Photography by Susie Brenner
When we bought our home nearly two years ago, one of my favorite rooms in the house was a sun-drenched space overlooking the garden and accented with a cozy fireplace at one end; I immediately imagined our little family spending afternoons there. Its location in the house makes it perfect for the children’s playroom… And someday, when they no longer need to play within eyesight of Mommy, it will become my home office and sitting room.
One day when I was walking through the house, imagining the little changes and decor we might do in each room, it came to me… I wanted the children to be surrounded by a beautiful mural with special details of our life. But I didn’t know where to start. And I was uncertain about how to incorporate the unique vaulted ceiling, which was full of complicated angles.
So I reached out to local designer Jess Knauf Design, who has also become a dear friend, for suggestions on how best to create this space and what to do about the tricky ceiling. Jess put me in touch with local mural artist Wall Creations by Mimi and we all met to brainstorm ideas. I instantly clicked with Mimi; we are both dreamy, creative, whimsical people with Iowa backgrounds. And when I looked at her incredible project portfolio, I knew I had to work with her. Mimi has no formal art training, yet can paint scenes ranging from ancient Italian frescoes to whimsical English fairytales. She creates sunsets and pink-tinged clouds that make you actually feel the warmth on your skin while you stand there, admiring them. She is truly one of the most talented people I have ever met in my life.
I knew I wanted my children to feel as if they were playing in a serene English garden, but with someone creating this space just for us I could be creative and dream up every element painted on the walls around us; it could become the story of our lives. That is why I chose to do a mural over wallpaper… And why this room is so special to me. I was able to include trees from the places we grew up, bees for my mother, a Tiger swallowtail butterfly for my father, a flower from my bridal bouquet, a rose arch for my grandmother, the Victorian conservatory where my baby shower was held, a bunny for Georgina and a horse for Conrad, and flowers representing the birth months of nearly everyone in our family. Our dogs are documented on the walls. Mimi even shaped plaster by hand to create two special birds with two eggs in their nest to signify our little family. And she surprised me by painting in our sweet children having a tea party. Everywhere I look, there’s a special, heartfelt detail… And that’s why I love this space so much.
Jess came up with the concept of a tented ceiling in a soft French blue with the loveliest stripes and tassels to accent the vaulted, angled ceiling…
On a warm summer day it truly feels like I am sitting under a beautiful tent in the English countryside. And when its cold outside, I can escape to my English garden and dream of sunny days.
We are going to repurpose Georgina’s ivory iron crib with the canopy into a reading bench at the far end of the room, which will give the space some height and extra seating. And when the children get a bit older, I’d love to have a painting of them done (coming for you, Shari Ford!) and hung over the fireplace.
Ahh – the fireplace! We redid this fireplace surround with the most charming antique Delft animals sourced by Sarah DeWitt of DeWitt Designs; it is the perfect tile for this space and adds a whimsical touch.
Mimi came into our home and worked on this mural for an entire month. She witnessed Georgie tantrums and me in my bathrobe and became like family to us. But even at the end I wasn’t ready for her to go… And now, I miss her whistling and music. She has given us one of the most beautiful gifts we’ll ever have; the story of our little family surrounding us as we work, play, and live in our beloved home.