An Unpretentious Creative Phoenix Home
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Name: Kristoffer Keul and Carrie Bloomston
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Size: 1,750 square feet
Years lived in: 14 years; Owned
Kristoffer Keul and Carrie Bloomston are on a mission to enable creativity, and their home is the center of operations. Carrie has a book that helps people find their creative spark. Her expertise on the subject shows throughout their home, but there are two projects that I found particularly enchanting:
The entry wall was born from a desire to find a cool way to spotlight their children’s artwork. She drew the frames on the wall in pencil and then changes out the artwork every few weeks. “I think it is super important to honor children’s creativity by making their work front and center in the main living spaces so they feel supported. I feel that hiding their work just in their rooms doesn’t let it feel important enough.”
The treehouse was built as a way to give their summer some structure. “Our kids were not in many camps and we were doing a hundred puzzles in the July heat… hiding inside. I knew we needed a big project we could all do together and so the tree fort somehow popped up!” The entire family planned out the footprint to scale using fallen bark while on vacation in Sedona. That whimsical and organic beginning laid the groundwork for a fort I, for one, would have zero shame hanging out in.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Unpretentious. Real. It is a post-ironic, eclectic, happy family home. A bit too loud. A bit too messy. But totally creative and happy. It is real. We spend a lot of time together in our small space and you can feel the energy when you come in. We really live in our house. We like it. We like us.
Inspiration: I am inspired by beautiful textiles. Our dream house would probably be an old farm house, an old table with breadboard ends and a drawer in the middle. The whole modern thing we have going on is a function of the age we live in and the materials we could use and design with inexpensively, hence we designed and built our kitchen using MDF…a modern choice for sure. But if we both had our dream house it would be much softer and more antiquey and kilim-y and lamp-y and plant-y. But the thing is, it is just a place and we love it exactly as it is… when you live somewhere long enough, you feel the time around you—it comes in the morning light and the constantly changing seasonal placement of the sun. You become intimate with the seasons from the vantage of light and how certain windows are illuminated in fall and certain others are blazing in summer as the sun changes its position in the sky. This is the sonnet, the tapestry, the ode to the house. Poets don’t need much more than a kitchen table and the changing sun as a source for inspiration. It is a slow song we dance through time. It moves with us. So what inspires me? Being a good mom to my children is way more inspiring than any design style or idea. We just want it to be loving and happy here.
Favorite Element: Our kids’ art wall. We love creativity around here. My husband and I are both trained artists and he is becoming a therapist. Honoring children’s creativity feels really important. It honors their work to show it in the main spaces of the house instead of just their rooms, because it shows them that it is valued in our home. In our case, it is the main part of the home, just as you walk in! I drew some artful picture frames on the wall using an art pencil. I based the sizes on their most common artwork sizes. I drew until the wall was full and as the kids make new art, we rotate the art into the frames. Some things have stayed for a year or more, but other stuff is constantly changing. We just use scotch tape to tape the art into each frame and sometimes frames. It is fun and casual and rather sacred.
Biggest Challenge: Small space. We don’t have a lot of stuff, but storing four bedrooms worth of bedding, for example, can be tricky in a home designed and built in 1952. I really like the message this house gives us via 1952. It says: you are enough, you have enough, be so grateful with what you have. That is how we live. I like my closets to be as clean as the rest of the house, but lately they are overflowing! I am always going through our stuff and the kids’ stuff and moving things along to people who need it. I am not too attached to stuff and that helps keep us from being hemmed in by our possessions. I always say that you can feel it when your possessions are beginning to possess you. When your stuff is in charge and telling you what to do, you know it is time to move some stuff out! When I do a big cleaning and clearing out (about twice a year) I set the intention of getting rid of 30% of the stuff in a space.
What Friends Say: People always tell us it feels so calm and loving in here. It is most certainly loving, although not always calm! Life with kids is chaotic and noisy and calm and connected all at different times. We like us just the way we are. We feel really lucky as a family to hang out so much. Our poor sofa is threadbare and buttonless because it has been our landing pad for so long…and it has been a fort 100 times, and we have all slept on it and…
Biggest Embarrassment: Piles of laundry EVERYWHERE and at all times. I can’t keep up. I often fantasize about hiring a laundry elf.
Proudest DIY: Our kick ass tree fort. We designed it last summer. We all built it together (read: my husband built it in the 110 degree heat in August in Phoenix and I kept the kids away from sharp tools) but I helped!! I was chief foreman and designer. The broken chevron walls made from upcycled wood are my favorite visual moment. It soothes me to look at something so artful and interesting. We cut up an old outdoor Ikea dining table to use as some of the wood… it is the more silvery wood.
Biggest Indulgence: The amazing sink made from a big carved stone in our so-called master bathroom. When we bought it at wholesale for $950 with my mom who is an interior designer, we brought it home and I couldn’t believe I had done something so totally indulgent! It felt like a fortune to spend on a sink. And yet, ten years later it looks exactly the same–a serene, zen moment taken from belly of the earth.
Best Advice: Be who you are.
Dream Sources: At the risk of sounding arrogant, which I don’t mean at all, I kind of think what we have is dreamy.
PAINT & COLORS
We always use no VOC paints. Worth it! Master bedroom is HC-44 Lenox Tan by Benjamin Moore. Whole house is Snowbound 8583 by Sherwin Williams. Daughter’s room is DE 6004 Prize Winning Orchid by Dunn Edwards. Son’s room is Drenched Rain by Dunn Edwards.
The rug was given to us from a client— it is the softest New Zealand wool. The credenza was also a gift, made by a modern furniture designer in Santa Fe. The Buddhist thangka on the wall is special to me. I found it in a flea market in Hong Kong when I was twenty-one years old. It is just pinned to the wall. One day I will frame it, but I always like having it near me.
The table was a custom design. A steel guy made it for us. We rotate birch ply tops every few years. As soon as there is too much Sharpie on it, we get a new one. The chairs were found in a trash pile in New York City when we lived there. They are of South American origin. We refinished them. On the wall is a Rajasthani tapestry we love and we bought 18 years ago at the Santa Fe flea market. In our little sacred space is a Buddha covered in crystals and malas. My amazing designer friend makes those malas for her company, Silver and Sage jewelry.
Our amazingly talented architect friends, Chris Alt and Christiana Moss of Studio MA in Phoenix, AZ, designed our kitchen remodel on a single sheet of paper as a favor to us. We executed it to a tee! My husband built and installed the cabinets using MDF. Our studio was a wood shop for a while. The counters are Caeserstone.
Duvet is a quilt from Pottery Barn, the aqua throw is a vintage kantha from West Elm. I designed and made the Nest Quilt.
Boy room: furniture – Ikea. Duvet – Ikea. Olds maps on walls. I designed and made the Fox pillow.
We designed the custom table from steel and wenge wood. The rock sink is from Stone Forest. The travertine for the shower was given to us by a client. It was a leftover for her job.
A local design firm, Urban Earth, created a landscape plan for the front and backyard. Then we had a normal contractor guy dumb it down and make it affordable for us. I like the way it worked.
I created the painting over the bed in the master bedroom. It is called Maya. Kristoffer’s wood sculptures are around, including a tall one in the kitchen. And the children’s art fills the house.
Thanks, Kristoffer and Carrie!
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Re-edited from a tour originally published August 2014 — AB