PaperCity 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.
Tell 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.
What 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.
Your 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.
Favorite 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.
I’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.
Please 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.
A 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
What 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!
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…
The 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.
Thank 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.