Today, I’m sharing a lovely home with you all- oodles of rustic charm mixed with modern living. Katie is an artist with a classic and crisp sense of design; and you can see that both in her home and her art. Hope you enjoy this feature and get some inspiration! To me, her space is all about bright (natural) lighting, structured simple elements and coastal vibes integrated with an artistic approach. Let’s hear from Katie now- take it away, Katie!
A Creative Home..with Artist Katie in Carrollton, Virginia
Hi there! My name is Katie, and I’m the artist behind The Secret Zebra. I live in historic Carrollton, Virginia with my supportive, talented husband Reuben and sweet pup Heidi. This rural town on the east coast is an up-and-comer, but it still maintains that old rustic charm that we love so much. Our house is tucked away in a small housing development, but we’re only a stone’s throw from open fields, old farmhouses and miles of winding roads. And if you drive far enough, you’ll reach the beautiful James River and a quiet beach where you can easily spend half a day without a second thought.
Our house was built almost four years ago, with all the basic, builder-grade materials most people despise. But we wanted it that way! We knew we wanted to put in the work to give the house the character it deserved. We’ve slowly but surely made it our own, installing hardwood floors, adding board-and-batten on the walls and building handmade furniture to fill the rooms. (Reuben is the master craftsman, and I’m just the sidekick.)
With three bedrooms and just over 2,700 square feet of space, it’s a lot for this two-person household to keep up with, but we knew we wanted room to grow. And so, we’ve made this house into a cozy little home.
1/What makes your home a creative one?
Our home is my studio—and canvas—all wrapped up into one. Every surface has been my workspace at one point or another. I draw at the kitchen table, paint in the dining room and assemble gift tags on the couch while watching TV. Beyond the artsy things, my home itself is a source of inspiration and creativity in that I’m constantly decorating, designing and collecting meaningful pieces to fill the walls and shelves. Home is where I daydream and create. It’s my canvas.
2/What aspect of your home leaves you inspired most (and least too)?
I love where we live. We’re on the outskirts of a rural river town called Smithfield. Step out of our neighborhood, and you’re suddenly flanked by wide-open spaces, farm animals and centuries-old trees. Living here inspires me to bring that same rustic charm into our home. I love bringing natural elements that are native to where we live and filling our home with them. My goal is to make the house an extension of the outside.
The only downside to living where I create is the piles of laundry and dirty dishes that vie for my attention. The to-do list is long, but I’d much rather draw, paint or create.
3/How would you describe your home style?
A year ago, I would’ve said that my style was strictly farmhouse-inspired. But today, I think a better description would be rustic-modern-eclectic-coastal-farmhouse. In other words, a little bit of everything. In my book, there are no rules when it comes to decorating a home. If it makes me happy, I hang it on the wall or display it on my mantle. Period.
4/The biggest challenge you’ve faced so far regarding your home?
Two words: natural light. If you handed me a magic wand and said, “change one thing about your home,” I wouldn’t think twice about adding a bazillion more windows. Yes, a bazillion. Everything looks better drenched in daylight, don’t you think?
5/Something your house is full of?
Animals. Not real ones (except for Heidi). Figurines, pictures, paintings, my drawings. You name the critter, and it’s probably there. From the handmade oak whale above our bed to the streamer of animal art prints in our guest bedroom, they’re everywhere. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
6/If your house had to be named, what would you call it?
7/What do you think is your favourite aspect in your house?
The stories. Every room is decorated with pieces that have a story. Whether it’s a painting by my late mother-in-law, a set of vintage brass owls my husband surprised me with on my birthday or the frames he built, everything in our home has meaning.
8/Biggest DIY you’ve ever attempted in the house?
Installing our hickory floors was the biggest feat yet! You know how moms say that childbirth is the hardest thing they’ve ever done, but then they keep having more kids? Yeah. That’s what this project was like. And here we are, two years later, talking about installing hardwood floors upstairs! Oye.
9/How many times do you think of changing up the decor and arrangements?
Every day. And I actually do change it every day. It’s a hobby.
(Spot the changes!)
10/Do you think your creativity is linked to the way you live?
Absolutely yes! Our lifestyle is very conducive to my creative habits. I work from home and essentially live in my studio, so inspiration is all around me—all day long. I’m constantly surrounded by the things that stir my soul—nature, animals and that country way of life.
11/Something that you love about your house and wouldn’t change for the world?
The man and dog who live in it with me. Easiest answer ever.
Rapid Fire Round:
1/ What are your creative hobbies?
Drawing (of course), painting, decorating, DIYing, marketing, baking and reading when I actually find a book that I’m into.
2/ What’s your favourite color? Book? Movie? Flower?
Blue. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson (I’m a total sci-fi/fantasy nerd). You’ve Got Mail. Tulip.
3/If you were to write a book about yourself, what would you name it and why?
The Quiet Dreamer. I’m an introvert and daydreamer. I feel recharged when I’m in my studio, thinking, creating and dreaming.
4/What does your name mean?
My name means “pure.”
5/Which is heavier- a ton of feathers or a ton of steel?
Ahem. Moving on.
6/Three words to describe yourself.
Funny. Creative. Wonderer.
7/When you were a child, what was your answer to the question: what do you want to be when you grow up?
A veterinarian. What kid didn’t want to work with animals?
Thanks for sharing, Katie! Connect with her on instagram @thesecretzebra.
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