Welcome to Ecosalon’s Inspiration Home series, where we take you on a virtual tour of a real home. Last time around we shared a charming English country cottage-style home ,and for this edition of the series we are sharing a rustic-styled contemporary home. As always, if you’d like to share your home, please get in touch.
Tasha McKelvey is a professional ceramic artist from Richmond, VA. She and her husband (and six month old beagle) live in a 99-year-old rehabbed home near the south bank of the James River, which they purchased in spring 2009. Lucky for them, that meant they could focus on decorating instead of putting their time and energy into updating and remodeling.
The pair are both artists/musicians who are committed to sustainable living and their approach to decorating is making their home reflect who they are, while making it as comfortable as possible. They have blended their tastes and interests into an eclectic home that looks wonderfully inviting.
Jen Wallace: Your style seems to be blend of a contemporary home with rustic touches, can you talk a little about that? Was this intentional or did it just develop?
Tasha McKelvey: I think that’s a pretty good description of our house’s style. I think a home should reflect the personalities and interests of the people living in it, so it wasn’t particularly intentional. Even though I took the lead on decorating, I wanted to make sure my husband was part of the process. We picked out the paint colors together and I made sure nothing was over-the-top feminine. I enjoy modern design, but I know we have too much stuff and not enough closets to make a go at a strictly modern look. I also love the look of vintage and antique furnishings but can’t afford to fill a whole house with them. I grew up in the country and as an artist, I have an eccentric personality so the modern rustic feel of my house reflects that.
JW: Your garden is just divine. Tell us a little bit about it? It seems like a wonderful labor of love.
TM: Before we bought our house I was never interested in investing time in developing and tending a garden. As soon we moved here I started putting down roots, so to say. My Dad is a Garden Historian for Colonial Williamsburg—my parents have been organic gardeners since the early 70s. If I have questions I can ask them, but I learned most of what I know about gardening through osmosis. When you are around something your whole life you can’t help but to absorb it.
JW: Do you see your garden as an extension of your home?
TM: Yes. I call my vegetable garden “my little kitchen garden.” I grow things that we use in our kitchen. My approach to garden design is the same as my approach to home decorating and my ceramic work—form follows function. Make sure it works, then make it look interesting.
JW: Sustainable living seems important to you; can you share some other examples of how try to incorporate sustainability in your home and studio life?
TM: Sustainability is important to us. We grow what we can, as well as support local sustainable agriculture through our CSA membership and farmers’ markets. We’ve made an effort to reduce our carbon footprint by cutting down on our dependence on automobiles. We’ve eliminated the long commutes we used to make, use public transport and have now become a one-car household.
In my pottery business, I use recycled and environmentally-friendly packaging and shipping products. I make handmade pottery and ceramic jewelry, in part to encourage consumers to transition to using handmade items instead of mass-produced.
JW: Your studio is in your home: Share some of the biggest challenges as well as the biggest benefits of that setup.
TM: The biggest challenge of having a home studio is also the biggest benefit—you can work whenever you want. My work habits always seem to be feast or famine. I’m either over-working or avoiding work in the kitchen or garden. I’m still trying to find the right balance or whatever the magic key is.
Jen Wallace: You’ve got to tell us about the guitar and banjo hanging next to the fireplace.
TM: My husband is a musician, he plays lots of instruments, including guitar. I am not musically inclined, but I do love the banjo and I even took lessons but I’m still not very good. When we moved in, I wanted the guitar and banjo to be in the living room in the hopes we would play more. It has sort of worked, but I’m still no good. Either way, I still like that we and our guests have easy access to music instruments for when we do want to play.
JW: What’s the story about the quilt hanging over the couch?
TM: I love quilts, although I have only ever made one small one myself. I see quilts as abstract paintings. The one over the couch was a Christmas present from my husband a few years ago. When he asked what I wanted for Christmas I pointed him in the direction of my Etsy favorites. I have several other quilts on display or in use around the house.
JW: Love the photo of your dog with the dog painting above her on the wall. Is that a portrait of her?
TM: Yes, that’s a picture of our beloved Tela Beagle. Tela passed away late last year. I painted her portrait back in 2001, when she was a year old or so. This winter, I made the urn that she now rests in. She was a very special beagle.
JW: Artwork is obviously an important part of your contemporary home: What are your favorite pieces?
TM: I’ve been a working artist for 13 years and one of the big perks is trading work with other artists. I’ve amassed a fairly large collection of small 2-D works over the years from trading or buying what I could afford. I have several gallery walls in different parts of the house to display all of it. I also have a decent pottery collection. My favorite pieces tend be ones made by artists or craftspeople I’m lucky enough to have met along the way.
Images courtesy Tasha McKelvey
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