Tucked away in Portland’s urban forest sits the Fritsch family home, a 1970s architect-built house filled with an abundance of art and endless personality. With its soulful, style-forward touches and its intrinsically playful palette, their beautiful dwelling perfectly embodies the Fritsch family’s cool, casual energy.
Sara and her family were recently featured in Domino Magazine (check out the full story here), and we couldn’t resist sharing some photos of our own. Below, we asked Sara to tell us more about her space, personal style, and how she navigated the past year as a working mother and President of Schoolhouse.
Tell us about your home in one sentence.
A good place to have a good time.
How long have you lived here and who do you share the home with?
I’ve lived here for 4.5 years with my husband Oliver, and two kids, Winter and Penelope.
If you had to choose three themes that inspired your home design, what would they be?
1970s: The house was built in 1970, the original 70s-style pool, authentic neon, disco ball, Oliver and I were both born in the 70s.
Pacific Northwest: Plaid, casual, support local artists, big windows to see the trees and beautiful sunset views.
Utilitariglam playground: Functional with a glamorous twist represented by utilitarian materials: heavy use of plywood, pegboard, locker bins, playful, fun-first, features.
What does a day-in-the-life as President of Schoolhouse look like?
As President, no two days are the same, and I love that. I have a wide range of accountability and opportunity. I care deeply about our team and am keenly aware that the success and future of Schoolhouse are carried by the team.
My job is to define and communicate the goals, keep the diverse, cross-functional team aligned to those goals, and remove any obstacles along the way. On any given day, I help supply chain challenges, collaborate on future product assortments, strategize on content creation, help manage vendor relationships, lead our DEI initiative, actively participate in our recruiting efforts.
To you, what sets Schoolhouse apart?
The vertical integration of our business differentiates us from most retail brands, and accordingly, the President role here is much different. Safely and successfully operating a factory (through a pandemic, or at all) as part of a customer-facing retail brand requires a broader range of awareness, strategy, and teamwork.
We recently heard that your Fritsch family calendar inspired the designs for the Schoolhouse Big Picture Calendar. Could you tell us more about how your home calendar came to be?
I started making my version of this around 2012. We had just moved to Europe, my husband was traveling a bunch for work, I was juggling a career and small kids, and we had about a jillion house guests. I was determined to make the most of our opportunity to live abroad for three years.
If you had to choose one favorite from our Fall 2021 collection, what would it be?
The Teig Lamp is an instant Schoolhouse icon in my mind. It has all of the markings of an heirloom — the dimmer knob (the clicking sound, the satisfying turning motion, etc.), the bold palette, the unique dough shade, the list goes on.
It’s clear to see that art plays an integral role in your home and lives. Could you share a bit more about why you appreciate it so much?
I believe in my heart that art and happiness are the two things that make a house into a home. I studied art in college (along with engineering) and I've always been passionate about creating it and collecting it.
"I believe in my heart that art and happiness are the two things that make a house into a home."
What’s your favorite art piece?
Penelope’s Frida Kahlo portrait with the rolling eyes.
Any honorable mentions?
A cute drawing Oliver did when he was 5, Mia Farrington’s piece in the ping pong room, Famillle Summerbelle’s paper cut Amsterdam Map that hangs in our stairwell.
We have to ask about the wallpaper in your bedroom. What inspired the design?
Parents often say they wish they could freeze time. I feel like we kind of did that with this wallpaper. We captured our family engaging in a handful of magical Portland moments that have been meaningful to us, and (with help from graphic designer, Chloe Kendall, and a custom printer) we turned them into a toile pattern. It's a fun pairing with our neon fireplace which was made by Perry Pfister and his Portland-based company The Tiny Spoon.
Do you have any ground rules or family values you live by?
We don’t take ourselves, or anything, too seriously. We like to have a good time and try to keep life light.
How do you see Schoolhouse’s values intersecting with your own?
I care a lot about people and relationships. Schoolhouse is a brand that would be nothing without the engaged cross-functional team behind every detail of the brand.
I am passionate about all things home — what home means to people, how the home plays a role in making memories, how the home changes over time, etc. My values translate into my work well — Schoolhouse is not just a lighting company. We obsess over the details that contribute to making spaces meaningful.
It’s been a challenging year, to say the least. How have you maintained your work/life balance?
As a brand, we were forced to get even more crisp about what we needed to focus on. The same has been true at home. Through it all, we have tried to stay clear about what matters most — family time, our health, embracing childhood magic, and continuing to learn and grow.
What are a few things you and your family enjoy doing together at home?
Soccer, lacrosse, skateboarding, surfing, swimming, trampoline, family meals, hosting dinner parties and pool parties.
Are there any themes or lessons that have helped you navigate the year?
Three themes that have helped me navigate the highs and lows are:
Control your inputs: This is what Oliver says to me every time I start a sentence with, “I just read/heard" and it is followed by something horrifying.
Joy is a form of resistance: Anything that points to hope is important to me at this time. Joy is still everywhere if you look for it and let yourself enjoy it without guilt.
Taking care of yourself is taking care of others: Self-care is not indulgent. It is a discipline. When you get it right, it will give back energy to take care of and lead others joyfully.
"Joy is still everywhere if you look for it and let yourself enjoy it without guilt."
What is your favorite part about working at Schoolhouse?
We have a team that believes in our mission and each other. We enjoy working together and have fun at work. I truly believe having fun is the best competitive advantage in business and in life.
Last but not least, any future hopes and dreams you have for the brand?
I believe in chasing our potential, and I feel like we have a great team in place to do that. I continue to love to watch new customers fall in love with Schoolhouse.
My hope for the team is that we continue to enjoy the ups and downs of this ride together, with large portions of grace, trust, respect and laughs. It is an honor to lead this brand, I think about that honor with gratitude every day.
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