When we heard Brooke White was a fan of A Beautiful Mess and she wanted to be part of our At Home With series, we were like … YES, please. Today, she’s sharing her remodeled home (spoiler alert: it’s bright, airy and sooo cozy) and a little bit about her new single, and record—which is coming soon!
“We moved into this house 2011–pre-kids! Little did we know we’d be bringing a little baby London home a year later. Moving from the craziness of the valley out to the quiet suburbs of Ventura County, however, was definitely an intentional step in moving towards starting a family, we just didn’t know how soon. But this was a home we could grow into—not too big, not too small.
It was built in the ’70s, and at first glance was nothing special. When we walked in, my husband immediately said “heck no” and I said “heck yes” because I could see a diamond in the rough! It was a fixer upper with loads of potential but also loads of teal … teal walls, teal floors, teal ceilings, teal tile, teal carpet … ALL THE TEAL TEAL TEAL! I can understand why my husband wasn’t jazzed, but I caught a vision and loved the idea of a project and making it our own. I managed to talk Dave into it, talking up the view from the balcony, the only redeeming quality for him. Prior to moving in, we de-tealed the house immediately, sanding down the wood floors to their natural shade and restaining them, scraping popcorn teal ceilings and resurfacing every wall and giving it a fresh coat of paint inside.
It’s become hard for me to figure out which room I love the most, because the older I get, and the longer I live here, the more I’ve been able to really pull it together and wait for the things I really loved. If I had to choose, it would be a toss-up between my music room (I love all the natural light from the skylights and the whole vibe in there) and the front room—how it turned out with all the records and the old baby grand piano. But then again, we spend so much time as a family in the family room that opens up into the kitchen. The best decision we made in this house was to knock down the wall and join these two spaces; it’s really changed the way we live!
I think what I love the most about my home are the fun treasures I’ve thrifted and made along the way … such as my blue leather Chesterfield sofa in my front room. I got it at The Deseret Industries Thrift Store in Gilbert, Arizona (where I’m from and was home for Christmas) for 30 DOLLARS! Yep, $30! Luckily, we had brought the truck, so we loaded it up and brought it back to California! I had a giant blank wall space behind it, so I decided to add some vinyl covers in frames I spray painted red above it to create a huge display of some of my favorite records as works of art! It makes me happy every time I look at it!
I also love the old church pew in our office between our front room and kitchen dining table. The space in there was unique and narrow, so I had the thought to look for a church pew on Craigslist. It was New Year’s Day and I found one instantly—an hour and $100 later, the man who sold it to me brought it to my house and it has stayed there ever since. It fits perfectly there. I did sand it down quite a bit, and have had a handful of people ask me if I considered ever selling it, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to part with it.I’ve also created some of our art, including the diptych blue bike on the wall and framed photos I’ve taken. I always wanted to buy real art, but because of my budget could rarely afford it, so I have made a lot of my own. But I also have found some incredibly special pieces at the thrift store, two of which are textile and thread arts from the early ’70s! I love art so much and am thankful that I was able to come across such treasures for such great prices.
We just crossed the eight-year mark in May—we’ve spent half our married life here. What we’ve learned is that, contrary to the Pinterest/Instagram illusions, the process of making a house your HOME doesn’t happen overnight. I joke that it took about 2,967 days/nights to figure this place out, and we’re still working on it! It feels like years of waiting to find the right pieces for the right prices. To save up enough to fix this, and renovate that. It requires a lot of patience and trial and error, and sometimes settling on things you don’t really love. Our house was a hodgepodge of hand-me-downs and random thrifted things. It still is, by design and necessity. I’ve embraced the eclectic default and ran with it.
We did the initial cosmetic fixes when we first moved in, but there was loads more of work to be done, which we have done along the way, including landscaping, knocking down a wall, a full kitchen and master bathroom remodel and dozens of weekend projects. When we first moved in, I chose grey for most the rooms (yellow for the kitchen and pale blue for the family room) and I had a gig out of town while the painters were here. When I got home, the color was much more taupe-tan than I had hoped and wanted to repaint it immediately … but it wasn’t in the budget. So one by one, I have turned each room white and I love how open and clean it feels! We also did away with the carpet upstairs with wood floors to match the rest of the house the month before Sonny was born, and they were finished the day before I went into labor.
At this point in my home it feels good, it feels personal, it feels intentional. Having children changes your life and home massively. I’ve learned that you have to create your space with them in mind—lots of storage for toys and a space designated for art and crafts. London is artsy and leaves a trail of glitter everywhere she goes. I often have to let go of perfection, and embrace this messier-than-I-like season, because it’s short, and it’s good to remember that a house is for living!
I’m super excited to soon be releasing my upcoming record Calico, (hybrid for California Country, which is exactly what this record is) on October 4, 2019! This is my first true country album to date, and while I’ve always leaned into that singer-songwriter sound, I’ve had it in my heart to make a country album for a long, long time. I had planned to make it in Nashville, but again, having kids changes everything. I was still nursing sonny boy and walking London to kindergarten, so I realized that I wasn’t going to just up and leave my life and family in LA to make a country record in Tennessee.
So, I stayed and made one here close to my family and home and it really worked out better than I could have imagined. And that is exactly what the title track Calico is all about … blooming where you’re planted, making the most of it and loving it. It’s the most modern and fun thing I’ve done musically to date. And I am thrilled to be offering it on vinyl for the first time in my music making life! And it’s bright yellow like the sun.”
Love to see our At Home series? Check out…
–At Home with Natalie Ensor in Nashville, Tennessee
–At Home with Brooke White in Thousand Oaks, California
–At Home with Bela Fishbeyn in Boulder Creek, California