Graphic designer Amanda Jane Jones — a self-described homebody — lives with her husband Cree and their two young children in Hyde Park, Chicago. As the founding art director of Kinfolk and other design positions, she helped create the simple, natural style that’s become so popular in home decor these days. Here’s a peek into their new apartment…
Sofa: Article. Framed print above sofa: Block Shop. Coffee table: vintage, similar. Black floor lamp: Schoolhouse Electric. Rug: Article. (From the top photo) Leaning ladder: West Elm. Chair: Gus Modern. Wood floor lamp: Blu Dot. Book storage rack: Schoolhouse Electric. Fireplace surround: Fireclay Tile. Mirrors: vintage. Watering can MÛR.
You have such a signature aesthetic. How do you want your home to feel?
I need my space to be simple and meaningful. Our home is a mix of old and new. I get bored with things quickly, so it’s easier to get wooden and neutral basics (rug, sofa, etc.) and add in color with accessories.
Have you and Cree ever felt differently about something — like the wagon wheel coffee table in When Harry Met Sally?
When we were first married, we painted our front room bright yellow. We both hated it, but thought the other loved it. We didn’t realize until a whole year later that we both disliked it so much and laughed so hard. Newlywed lesson learned.
Who plays the piano?
We both do! Buuuut it’s been a while for me. Cree plays Weezer’s Longtime Sunshine all the time and the kids sing it. He also plays a lot of hymns from church.
Was music a big part of your own childhoods?
Yes, I sang a ton and Cree was in a family band growing up. They practiced EVERY DAY during the school year (my mother-in-law has the most patience of anyone I’ve ever met). Music is always playing in our home these days, and we’re excited to have our kids learn piano, too.
What family rituals do you enjoy?
We start every morning cuddling in bed and talking about the day. Four-year-old Jane is a planner (like her mama) and likes to know what’s on the agenda. I work freelance, and Cree’s getting his Ph.D. in economics — so we switch off days with the kids. At night, we eat dinner together and play a few rounds of hide and seek. The kids think it’s the best.
What’s it like to work from home?
My office doesn’t have doors, so I get little visitors. Honestly, I think it’s harder for Cree since he’s the one who has to keep the kids entertained. We’ve tried to make it comfortable for them — for example, there are art supplies at my desk and an extra keyboard. They like to feel part of things for a while and then they lose interest. I love hearing Jane say she has “pwojects” to get done.
Any advice for work/life balance?
It’s okay to say no! And set boundaries. At the start of every week, Cree and I go over what we need to get done — the ultimate goal being spending time with our family and helping our local community and church. The balance is ever changing, but I’m starting to get better. When I take on new jobs, I make it very clear I work only a certain number of hours, and I give myself long timelines.
What’s the best part of your new apartment?
It has great natural light, and we have a shared backyard, which isn’t common in Chicago. And now Miles has his own room! Poor guy has always just been wherever he fits — mom and dad’s room, the living room, the dining room.
Anything tough? Every apartment has its quirks.
We have a neighbor who thinks our kids play too loudly, so we’re just trying to kill her with kindness. We’ve talked to the kids about being quiet, but it’s tricky when they’re so young.
How did you pick your dining table?
I helped design it and Cree and his dad built it with wood he bought back in college. It’s such a treasure. We wanted it super long so we could have guests over — and for more kids, ha! The more the merrier.
Wall shelves: handmade by Cree.
On Instagram you talk about doing Whole30. Can you tell us about that?
I LOVE IT! It has been life changing. I know it’s not for everyone, but I feel so much better and healthier. Our kids don’t eat Whole30, but they eat the meals I make and still have their favorite snacks — gold fish, pretzels, etc.
Where did the toy kitchen come from?
My father-in-law made one of the kitchens for each of his 11 children. It’s a replica of one his wife had as a little girl. I cried when we opened it at Christmas, it was such a sweet, heartfelt gift.
Bed: Hedge House. Bedding: Parachute. Quilt: Parachute. Side table: vintage. Chair: vintage, similar. Side table lamp: Schoolhouse Electric, similar. Dresser: 57st. design. Dresser lamp: Schoolhouse Electric. Frames on dresser: Artifact Uprising.
Print of Christ: J. Kirk Richards, sold through Latter Day Home.
How do you choose artwork?
Mostly, art is something we aspire to have. If we’re going to spend the money, we want it to be a forever favorite. We just bought a new Block Shop print that we love, but it’s really just not our season for art buying. We’ve framed a bit of photography, since that’s a more cost-effective option for now. We like to take photo booth photos and frame those throughout the house. They make me laugh so hard every time I see them.
How does religion factor into your home life?
Religion is a huge part of who we are — we are constantly trying to teach our children to love, to be kind, and to serve those around you in the world.
Doll house: Pottery Barn Kids.
I know you guys wear lots of vintage. Do you have vintage home pieces, too?
Jane’s room is mostly vintage. My mom found her bed and desk at a garage sale for under $100! Cree is our Craigslist guy. He searches for “mid century modern,” looks hard and finds all the deals. I don’t have the patience for it.
What are Jane and Miles into these days?
Yesterday Jane asked me to call UPS to let them know she needs a Halloween costume. She thinks those guys give her all her clothes! Miles is a major cuddler. He always reaches for me and says, “Mama hold you.” It makes my heart explode.
Did you ever consider having the kids share a room?
Yes, we tried for six months and it was terrible. They’d wake each other up at night and then get each other up at 5 a.m. Miles was just too little.
Where do you hang out with Miles?
I sit in the glider with him all the time! I didn’t have one when Jane was a baby, and I knew I needed one with him. It made all the difference. Ours is by Gus Modern, I like that it’s simple yet also comfortable and functional.
What books are your kids into right now?
Anything by Jon Klassen! The Press Here books are a favorite. We like Paddington Bear, and the book Pool is so beautiful. We also enjoy the classics like Good Night Moon and Blueberries for Sal. The outward-facing shelves make it easy for him to choose a book, and he loves having them within reach. Every single day I find him sitting reading to himself — it’s the sweetest thing.
What cool cartoon line drawings in your hallway. Can you tell us about them?
Jane drew those! She gives her drawings such personality. I thought that blowing them up would be a fun way to show her how much I value and love her work.
What are your go-to family spots in Chicago?
So many! The beach is my favorite — we picnic, fly kites, look for treasures. No matter our moods, it’s an instant day changer. A few others: The Lincoln Park Zoo, Parsons Chicken and Fish (the outdoor patio is great for kids), The University of Chicago campus (for bike rides), Bang Bang Pie (for biscuits and pie) and Antique Taco (the pork taco salad is what dreams are made of).
Do you think you’ll live here for a long time?
Not likely, since Cree will be done with his Ph.D. program in two or three years. Then he’ll apply for jobs and we’ll probably have to move to a new city. It makes my heart ache a little to even think about it.
Thank you so much, Amanda!
P.S. Looking for color? Check out this Seattle home and this Brooklyn townhouse.
Want advice for small spaces? Here’s a 250-square-foot family apartment, a teeny Brooklyn flat and an actual tiny house.
For international tours, see this dreamy Parisian apartment and this home in the Japanese countryside.
(Photos by Petra Ford for Cup of Jo.)