I know what I can’t live with and change that right away if possible. My main goal is to surround my heart, mind and soul with that which brings me happiness. And, to be frank, that is also a reason I have my own room in the country as well as my own little play spaces. That works for us. I need my own space to breathe in, but that goes back to me knowing what works for me. If you can identify what you need and desire with regards to your “dwelling” you can always try to make it work somehow. We all need a little nook filled with things we love, even if it is in the corner of your closet. I live by that.

Images from  the Country house studio

10. Where do you do most of your creative work?

Most of my creative work happens in the studio. I might get an idea in the garden or what not, but all of my painting happens in the studio. When it comes to small scale clay sculpting, you will find me cuddled into a little corner of a sofa or chair, legs tucked under me, with the piece right up to my face, as sculpt. Then the painting part happens in the studio. One thing I do love though, is sitting on my bed and drawing…

City house 

City house bedroom

11. Any new home projects in the works?

I am working (emotionally) towards thinking about selling the city house in the future and building a big barn house or little villa on an empty spot on our property in the country. In the immediate future, a vegetable garden and a tiny greenhouse are on the discussion table…

Scenes from the City house

Images from  the Country house studio

Images from  the Country house office

Country house bedroom

Outdoor living – Country house


  1. Vanessa, I admire your talents and I know exactly what you mean and feel about having your own sacred space to work,to think and dream. I like to refer to my sacred world as “my bubble.” I use that term a lot to descibe myself. My mother says that’s where my reality is. I enjoyed seeing your fanciful spaces and reading your thoughts. From one artist to another you have inspired me! Thank you I needed a refreshment. Best to you and Mr Lovee.
    until next time…Ness

  2. this is ahhmazing i would liove my house to look like this you are great 🙂 i love it especially the gipsy garden 🙂 great job

    & buy the way who are you vanessa iv never heard of you i just found this websit looking up gipsy stuff

  3. Thank you Vanessa, once more you’ve brought some sunbeams into my little room. You are truly a magical person. Lesley UK

  4. I just love me some Vanessa and all her wonderfullness 😉 She is quite the inspiration and a fun and whimsical soul. Now, If I could just get her to let me move in, tee hee (no, not the kids…just me 😉 What a great feature and site.

    Jamie 🙂

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