"My husband and I bought our house when I was pregnant with our first-born nine years ago. It was a foreclosure and previously owned by someone who was trying to "flip" it. We did not like the design choices he made but we loved the neighborhood and luckily, choosing to buy in Venice, California has been a great investment," writes blogger and designer Kristin Dion. "Over time, we have made several improvements. We replaced all the doors, added hardwood floors in the bedrooms, remodeled the kitchen, added bi-fold doors and a deck off the kitchen/dining area and built-ins in the family and living rooms. Our next project is the master bathroom!"
Name: Kristin Dion, her husband, 8-year-old son, 5-year-old daughter and their dog
Location: Venice, California
Size: 1,850 square feet
Years lived in: 8.5 years, owned
Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: In these nine years, my career has changed drastically. When we bought the house, I was a lawyer working long hours at a law firm. After I had my first child, I quickly learned how much I LOVED being home with him and had a hard time paying a nanny or daycare for my dream job. When my son was two, I quit my job and contributed financially by working part time as a legal recruiter. My daughter was born a year later and at that time I stayed home full time. Being home led to more home projects, some designing for friends, and I taught myself to sew. I really got in touch with my creative side! I visit local flea markets to buy vintage fabrics and started sewing my own pillows. I have a "pillow problem" and love switching out my pillows and other home accessories often to keep everything fresh. My supportive husband and friends suggested I start selling my pillows online. Well now, a little over a year later, I have several design clients and my own small shop on my website. I am SO HAPPY. I get to spend time with my kids on my schedule and at the same time have my own small business for me. Sometimes it is pretty nutty running my own little gig but I love it and am truly pursuing my dream, which feels really good.
My husband works nearby in Venice and bikes to work. We recently downsized to one car and rarely have to deal with the "LA traffic" people complain about. We live walking distance to the beach, shops and restaurants and rarely even get in our car on the weekends unless we are roadtripping somewhere or driving to Malibu for a hike. He loves his job, is super supportive of me pursuing my dream, is the best dad, and my best friend. I love him deeply.
Our son is eight and our daughter is five. They are sweet, kind, loud and funny. They are both athletic but also have a very creative side. Our son loves to invent and our daughter loves to draw. We are so proud of both of them and love spending time together as a family.
Our beloved dog Penda is 10 years old. We got her shortly after our African honeymoon. We volunteered in Tanzania for our honeymoon and while doing so, picked up some Swahili words. Penda means love. She follows me around everywhere and is the sweetest most snuggly lap dog ever.
If you could magically change something about your home, what would it be? My dream house would have a kitchen/family room open to the backyard. Creating the deck off our dining space (which is entirely open to our living room and kitchen) helped with this dream. But if I could magically change something, I would add a bigger backyard. We love hanging out as a family at home. If we had more outdoor space for the kids to play, explore and run around in, we could stay home even more! Maybe it's a good thing we have a small yard — we leave our home to run around in nature often. We love to hike in Malibu and bike to our local Venice beach. Silver lining? :)
What is your favorite room and why? I love our dining room and deck area. The deck is technically on our "driveway" to our garage, which is in our backyard. The driveway is too narrow for a modern car, so when we moved in, we gated it at the front of the house to create a sideyard. For years, it was rarely used and only served as a walkway to the backyard and garage. When we added the bifold doors and the deck, it was as if we added on a new room. Since we live in SoCal and the weather is nice year-round, the doors are almost always open creating an indoor/outdoor space for us to sit and enjoy morning coffee and relax with the family. Even when we eat inside, we are connected with the outside, which we love.
Any advice for creating a home you love? In reaction to my Instagram posts, people often ask me how I keep my house so tidy — especially considering I have two kids. The truth is it isn't always picked up and clean. For me, "home" means a place that is fun and comfortable for all of us. I want my kids to feel free to make a mess, pull out toys and crafts and just be them. But I also want a place I am proud of that is pretty and comfortable for me and my husband to relax in. If toys were everywhere, I would not be comfortable. So for us, the key is having a place for everything. Even the kids know where everything belongs. Built-in cabinets in our family/playroom were important to hold toys. So yes, they have fun and make messes but they know how to clean up, too.
I also think it is important to accessorize. My favorite accessories are pillows and plants. I love decorating with neutrals and woods and adding pops of color through pillows and plants. It gives our home a styled but natural vibe.
Thanks, Kristin Dion!
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