As you recall last month we visited with Joy Waltmire the SavvyCityFarmer in the suburbs of Chicago. What a treat to meet Joy AND see her adorable farmhouse! While there, Joy mentioned her daughter was following in her footsteps so we decided to pay her daughter Angela a little visit.
Angela, like her mom, lives in the country burbs of Chicago, Illinois. She is a wife and mother of four little ones: Aidan 6.5, Amélie 4, Juliette 22 months, and Julien 13 weeks who were all birthed at home with the help of a midwife and her husband.
She also writes the lifestyle blog, Parisienne Farmgirl, where she uniquely combines the two worlds she admires most - Parisian life and farm life thru design, styling and cooking. Her work has been featured in Fifi O'Neils Romantic Prairie Style, Artful Blogger Magazine and Where Women Cook. Drawing from her stays in Paris and inspired by her lineage of farmers' wives she combines both styles to just about everything she puts her hand to including her thoughts on all things French, Cooking, Design, Gardening, God, Motherhood, and the occasional conservative rant.
And as we say in Texas, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. So get yourself a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and settle in. You are in for another treat as we bring you the farmhouse of Parisienne Farmgirl!
How long have you lived in your farmhouse and when was it built?
We have lived here for almost ten years. We are the forth family name to live here. The plat of survey for our house says "1840". The historical society in town confirmed this for us. I love knowing how long this house has been standing here. Funny thing is, as much as we love it we just put a "for sale" sign in the yard. It's time for us to be on a farm!
When did you realize you had the decorating gene? Did you discover decorating at an early age? And how long have you been working on your farmhouse?
I have always enjoyed all things artistic and creative. When I was little it was important for me to enjoy my surroundings. I would get my room all clean and rearranged (dragging furniture from corner to corner) and then I would come downstairs and say, "Mom is there anything you aren't using right now?" She would then give me doilies, frames, and miscellaneous trinkets to use in my décor. Those are sweet memories for me.
I have been working on this farmhouse since before we even closed on it! I got permission to work in there before the closing... it was such a wreck… I couldn’t wait till our May closing to begin.
Your decorating style is somewhat different than your mother’s.
How would you describe your decorating style?
I call my decorating style "Parisienne Farmhouse" - it is different from my Mom, though we do love much of the same things. My style has been Parisienne Farmhouse for years because I love the sparse, rustic look of the Provencial mansions and farmhouses and I also love the cluttered, collected look of a Parisian Apartment. The homes in Province have that dreamy indoor/outdoor feeling, with large rustic pieces and the occasional glitz. In my mind a Paris Apartment has wonderful fabrics... velvet, satin, crystal chandeliers, antiques and modern pieces together and a hint of old Hollywood. Combining the two looks thrills me. They both speak to me and both have a legacy of antiques and pieces handed down from generation to generation. I would say that the first floor of our house has more of the farm influence and the upstairs is definitely more glamorous.
When I think of decorating in the French farmhouse style I usually don’t think of using color so boldly…tell me about all the color in your house.
That's understandable, I think maybe that's because there is a lot of all white decorating going on out there under the style name of "French Farmhouse". That's why I call it "Parisienne Farmhouse" :). It works, cause our house is in town... were I out in a sprawling ranch in the country I might lean more towards a more subtle Provencal aged palette but for now I love, love, love color. I love to use it creatively like in our bedroom we painted the ceiling a wonderful shade of dusky teal (if that isn't too much of an oxymoron!) and then repeated that color in the closets that have French doors. I love seeing the color repeated in those little spaces. I did recently paint my bright yellow kitchen a lovely shade of off white. With a fourth baby I needed a touch more serenity!
How does one go about adding all these different colors and still achieve a pulled together vintage look?
Vintage items have a lot of color. I like to tease on my blog that design isn't all chippy white paint. That's definitely one of the looks but there are so many looks that "vintage" can offer. Often it's a bit faded but the color is there. I keep my vintage look with second hand furniture. All our furniture has "legs". We don't have any big lounger sofas since we don't watch T.V. I think that is the main thing that keeps a vintage look against the splashes of color.
What does “decorating for Christmas” mean to you?
I don't like new Christmas décor (go figure). I'm crazy for Shiny Brite ornaments (I have hundreds), tons of fresh greens and white lights. Sort of New England meets Mad Men.
With four little ones in your house … have you had to adapt or change what you use to decorate with? (to avoid breakage)
I grew with antiques and learned not to put a wet cup down or lay my wet towel across my dresser. My kids are learning the same. I never did move anything when "The Chickens" came along. It takes constant attention those first few days when they learn to pull themselves up to the coffee table but I think it's a good lesson for them to learn, "This is yours, that’s Momma's". Then you can take them anywhere with 99% confidence that they aren't going to touch other people's property at stores and in other homes. Now that's not to say I haven't lost a vase here and there but over all it's been a success. Even as I type they are playing cars on the coffee table next to my collection of alabaster Venus de Milo statues... they wouldn't dream of touching them.
Your indoor style has definitely overflowed to your yard… which is beautiful! Can you share tips on how to achieve your outdoor style also? And tell us about your vegetable garden too! (All those beautiful vegetables…are they just for show in the garden?)
My gardening influences are French and English. I love the Cotswalds and their cottage gardens and I love a traditional French kitchen garden or Potager. I designed my Potager about seven years ago, I wanted something very natural looking so I used small boulders and pea gravel. I use a lot of terra cotta. I do think the trick with a chic garden is to not get too "kitschy". The more knick-knacks in your garden... flags, glass orbs, etc, the less it's going to look like something from the French or English country side. The more herbs, roses and veggies the better. We try to eat really healthy and without chemicals so yes, we grow a lot of food. This year our harvest was over three hundred pounds.
And I’m betting your beautiful copper pot collection in the kitchen isn’t just for show either! Are you a “French” cook also?
I am. I love French food. I appreciate their use of herbs and decadent dairy products. French cooking is really nothing to fear as you can learn a basic recipe and tweak it and use it in a variety of ways. French food has a bad rap for being "fattening" but really, it seems to me to be all about the vegetable. The "fattening" stuff is rarely the main portion of the meal. Food is one of the real pleasures of life. I'm all about it!
Your farmhouse has been featured in many publications. Tell us what’s it like to have stylists and photographers all over your home especially being a photographer yourself.
It's nerve wracking. You try to make things soooooo perfect. You BUST your butt making things perfect forgetting that the reason they are in your house is cause they like what they saw to begin with! Don't get me wrong - it's tons of fun but it can sure get to you if you let it!
As far as being a photographer I do really enjoy seeing my home through someone else's lens.
Do you and your mother collaborate on projects? Are you working on anything now?
Mom and I are at totally different stages in life (obviously:) girlfriend is a creative genius working non-stop while some days it feels like all I do is wipe tushes! But we do work together when we can. Shop the Shed is our semi-annual "miniature barn sale" in her carriage shed. It was her conception and she nailed it... it's been a huge success. I love doing it with her. We have a Christmas sale coming up at her house next week. Though I typically have small finds and some redesigned furniture this time I will just be offering my Parisian style Macaroons in six Christmas flavors. They have become a staple at the sales. Last time I sold out! Macaroons are difficult to find, even in Chicago land. I am pretty excited, this time I will be bringing a macaroon tower so people who have never had one can try before purchasing! Macaroon towers are really festive and I can't wait to show it off!
As far as what I am working on right now...it's TOP TOP SECRET and I can't tell you in this interview but I will be making the announcement on January 1st 2012 at 12:01 a.m. I am so excited I can hardly contain myself. I wish I could tell you but I do hope your readers will tune in!
We WILL Angela, we WILL! We can’t wait for your announcement! And we can’t wait to see you in Fifi O’Neal’s Romantic Prairie Cookbook book next year…take a peek here.
Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful farmhouse and gardens with us.
What an inspiration you are!
Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas!