Pretty Real Home Series: Amber of Wills Casa - Pretty Real

Pretty Real Home Series: Amber of Wills Casa

9:00 AM

I'm a little sad. This is the last installment of our Pretty Real Home Series. I hope you've learned a few things along the way. I sure did. Today Amber will be sharing her wisdom with us. If you haven't visited her blog you should.  Go ahead. I'll wait. Just make sure to come back. ;) Amber blogs with her husband and I swear if it was a goal of theirs, they could be the next YHL. They are that good. Their home is gorgeous and while they're taking it one space at a time, I've seen enough to know the evolution is one worth watching. And also I can attribute my ever increasing use of black in my home directly to Amber and Nick. Hashtag trendsetters. So I've gushed enough. Let's chat with Amber!

Tiffany: Tell us a little about yourself and your family.
Amber: Oh boy where do I begin? I am a teacher turned stay at home mom turned blogger/realtor. I blog with my husband Nick about our home and life at Wills Casa. We live in a small Texas town where I grew up and came back to build a house...and get free babysitting since my parents are still here. We have 2 kids - Ramona (6) and Beckett (2). 

Tiffany: Maybe it's because I'm a bit of a 'mom blogger,' but I need to see more of those kiddos! I chose you for this series because you have beautiful and consistent style in your home. Have you always been good at decorating?
Amber: I want to say no to this because I remember how our first apartment looked, but I think that’s a style thing more than an I-didn’t-like-decorating thing. My style has thankfully evolved over the last 12 years. Nick was really the one who had all the drive in the beginning. He is still the big picture person while I’m the muscle behind the projects. I just fell into step with him, and it became a hobby of ours. Sometimes it’s a huge pain to have his opinion on things, and other times I’m so grateful for a different approach or confirmation that I am, in fact, not crazy.

Tiffany: It sounds so great to do this stuff as a team though! And also that your styles mesh enough to do so. Describe your style. What advice do you have for readers who haven't quite nailed theirs down yet?
Amber: Our style is eclectic modern quirk with some successful attempts at minimalism. So it’s basically all over the place. I think our dining room is the perfect example of our style. Our table is very traditional. Our chairs are antique with a DIY twist. Our art is quirk and minimal. Our chandelier is modern. Our rug is antique kilim. None of these things sound like they should go together, but that room is so us. We like to pair things in weird ways and mix styles.
If you’re struggling to nail your style down, just take comfort and know that whatever you do is your style. It doesn’t have to have a name or be perfectly defined. It’s original to you. Give yourself freedom to make mistakes and bravery to try something new and permission to get rid of things that just aren’t working. It takes time and lots of tweaking, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t nail it the first go around.

"Give yourself freedom to make mistakes and bravery to try something new and permission to get rid of things that just aren't working."
Tiffany: That's pretty powerful advice! I can get so stuck on rules and perfection! What's your number one piece of advice for keeping our homes pretty real-- pretty but realistic for life with kids?
Amber: Don’t let them see you throw away their art. I say that jokingly but also honestly. I hang up some things on their chalk wall for a bit, but there is art that you don’t need to save forever. Make a big deal about it. Foster that love of creating, but also let it go into the trash once it’s served that purpose. Same goes for tiny, cheap toys. The thrill of such things is short lived so should their time be in your home.
Tiffany: So true about cheap toys. Has your style evolved since having kids? If so, how? 
Amber: We are finding creative ways to make smudged fingerprints and smashed cheerios the new thing. But seriously after having kids, style like everything else just has more perspective. Yes I want a beautiful, put together home, but that’s not the most important thing. Being a family is. My kids need a place for their things and some freedom to be kids in all the rooms. I need to remember whatever is brought into this house will be beaten up, so buying a $10,000 rug isn’t the smartest choice. It will get peed on. Just to clarify peeing on things is not something I classify as “freedom to be kids”, but we are in the midst of potty training yeah it will get peed on.
"Yes I want a beautiful put together home, but that's not the most important thing. Being a family is."

Tiffany: Ha! I was thinking- wow that's freedom all right. And I love that you chose $1000 for your impractical rug price. Speaking of $10,000 rugs ;) what tips do you have for designing one's home on a budget? What’s your favorite source for affordable finds?
Amber: There are some things worth spending money on, so save and wait for those. Here’s looking at you new couch of my dreams!! Take stock of what you have on hand and use that first. Fill in the gaps as you go. This helps you focus on what you actually need which means you aren’t spending money aimlessly (and oh so easily) on your daily Target run - not that I have any experience in that department but I’ve heard. Rooms aren’t finished in a day unless you’re on an HGTV show, so give yourself time to save, search, and shop the sales. Also never underestimate the power of paint.
I generally buy new on big pieces, so sales will be my secret source for couches or anything upholstered. West Elm, Overstock, All Modern. I will gather project pieces at flea markets, facebook groups, or craigslist, but they have to crazy cheap to make it worth it. ACA - always check amazon. For small decor pieces, I love H&M, flea market, thrift stores, antique stores, etsy, and Homegoods. I just try to avoid too much from one place since I know the end result will be opposite of my style. I can’t achieve a look of all over the place without going all over the place!

Tiffany: Love your list of sources. I have to admit, my home is starting to look a bit like Target's aisle 14. The time it takes to "go all over the place" to furnish and decorate a home continues to surprise me! How do you stay true to yourself among all the inspiration via blogs and Pinterest?
Amber: Well part of staying true to myself is being in tune with what inspires me. Taking something I see on Pinterest and putting my own spin on it. I don’t spend hours on Pinterest because once I get started I know that’s what will happen. I try to limit my time, search for specific things, and be purposeful. I was looking at window treatments the other day because I was torn between Roman shades or wood blinds. Seeing what each looked like in real rooms helped me figure out what to do.
"Part of staying true to myself is being in tune with what inspires me." 

Tiffany: What's your favorite home trend right now?
Amber: I am loving the use of blush pink and pastels in rooms. I’m working on the guest room with some pastels, but I have to fight the urge to fill my office with wall to wall blush pink.
Tiffany: Don't fight it! I love blush too and it will definitely end up in my master. Which is your favorite room in your home and why?
Amber: The formal dining room because I feel like it nails our style. I love absolutely everything in there. Although Beckett’s nursery and Ramona’s room have my heart as well!

Tiffany: For those of you who don't know Beckett's nursery was featured in Lovable, Livable Home.  That's how awesome it is! Describe the most functional space in your home? What makes it work?

Amber: Our kitchen is definitely the most functional and used space in our home. The openness of the layout fits how we live and entertain. Everyone gathers around the island, and we eat and cook. It’s set up so we can host tasting menu type of dinners where the entire night revolves around the meal. I guess now that I’m thinking about it the kitchen is a contender for favorite room too!

Tiffany: I'm in love with your kitchen. Like if I wasn't already married... ;) What would you say to those who would like to make changes in their home but are clueless on how or where to start?
Amber: Start with looking at rooms you love and defining specifically what you like about it. Pick your big pieces first - couch, bed, etc. Then go look for rooms with pieces that are similar to what you are getting. You want a tan couch, go find rooms with tan couch. I like to break things down from biggest to smallest - starting with the bigger ticket items like a couch then finish with the small styling pieces. It’s easier to see the holes as the space comes together.

Tiffany: I am so impressed with those instructions! So clear and concise. What’s your biggest design challenge?
Amber: I have serious design ADD. I jump around from room to room, so nothing is ever fully finished. I guess you could say my biggest design challenge is getting myself to focus! Then all the other challenges -color, texture, layout - fall in right after that!
Tiffany: I too, suffer that malady. End with a favorite quote or motto (original or not- up to you!)- it can be design related, mama related, work related, attitude related- anything you live by that inspires you.
Amber: Have fun creating a home that’s uniquely you. Be gentle with yourself and don’t compare! Lara Casey says, “Comparison isn’t the thief of joy, it’s the thief of everything.” Friends that couldn’t be truer.

"Comparison isn't the thief of joy; it's the thief of everything."

Well said Amber. Thank you so much for sharing what you've learned on your journey of creating a beautiful practical haven for your brood. You can find Amber over at Wills Casa and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest

This concludes our Pretty Real Home Series. I've loved getting to know my friends a bit more and sharing their wisdom with you. ;) If you missed any of the other 4 interviews, you can click here to see them all.  Thanks for reading friends. Happy weekend!

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  1. What a great idea for a series! Love the real-life perspectives and down to earth advice, really inspiring and relatable :)

    1. thank you! I thought of it as I was trying to figure out how to design our new place! All these questions kept coming up...these ladies all have such great style! Happy to learn from them. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  2. oh my gosh! that nursery is gorgeous. i so wish i had the kind of eye for style and design they do!! love this, tiffany!

  3. Great blog post! You've inspired me to redecorate my home for spring!!

    1. I'll have to check back to see what you do Angela!

  4. Wow this home is fabulous! I love the kitchen storage room. THat is like my dream come true. Enjoying reading this post so much. Thanks for sharing with us.

    1. I am SO SO SO in love with amber's kitchen! stunning and practical! can't be that!

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  6. .....sorry....can't comment...... drooling. 💛

  7. So much fun. I love the quirkyness and pops of color

    1. the quirky touches are my fave! Thanks for the comment Krista! ♥