It’s often been said that there’s no place like home. And these days, we couldn’t agree more. Our dwellings go beyond a resting place, it is also a place of solace, tranquility, and joy. Amid these uncertain times, it has brought us comfort to see how the individuals in our Instagram community have savored the season - as challenging as it may be.
And most recently, we've been swooning over Amanda Jane Jones's Scandinavian-inspired space. On top of being a freelance graphic designer and mother of three, AJJ has most recently added “children’s book author and illustrator” to her ever-increasing repertoire. We caught up with her to reflect on motherhood, city-living, and the meaning of home.
Tell us about your home! How did you find it, and how long have you lived here?
I love this home! It's a special place for our family. We've lived in the building for 7 years, and we brought all of our kids home from the hospital here. It's an old building built around 1910. We first lived in the two-bedroom apartment next door but moved to the neighboring three-bedroom unit three years ago to make room for our growing family. We rent our old apartment to my brother and his family, which has been one of the greatest gifts! Sitting out on the back porch (on our swings) after the kids have gone to bed are some of my favorite memories.
What are you going to miss the most about this space after you move?
The windows! They bring in so much natural light. It's heavenly. The tall ceilings and beautiful crown molding as well! The apartment’s classic architecture will always be in style. I also love the proximity to the lake and our little backyard. And of course, all of the memories. We've done so much living and loving and learning here together. It will be so hard to leave. I get very sentimental about homes. I warned my husband, Cree, that I'm going to ugly cry when we leave, and he responded, "so will I."
What are you looking for in your next home or what, if anything, would you do differently in terms of designing?
We are hoping to find something that hasn't been touched much since it was built. People often renovate, and as a result, the home loses its charm. As for what we'd do differently in terms of designing? Absolutely nothing! In fact, we are hiring an electrician to take out all of our Schoolhouse light fixtures so we can take them with us to our next home! That's what I love about clean, minimal home decor - it's timeless. We've had so many of our pieces as long as we've lived here, and I anticipate we'll use them for many more years to come.
Where do you find inspiration for your home? And for your illustrations?
My husband and I love to go thrifting and antiquing. We're inspired by old heirlooms, and we are also big fans of Scandinavian and mid-century modern design. Our home is full of one of a kind pieces we've serendipitously found at antique stores in the middle of nowhere.
How do you go about designing a minimal and clean home that also functions for your three kids?
Organization! I'm all about baskets, tins, and boxes. Each toy has it's own container, so it's easy for the kids to help clean up. It's also way more fun for them because they know exactly where everything is and don't need me to get anything out for them. I also utilize my closet space to the max. I shared an embarrassing image of my jam-packed closet on Insta-stories the other day—linens and Christmas decor has to go somewhere right?
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
I'd say we like clean and minimal with a side of quirky antiquity. A neutral pallet with pops of color.
What are your recommendations for future things to do and places to go in Chicago?
My number one thing is bike rides along Lake Michigan! Next, is a beach day on the lake. We also frequent the Art Institute of Chicago (their kid's room is free and it's amazing!), the Museum of Science and Industry, and the Children's Museum. Finally, we love to eat...so much. Our favorites are Marisol, Lula Cafe (brunch), Antique Taco, Parson's Chicken and Fish, Bang Bang Pie, Lonesome Rose, Plein Air Cafe, Avec, and the Publican.
Any advice or words of wisdom for other parents who are raising kids in a big city?
Live it up while you can! We are about to move, and I'm crushed about it. I've loved living in Chicago. It's been a magical place to raise our family. I've never lived anywhere so economically and culturally diverse, and it's been such a wonderful experience. Second, if your neighbors complain about the kid’s noise, have the kids deliver a yummy plate of cookies.
You have done quite a few product collaborations and are now a published book author (congrats!), are there other dream projects you hope to check off the list?
Oh my goodness, you're so kind. Writing and illustrating a children's book was always a dream of mine. We're actually almost through with negotiations for a second book in the series! It will come out next year! We're very excited. As for next on my design bucket list, I'd love to do a mural or two!
What has it been like to have such a strong social media following? What do you like or dislike about the Instagram community?
What a wild ride! To be honest, some weeks I want to quit. But most of the time, I find it extremely inspiring and rewarding. Everywhere we travel, we meet people through the app. When we moved here from Chicago, I knew no one, and I found my real-life friends through Instagram! When I suffered a second-trimester miscarriage, I was sent countless messages with love and comfort. When I returned from the hospital, a woman I never met sent me money to go get a pedicure. These amazing acts of kindness have taught me so much and prompted me to do the same for others. It's full of wonderful people, kindness, and love.
Your home décor decisions seem very thoughtful. What is it about Schoolhouse pieces you are drawn to?
So many things! They are timeless and classic with simple lines, but also have unique shapes that feel more like artwork. A beautiful mix of function and beauty.
What are your top 5 favorite Schoolhouse items and why?
The Shelby Mod Pendant: It's a bold focal point that looks beautiful no matter what's on the table - laundry, dinner, legos or otherwise.
The Schoolhouse Clock: It's classic, and one of those heirloom pieces I know (hope) my kids will want.
Schoolhouse Throw Pillows: I love the ace&jig pillows especially because I have the jacket in the same fabric, and I'm a dork and like to match everything.
The Radar Sconces: Such a fun addition to the kid's room! The kids LOVE to read, and it's been fun to peek in their room on the nights they can't fall asleep to find them nose deep in their favorite picture book.
The Please Wash Hands Sign: It makes me giggle every time I see it! I put it in the kid's bathroom, which is ironic because two of them can't read yet. And it's the bathroom that gets the dirtiest of all. I joke that Schoolhouse should make one that says, "please aim carefully" for above the toilet!
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Photography courtesy of Amanda Jane Jones