One of my favorite parts about reading blogs is getting the background info on people. I love hearing their stories of how they got to where they are, what they are like and what makes them do what they do. I find people so fascinating and think it’s amazing how we were all put on this Earth with different talents and abilities. I really think life is about honing in on what you excel at, and finding a way to incorporate it into your life and work. With that said, the one thing I’ve been absolutely sure about since as long as I can remember is that I wanted to be an artist.
When I was a kid my mom used to work across the street from Pier 1 Imports which at the time was like the only home goods store around. She worked in a shopping complex that also had a Ross. I would go visit her at work and she would let me go shopping around the complex, I would buy little decorations from here and there. My favorite thing was buying different shapes of bottles, taking them to a gift shop and filling them up with bath crystals. At 9 years old my room was decorated with all of these bottles. When the holidays came around my mom would let me go shopping and buy a decoration or two and for all the holidays except for Christmas she would let me decorate the house. I didn’t realize that this was my calling just yet but I sure did love roaming the stores for decor. When she let me redecorate my room and pick out my paint colors and wallpaper we spent HOURS choosing the perfect ones, all three times. I was starting to realize that I really loved this home decor stuff.
My grandma was a talented and successful artist who was best known for her painted seascapes. She also taught classes, could sew, knit, crochet, weave, she basically could do anything and was great at it. I just wanted to be her as a child, I colored a lot and did art all through school. When I was 13 we moved to the Oregon coast with my Grandpa after my Grandma passed away which I took very hard. We moved at the beginning of summer and I had no friends in this new town. I spent most of my days eating Trix in my pajamas and watching TV. There was a new network I stumbled across called HGTV that I was instantly drawn to.
It wasn’t long before I was obsessed and watched HGTV all day long every day. At the time I thought I was totally wasting my life away, being bored out of my mind staring at the screen. I didn’t realize that I was watching, learning and being inspired by people who were doing what I would do some day. My Grandpa must have caught onto the inspiration gleaming in my eyes as I watched and didn’t hesitate to fuel that fire. He made me believe I was capable of anything and urged me to try even if I didn’t think I could do it.
Shortly after that, he bought me a set of pastels and drawing pads and pushed me to do my art. That summer he gave me a little postcard with a picture of a fairy on it. He asked me to try and draw the fairy on my art pad in a much larger scale. Without question, I took the postcard into my “studio” and gave it my all just like he and my grandmother always did. When I finished, I instantly had that accomplished feeling, that inspired feeling, the same feeling I started to have while watching HGTV…PASSION. We ended up entering my drawing into the county fair, I was nervous but holding his hand, held my head high as I turned it in. The fair drawing took my love and passion even further as I received the grand prize ribbon, and the proud gleam in his eyes towards me only enhanced those feelings. I can’t put into words how much I owe my grandparents for their role in making me who I am today.
In high school I really thought I would love to be a designer some day after watching all of those shows on HGTV, but I also had a serious aspiration to be an actress. I really loved art class and by the time I was a senior I knew I either wanted to go to art school or be an actress. My art teacher urged me to pursue Interior Design specifically at a time when I was kind of lost on exactly which direction I should take. I was torn on design school or flying down to LA to try and be an actress which now, seems kind of silly but I really had this idea in my mind that I should do it. Well my first year out of high school I went to Community College and took some acting classes. I was so not ready for college, or life on my own for that matter. It was one of the hardest times of my life, living on our own, struggling and going to school. I had it in my mind that I was done with school since graduating and it was time for fun. I kind of just wasted time. I moved home and took a year off after realizing school wasn’t for me. I was once again at a crossroads… go to LA or go to actual art school and pursue design. My parents understandably despised the idea of their baby moving to a big city and trying to make it on my own. So I went to Seattle instead, they still weren’t thrilled at that. I went to design school up there and really grew as a person, living in the city on my own, following my dreams. Hunter and I lived in different countries at this point. It was a time for us to really grow as individuals even though I loved him so much still it was so important for us to be separated.
After a while at the Art Institute I realized their aesthetic in the city was not in line with mine. At 19 I dreamed of living in Central Oregon and building homes that were rustic, and cozy, made with wood and windows full of natural light. I was not a fan of these grey, stone, contemporary designs that my peers and teachers were surrounding me with. So I changed my tune and moved back to Oregon. I started school at Oregon State University and I could tell it was the right fit. I kind of hated college, I had this plan, this dream that I was going to own my own business and design and build homes in Central Oregon and I always felt like my teachers made it sound like it was such a pipe dream, that it was unrealistic for me to start my own business. It was around this time that my high school sweetheart, Hunter and I reconnected and MY dream became OUR dream. He worked on building a home himself, his grandpa was an architect and Hunter was just a handy guy. We talked about getting married, starting a family and living out this dream of building homes together.
We got married in my early years of college. Somewhere in that time of dreaming we came up with the name of our business Arb Design. We always said once Hunter was able to focus 100% on the construction aspect we would add that to our name. I finished school and we joined the rest of my family over here in Central Oregon. Right out of school I wanted to just design and work on that aspect. Hunter got a great job out at a mountain resort at the same time we learned we were pregnant with our Leighland. We moved out to the resort in the woods, on the lake and it was a beautiful time for our little family. We were surrounded by nature every single day. We lived in an apartment on sight that the owner let us completely fix up. I helped with some design projects here and there and it was just a really fun time for us and we learned a lot in that tiny apartment. We came up with a plan. We were going to buy a house, fix it up and sell it while we lived in our little apartment on the lake. We would use the money and continue flipping houses until we had enough money for Hunter to focus all of his energy on our dream business and not work just to survive. This is where things take a bit of a turn and life happens, because everyone knows life happens. Stay tuned for part 2.