Katherine's Transformed Childhood Home

Katherine's Transformed Childhood Home

Susie Nadler
Feb 23, 2010

Name: Katherine Jalaty and Josh Rothman
Location: Napa, California
Size: 1800 square feet; 3 bedroom, 2 bath 1940s house (rented from Kat's mom!)
Years lived in: Kat's lived here her whole life (minus a good chunk of her twenties)—she grew up in the house; Josh moved in a year and a half ago

Kat and Josh's lovely cottage is one of those homes where every last little thing inspires a question. Where'd you get the idea for that? Where did you find those? Lucky for us, Kat's resource list is epically long and detailed; each of her objects and furnishings seems to come with a story, and many of them have been lovingly refurbished by Kat's own hand. The result is a home that radiates warmth and creativity.

It makes perfect sense that the home should feel so full of history; this is Kat's childhood home, after all, where she grew up. When her son, Henry, was born six years ago, her mother handed over the house to them, and Kat set about the gradual, years-long process of making the place her own. Now she and Henry share the house with her boyfriend, Josh, and there's evidence throughout of the talent and creativity of all three members of the household.

On top of being a mom, Kat wears many professional hats: She writes the wonderful crafty blog Making Chicken Salad; runs the online Pretty Zakka Shop, which is full of adorable housewares and craft supplies; and also does custom woodworking. Her studio at home overflows with yarns and fabrics in vintage-inspired saturated colors: aquas, peaches, cherry reds and butter yellows. This kind of Fiestaware-inspired palette continues throughout the house, infusing all of the rooms with retro cheer.

Kat's home is perfect for Home Hacks month; flip through her photos and try not to be inspired to go home and revamp a lampshade or paint a few thrift store chairs. If you want to know more about her crafty ventures, check out this nice little interview she gave on Paper n Stitch.

AT Survey:

My/Our style: Definitely eclectic! The styles of furniture in our home are all over the board—from late 1800s to mid-century to the Ikea bunkbed in Henry's room. While putting this together I realized that almost nothing we own is brand new (Henry's bed and the platform bed in our room are the only things I can think of!). Whether handed down or bought used, nearly every item in our home has some years behind it. While this is most certainly an economic issue at this point in time, I am not sure that it would change if our budget increased. Josh and I both like for things to tell a story, and appreciate when the hand of the maker is evident.

Inspiration: Although I love to look at design magazines and highly stylized rooms, my biggest source of inspiration is reading blogs and seeing what real people are doing in their homes. A lack of money for interior elements is definitely an issue for us, and I love seeing creative ideas for making your home inviting and happy without spending a fortune.

Favorite Element: All of the bright and cozy places to sit in the family room. The huge window allows plenty of light and a view into the backyard.

Biggest Challenge: Transforming this house from my mother's into my own. She was getting ready to move at about the same time my son, Henry, was born six years ago. When she moved out she took her personal items, but basically left the house completely furnished. Slowly but surely I began swapping out her things with those of my own and refurbishing some of her items to better suit my taste. It has been a long process, but the space is finally at the point where it feels like our own and really looks nothing like it did when she lived here.

What Friends Say: "Will you come decorate my house?"

Biggest Embarrassment: Unfinished projects (such as the stairs) and all of the little things that need fixing and attention, such as paint touch-ups and the random doorknob/etc which needs to be replaced. Although there was an extensive remodel/addition in the early 1990s, many parts of the house are still original and need some love.

Proudest DIY: Recovering the faux Eames Lounge Chair. I bought it on Craigslist for $50 and the original upholstery was icky black vinyl, which was chewed up in quite a few places. I purchased a brown hide from the local leather warehouse and recovered both the chair and the footstool in about two hours. That chair is definitely a favorite with everyone!

Biggest Indulgence: Buying artwork, whether original or prints. I am really trying not to bring things into the house that we do not need or that do not perform some sort of necessary function (easier said than done for me!). However, there are so many artists whose work I love, and this house has a lot of wall space!

Best advice: Surround yourself with things you love and make your home work for your own life and your own family. I know perfectly well that many people would not want to live in my home (and vice versa!), but everything here has been carefully arranged to accommodate our lifestyle. And, do not be afraid to change things around! I am constantly fiddling with the layout of things and rearranging until I get it right.

Dream source: ABC Carpet and Home


Family Room/Dining Room:
Sofa: Church Mouse Thrift Shop in Sonoma, CA; $45
Coffee table: Belonged to my mom, and had three coats of paint on it. I stripped them all off and applied a light gray wash.
Faux Eames lounge chair: Craigslist, $50; new leather, $100
"Olives: Origins of Napa Valley" poster: NapaStyle by Michael Chiarello
Gray side table next to Eames chair: Formerly a plain pine nightstand belonging to my mom. Inspired by a DIY on Design*Sponge, I added the trim to the drawers, a coat of paint and vintage knobs (which I found in the garage—my dad used to own an apartment building and they came from there).
Typewriter, macramé plant holder, chalk board and lamp by Eames chair: All thrifted (I added the fabric and trim to the lampshade).
Yellow fiberglass chair: There are four of these throughout the house. They are made by Kreuger Plastics, and I bought them on Craigslist.
TV stand: Thrifted for $6 and given a new coat of citrus-colored paint and a pale blue vintage milk glass knob.
Small bamboo table: I have had it for over 10 years and can't remember where I bought it! The lamp was made 30 or so years ago, from an old copper cooking pot, by a friend of my parents, and I painted the gray stripes onto the linen shade. The hotrod painting above is by Steve Caballero, who gave it to Josh a few years go.
Dining table: Belonged to my mom. I stripped and stained it (much darker now than it was originally). The ladderback chairs were bought with the table (I painted them), and I bought the bentwood chair for $5 at a local thrift shop.
Pale green table with white top: Bought at a local antique mart (now out of business).
Oak tree painting: By my sister Andrea.
Teapot lamp: I made it.
Various linens stacked next to lamp: All thrifted.

Dollhouse: Melissa and Doug
Table dollhouse sits on: Thrifted and given a coat of black spray paint.
Henry's desk and chairs: Came from a Sunday School at a church in Alameda, CA.
Star paintings above his desk: Painted by his dad, Greg.
Granny square bunting: I made it.
On the counter: Mixer: KitchenAid; Bigger's Honey can: Vintage from a Ventura, CA (where my parents are from) honey producer; Small balsa tray: Pretty Zakka Shop; Burger and fries salt and pepper shakers: Painted by my mom.
Dishes in the cabinet: Some thifted, some from Anthropologie.

Living room:
Unfinished pine hooks by the front door: Home Depot
Woven basket for shoes: Ross Dress for Less
Photo of Henry: Taken by Mama and printed on canvas by uprinting.com.
Rug: Urban Outfitters
Yellow table: Old stool bought at a local antique shop.
Formica record player (which works PERFECTLY): $10 at an antique shop in Berkeley.
Table the record player sits on: Made by a former neighbor.
Replica posters (in Ikea Ribba frames): eBay
Fiberglass rocking chair: Vintage shell on a replica frame (both bought on eBay).
Vintage Japanese formica coffee table: Bought at a local consignment shop.
Print above the mantle: By Jill Bliss, in an Ikea Ribba frame.

Katherine and Josh's bedroom:
Green cabinet with an old window for a door: Made by a local furniture shop
Dresser and side table: Josh bought them out of the newspaper!
Antique desk: Belongs to my dad; teacher's desk from Santa Barbara, CA.
Wooden Chair: Found by my dad in the basement of a house he flipped over 30 years ago.

Guest room/Office:
Antique industrial sewing machine and table: Free on Craigslist! The machine does not function, but I think both it and the table are so beautiful that I have kept them.
Framed lady with roses: My mom bought this when she first moved into the house.
Black and white photo: My grandmother (it is her granny square afghan on the guest cot).
Guest bed: Camping cot from Walmart—a regular twin bed is a few inches too long to fit in this little nook, but the cot fits perfectly! Blue floral pillow case is thrifted, and the throw pillows are both from Urban Outfitters. The granny square afghan was made for my grandmother by her mother.
Rug: Ikea
Wallpaper: Put up by my dad before my sister was born. This was her (and later Henry's) nursery!

Katherine's studio (which is the third bedroom, and the only bedroom downstairs):
Blue formica table and chairs: Thrifted
Large wooden work table: A giant piece of plywood that Josh brought home from work with metal folding legs from Home Depot attached to the bottom.
Mid-century chair: $5 at Goodwill. A coat of black spray paint and slipcovers for the cushions made from a natural cotton dropcloth from the hardware store (this is my favorite type of fabric—I use it for EVERYTHING!).
Sewing machine: Vintage Morse Zig-Zag, $10 at the same antique shop as the record player. Again—works perfectly!
Sewing chair: $10 from the local saddle shop when it went out of business—I think they bought it new!
Dress form: eBay
Rug: Antique hooked wool

(Thanks, Katherine!)

Images: Katherine Jalaty

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