When Rachel Anderson and her family moved into a builder grade home, she knew the house needed a major facelift. The home was spacious, had great bones and room sizes, and was in their perfect neighborhood but also was cheaply finished and without much personality. Rachel says, “We moved in 3 weeks before the birth of our second daughter.  My focus for our home was to create a livable, approachable style with a clean, timeless aesthetic.  I also wanted our home to be family-friendly without skimping on style so every piece was chosen based on a balance of function and beauty, and ultimately in its ability to withstand the impact of two toddlers…no easy feat!” Little did Rachel know as she was transforming her home, she was also changing her life – and career – forever.

What sparked your interest in interior design? 
Oh man, that’s a tough question…I launched my design business, Harper Rae Design Co, at the age of 39 so I feel like I got a late start in the industry.  Looking back, I can see moments of influence scattered throughout my life. One of my earliest memories is flipping through magazines to pick a new bed set for my 6th birthday.  I did the same thing all over again for my 7th!  Even then, I was interested in different styles of decor and remember being intrigued by how the feeling of a room changed when you introduce different colors and patterns.

More recently, a series of events pushed me to turn my passion into a full-time career, most notably was designing and managing my second personal home renovation.  What struck me was how much I loved the entire process from start to finish, not only the satisfaction of the end result.  My last renovation also came at a time when I was looking for a creative outlet as a SAHM.  I was looking for something that would gave me the flexibility to schedule my own hours so I could prioritize time with my two daughters, age 2 and 3, so running an interior design studio from home while spending time with my girls was the best of both worlds!

Getting back to your home, where did you get started? 
Six months after moving in, we started by renovating the kitchen and family room since those rooms were going to get the most use.  In my own home, I tend to gravitate towards a neutral palette with hints of blues.  With two little girls now in the mix, pink began making more of an appearance and soon I found myself incorporating a coastal vibe with sandy neutral shades, watery blues and soft pinks from ocean sunsets. The overall mix is calming and inviting, which is just what I wanted our home to feel like to visitors and to make everyday life as a WAHM feel smoother and calmer.  

Soon after we finished our renovation, I focused on the nursery and playroom.  The playroom was one of the best design decisions I’ve made, especially while trying to run my design business from home while two toddlers running wild. (more below)

Which element could be considered a budget option, and which was a splurge item?
I like to splurge on large furniture pieces we plan to have a long time like the sofas, our dining room table, and the vintage oushak rug in our family room.  I also ended up investing in our beast of an ottoman.  I was nervous about such a large purchase, but was so glad I followed my gut because it has endured more climbing and jumping by our girls than I could have imagined.  It’s been through the ringer these last couple of years but continues to look like new!  I highly recommend a cloth-covered ottoman in a home with young kids, the surface is soft and durable and there’s no pointy corners to worry about.  

To balance out costs, I sourced more affordable accessory items like pillows, lamps and art.  Even our accent chairs and bar stools were super affordable.  Although I will say, even when I choose cost-effective options, I still make sure the pieces are sturdy and well-made.  The whole experience has given me so much insight into how to design for families in a way that is sophisticated but without feeling too precious or impossible to maintain.

See Rachel’s home in the slideshow!