THE ART OF FUN

Jill-Smith-papercity-dutch-doorPaperCity magazine recently did a feature on our home and family in their July 2015 issue. Wooch and I looked at each other and laughed initially when they asked to come shoot our home because we’ve seen many of the past interior features, and we felt that our home and style didn’t exactly fit in. We are and our home is such a work in progress. Because there are many projects we still want to do sometimes we forget that what we have done so far is pretty darn cool. Having a team come in with a new eye made us see the big beautiful picture all over again. This is an inside look into our sweet, silly family exactly where and how we are now. It captures our daily lives. How we love mixing work and play. Mixing indoors and outdoors (natural light and natural wood are a big yes). Mixing a good amount of art and sometimes a good amount of mess. Wooch and I are both very lucky that the jobs we chose allow us a flexible schedule and loads of time at home. We can hop over to a park to meet friends in the middle of the day or decide to pitch a tent in our own backyard. Our home is far from ‘perfect’ or ‘done’ but it is soooo perfectly us in a nutshell because we like to play as much as possible with our kids.

Here are a few excerpts from the July issue, as well as bits of the interview that didn’t make the cut. All questions posed by Steven Hempel for PaperCity.

Jill-Smith-papercity-nook1 horz 1 vertTell me about how the home came about.
Jill: We were renting and had considered moving out of Houston a million times. But once we had our first kiddo, we realized how nice it was to be in a big city that wasn’t crazy expensive, had arts and culture and diversity and an airport with such a wide reach, so here we are. My parents are also here, which is huge for us. We bought a home with the intention of remodeling, but after much debate, we changed our minds and built new.
Wooch: We worked with architect Joe Milton of Milton Architects, who has a Clint Eastwood squint, a John Wayne swagger and is as easy as Cool Hand Luke. He was great for us and patient with the initial idea of renovating our 1942 home. Five bids later, we learned it would be foolish to spend that much money to renovate this particular house if we planned on staying for long. So he took what we liked most about the home and accentuated it in a new design that retains much of the character of the original home.

Jill-smith-papercity-stairsWhat did you know you wanted to incorporate from the beginning?
Jill: From our first meeting with Joe, we knew that we wanted to do some really fun and different things, like incorporating a fire pole from the second floor down to the first, and installing a slide on our stairs. We like playful things, and we don’t like to take ourselves too seriously. What we didn’t know is how hard it is to do fun and different things when building a home! But Wooch found some very nice firemen (seriously) and got some great information concerning our fire-pole installation. And we found artist Sam Jones, who built our slide, which is my favorite permanent fixture in our home. It’s made of old bowling-alley floors that Sam carved and sanded to fit perfectly. It’s truly amazing. And every morning, our kids go down it in their pajamas on their way to breakfast. My father, who is a retired landscape architect, came up with a brilliant idea of a 360-degree pass-through area behind secure gates for safe play, protecting peace of mind, dogs and kids.

Jill-Smith-papercity-daybedJill-Smith-papercity-giggleYour thoughts on parenting…
Jill: I love being a mom. It sounds cliché, but it is so true. I love spending time with my kids, playing with them, sneaking glances at them when they’re sleeping and getting to experience everything with them. That’s not to say that sometimes they can be little twerps and make me question if I’m doing a good job or not!
Wooch: And I love being a dad. It’s by far the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but it truly has the biggest return in joy. As a parent, I’m reminded everyday to be patient, kind and honest. This, along with Jill telling me to “be patient, kind, and honest.” Often.

Jill Smith papercity fly1 horz 1 vertFavorite things to do as a family? Favorite places to visit?
Jill: We play Uno and poker, build train tracks, bike around our neighborhood, dance and eat pancakes on Saturday mornings, take vacations and read stories. A favorite place to visit is California, because we have family there. Our kids would probably say their favorite place to visit is an ice cream shop.
Wooch: Can’t leave out sidewalk-chalk body outlines and Big Wheel race tracks. We enjoy lots of board games, putting puzzles together, and we definitely love to travel together.

Jill-Smith-papercity-porchI’d like you to give me some thoughts about the ‘fabric’ of your neighborhood as well?
Jill: I feel like there are a wide variety of people in our neighborhood, but we all value the trees and the space. It’s small enough to feel cozy but eclectic enough to be interesting.
Wooch: We find the neighborhood peaceful, eclectic, and appealing within the realms of the big city. It is a community of passionate people old, young, gay, straight, family, and single who find value in their environment. We like green spaces and more often than not, we like each other.

Jill-Smith-papercity-snugglePlease give me your thoughts on family in general…I know it is a big priority in both of your lives.
Jill: Family is everything, I’m grateful for my parents and my family that I had growing up, and I’m grateful for the little family that we’ve made.
Wooch: Ditto on what Jill said. We are family, and we feel everyone contributes to each other’s well-being. It is important for us to take care of each other, and we are fortunate to have some pretty amazing role models to follow.

Importance of structure (or lack of) for the day…
Jill: We have a fluid schedule, and I like to let the kids help choose what they are in the mood to do. But at nighttime, I can be a strict one. Sleep is important, and I love to go to bed early. Thankfully our kids do too, then they wake up at the crack of dawn, smiles on and ready to go.
Wooch: Well said! I believe sleep is one of the most important gifts we can allow for our children.

Jill Smith papercity YAYA few words on balance…for the body, the mind, the family.
Jill: I am no where near qualified to tell people what to do, nor do I feel perfectly balanced. But I AM happy, and I know that in life we evolve and go through different stages. So right now I’m embracing the “do a lot of laundry and clean up a lot and laugh a lot and realize that it really is great” stage. I’ll try to keep looking at the big picture. And to not to complain or make mountains out of molehills. I think my parents are a wonderful example of balance and happiness, so I’ll look to them.
Wooch: Uh huh

1 horz 1 vertWhat is your favorite Karaoke song?
Jill: Trust me on this one, you never ever want me to karaoke for you or anyone else in a 5 mile radius of me and a microphone.
Wooch: “What Does the Fox Say?” by Ylvis

Who is the better dancer?
Jill: Wooch. Dammit.
Wooch: Jill taught me everything I know. We love to dance!

1 horz 1 vertWho cooks?
Jill: The lovely take out chefs at Coltivaire, Down House and Revival Market. Kidding (sort of!) I’m the one who gets food to the table, yet neither one of us are great cooks. I joke that I curate meals like an art curator brings art together in an exhibit, I bring healthy, whole and simple food items to the table together and we eat. It’s like a simple picnic every night for dinner.
Wooch: I grill and she curates…

Jill Smith papercity kid room

Jill-Smith-papercity-pillowsThe lessons you have learned from it all.
Jill: I’m definitely still learning. I think it is important be patient and be kind. Think about how other people feel. And humor normally helps everything. Laugh at yourself and tell silly stories.
Wooch: You never stop learning, and realizing our kid’s best education is how we treat each other daily and the people in which we surround ourselves. Humor is always good as well as being self-deprecating.

1 horz 1 vertThank you to Steven Hemple, Michelle Aviña and the team at PaperCity. You made it so fun and are welcome to come over and play anytime.

Art direction by Michelle Aviña.
Photography by Jenny Antill Clifton. Assisted by Maggie Cheatham.
Hair and make up by: Tonya Riner.
Architect for our home: Joe Milton Architects.
Interior design for studio: Ann Wolf.
Artist who created our slide: Sam Jones.

Who Doesn’t Love a Good Blanket Fort?

JS098When I was a kid, I used to gather tons of sheets and pillowcases and section my room into a million little cozy spots. With wooden clothespins and every sheet I could find, I would spend hours creating different rooms to play in. It would slowly transform into my very own make-believe house.JS118Our kids now often do the same, taking every sheet and pillow off every bed in the house to create anything their silly heads dream up. Forts are always popular. As are the “pillow pools” in my studio where they jump off the drafting table into their poofy pillow piles. We also make “burritos” where I roll them up together in a down comforter with only their little noggins poking out. Then I roll them down the hallway, pretending to try and eat them. When Daddy gets involved, the materials grow more adventurous. Our living room has been completely covered in tarps and duct tape courtesy of my husband trying to create a circus tent. Our kids loved it, obviously, but our poor dogs just wanted to know how to get back over to their snuggly dog beds.

Recently I made the simplest spot for my sweet and silly 3-year old. It took a little imagination and just a few minutes of my time, but the reward was huge. He was cozied up in the hallway with one sheet and one comforter as his enchanting blanket fort and absolutely loved it. It was his very own spot for the entire afternoon, complete with plenty of books and a huge flashlight. He had the sweetest little grin on his face the whole time he was in there. And of course, so did I.

JS115JS114JS108JS106JS105JS102Photography by Rebecca Sanabria who had to learn the secret password to enter the fort.

Alicia@ Eco Friendly Homemaking - Oh this is so sweet! Our children use to love to do this!

SEALED WITH A SMOOCH

xoxo
Valentine’s day is a great excuse to wear red and pink together and to send out cards saying “You are super.” Because you are.

My Valentine photo card collection for Tiny Prints found here. Classroom cards for the kiddos here.
Valentine stickers here. (I ordered the little cutie monsters for my real life little cutie monsters.)

A BEAUTIFUL NIGHT

Jill-Smith-Tiffani-Thiessen-01You may have heard of my sister-in-law before. Her name is Tiffani Thiessen and she has been on TV shows with a cult following for most of her life. Most people call her Kelly Kapowski and have incredibly fond memories of her from their childhood. She graciously says ‘yes’ when people want to take a photo with her or get her autograph. She is a celebrity. However, to me, she is my very down-to-earth and wonderfully supportive family member. She is my friend. She is the most fun aunt to my children. She is the perfect wife for my brother. She is truly the sister I never had and someone with whom I chat with about all things, big and little. I feel grateful every day that she is in my family.

One afternoon we were chatting about what we’d both been working on professionally and decided that a little celebration was in order. So we co-hosted a party to celebrate the upcoming launch of her new TV show, Dinner at Tiffani’s, and the launch of my holiday card collection and home décor. We thought that food and décor would be a great excuse to get a small group of our friends and co-workers together for a good time.
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The party was held one evening in Los Angeles around the holidays, and it brought together some of our favorite designers and artisans. It was such a treat for Tiffani and I to work together to design and plan the event. We created a black, white and metallic gold setting with a mixture of modern and vintage accents. We both wanted it to be elegant, yet cozy and certainly not stuffy, so we tailored our plans around this thought. Small hors d’oeuvres were passed as the party started, but we kept it simple with open seating. Strands of white lights hung everywhere.
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We chose table settings from Casa de Perrin with gold flatware and a variety of opaque ceramics and vintage goblets to top the table runners I designed.
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Moon Canyon designed the most beautiful greenery arrangements that spilled out every so perfectly from every surface. We chose eclectic, vintage furniture and serving platters for all of the tables complete with a variety of perfectly mismatched chairs from Found Rentals. Throughout the evening, guests lounged and dined by the outdoor brick fireplace.
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I incorporated my handwriting when designing all of the printed pieces, including the menu, to give it just that little edge. We ordered custom tape for wrapping the baguettes because we’re always up for a laugh.
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Tiffani crafted and created a menu with everything from a little gem salad with pomegranate seeds, blue cheese and roasted pears to platters of roasted chicken with lemon and Picholine olives. She is an exceptional chef and such a warm and inviting host.
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Jenny Keller of Jenny Cookies worked her magic on a whole dessert table with mini pies, glittery gingerbread and iced sugar cookies all looking way too adorable on their scalloped cake stands. Thankfully Elizabeth Messina agreed to photograph the evening for us. The shots she got make me drool on my computer screen a little each time I see them.
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When the party ended, each guest left with homemade granola and other presents wrapped in paper I designed.
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As is always the case, the people make the party. We were happy to not only work with talented and kind people for this event, but to have even more wonderful people join us for the evening. With the start of this new year, I cannot help but look back and feel such gratitude for the friends and family that I’ve had for years and for the friends I get to meet through working on events like this. May our 2015 calendars (and beyond!) be filled with good times.
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Menu crafted by Tiffani Thiessen. Be sure to look for her new show, Dinner at Tiffani’s, on the Cooking Channel.
Party décor and gifts designed by me, produced by Tiny Prints and Shutterfly. Find their table runners here. Pillows here. The invitation we used for the party here. And a journal we gifted each guest here. Wrapping paper designed by me and printed by Spoonflower.
Photography by Elizabeth Messina.
Children’s toys collected to donate to Baby Buggy.
Also a huge thank you to our sweet husbands, Wooch Graff and Brady Smith, for all the heavy lifting, getting all decked out and putting up with all of our ideas. And to Vicki. Um wow, you could not be more amazing.
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Cindy Giovagnoli - Just beautiful!! What a great way to celebrate! Amazing work, as always!

Lisa levy - looks amazing and fabulous – just like you!! Hope to see you at the designer summit in Cali! Xo

Susan Kostelecky - Awesome post and the food and decor looks fab and very fun! Congrats, Jill, on your new products and Tiffani’s new show!