Sarah & Her Home
If multitasking were a sport, Sarah Hart would win gold. Of course, being a blogger, wife, homemaker and mom offers room for ample practice! As the voice behind Home Is Where The Hart Is, Sarah spends the majority of her days just as you would expect a mother of four young boys would: planning activities, crafting home-cooked meals, sprucing up corners of her home, sharing contagious giggles and documenting all the memorable moments as they come. Yet, for a life that is oftentimes chaotic, Sarah's house markedly emits an aura of peace.
The blogger shares glimpses into her home décor on Instagram, where just one swipe of your thumb will undoubtedly leave you longing to lounge on her living room couch, with feet up and cup of tea in hand for an afternoon of peace. It is an oasis of refined neutrals, bright light and calming earth tones. You would be hard-pressed not to feel both blithe and at ease. Of course, in a home filled with four spirited boys, an oasis is probably a must!
Below, we invite you to step through the front door into Sarah's serene, airy home, which is located in New Jersey. It's filled top to bottom with simplistic style, the sound of tiny footsteps and a whole lot of 'hart.'
Tell us about your home! What made you decide that it was "the one"?
I’ve always had a thing for old houses, so an older home was top on my list of requirements. Our home was built in 1920, so it had all the charm I was looking for when we walked through the front door—from the built-ins to the paned windows above the fireplace and the deep front porch. It just felt like we belonged here when we toured it, if that makes sense.
Oftentimes, you have to sacrifice space in terms of the number of bedrooms, bathrooms and closets in an older home, but we lucked out in that department. We have five bedrooms, two and a half baths (which is pretty important when you have a house full of boys) and ample closet space. There are also a ton of windows throughout the house that let in lots of natural light at different times throughout the day. We didn’t have to do any major renovations before moving in because the house was in good shape—except for a few cosmetic things, of course. So, this house basically checked off every box on our list of wants!
What is your favorite room in the house and why?
I honestly don’t have a favorite because I’ve put so much effort into making each room a space I enjoy being in. But if I had to choose just one it would probably be the kitchen, simply because that’s where I spend most of my time. I can tell you for certain, though, that the playroom is my least favorite room. It usually looks like a tornado went through it.
How do you keep your house so clean and organized with four sons and a dog?
I’ve always believed that you don’t have to sacrifice your style or cleanliness just because you have children. Clutter kind of makes me itch, so I stay on top of it because order is important to me. I’m sure you can imagine what would happen if I just let stuff go without multiple pick-ups throughout the day. My house would be a mess, and so would I!
Having designated areas for toys and arts and crafts is also helpful. We’re lucky enough to have a playroom for the majority of the toys. We also store some in a closet in our living room. Furniture that serves dual purposes is also a lifesaver in helping to conceal the mess. For example, the sideboard in our living room is a stand for the television but also keeps arts and crafts hidden, yet easily accessible for the boys.
It’s easy to accumulate “stuff” with four children in the home, but I really try to keep unnecessary extras to a minimum in the hopes of keeping our closets from exploding. We’ll do purges occasionally to weed out the broken toys, unused toys and all those little plastic “treasures” the boys bring home from school or birthday parties. I do let them keep some of those treasures, obviously, and they have spots in their rooms for that stuff.
Now that we have a dog, I find myself vacuuming a lot more frequently than I used to, but again, I don’t mind doing it for the sake of my sanity. Also, as the boys get older they are more involved with helping out around the house. It’s nice to have extra hands willing to put laundry away or run a mop over the hardwood floors.
Favorite kids' clothing brands: go!
What do you always make it a point to pick up while at the farmers' market?
First and foremost, flowers. Picking a fresh bouquet of flowers is my favorite part about Saturday morning. The guy at the flower stand always makes it a point to smell my bouquet and tell me all about the flowers and herbs in it before wrapping it up for me. He lives on a flower farm with more than three acres of flowers growing outside his front door. Can you imagine?
Next on the list are pickles because the boys are obsessed with them. We get a large container of sweet pickle chips to take home (which is usually gone in about a day), and they each get a pickle on a stick to eat while we’re there.
Apple cider donuts for the boys. I don’t think an explanation is needed!
Our home was built in 1920, so it had all the charm I was looking for when we walked through the front door—from the built-ins to the paned windows above the fireplace and the deep front porch. It just felt like we belonged here when we toured it.
We love the sweet hand-drawn family portrait on top of the piano and the “The Harts” embroidery on the front door! What other things would you suggest to those looking to add a one-of-a-kind personal touch to their space?
Family heirlooms, antiques and personalized artwork are great ways to add a “story” to your home. I’ve never been good at decorating with random knick-knacks purchased at a HomeGoods-type store. To me, they are just another thing to potentially get broken or collect dust. But, I will lovingly display a vintage camera I found at a flea market or a replica topography map of Lake Champlain because they are more than just dust-collectors to me. They are things that hold special meaning and help make our house a home.
Etsy is great for finding personalized artwork to display in the home. We used to have a hand-drawn family tree hanging on the wall. It is now outdated because we’ve since added a few more children to our family. That’s also where I found the embroidery on the front door and a cute calendar that hangs in our office nook.
What are you most excited to do with your family this fall?
More like, what am I not excited to do with my family this fall. Fall transforms me into a different person and makes me feel refreshed and ready to tackle anything thrown my way. I don’t know what it is! The cooler temperatures, the beautiful colors, the cozy clothes—I love it all! If only I could live in a world where it was forever fall.
We usually make a few trips to farms to pick apples, pumpkins and wander through a corn maze or two. Halloween is huge in our house, so we have fun decorating our front porch and planning costumes. We also love checking out all the spooky decorations around our neighborhood.
Who do you love to follow on Instagram?
- @inagarten because she’s basically my idol
- @marthastewart because she’s my second idol
- @smcmennamy for his unbelievable combo photos
- @shopapplesandforts for vintage sweaters and skirts
- @fiveclementinesvintage for cool antique odds and ends
- @thekaleidoscopeca for kids’ book recommendations
The shelving system in your kitchen is amazing! How did you create it?
It’s funny you ask because we’re actually in the process of going back to cabinets. I have a habit of changing things up quite often. A lot of changes have been made just since the photos were taken for this interview. I’m constantly moving things around until something feels right or adding a new touch here and there. I can honestly say for the first time, though, that I feel like I’m finally done (if that’s possible!).
But back to the kitchen. When we moved in, I was not a fan of our painted upper cabinets and the backsplash. I had dreams of removing the tile and finding some old cabinets to bring our kitchen back to its 1920’s glory. Unfortunately, I had no idea how to actually execute this plan. So, I opted for open shelving after seeing Food52’s test kitchen.
We removed the backsplash and the cabinets ourselves and had someone repair the walls for us because, while we may be handy, we aren’t that handy. We purchased the wood at a local reclaimed wood shop and had them cut the shelves to the size we needed. Next, we installed the Elfa System from The Container Store because while we loved the look of floating shelves, we didn’t think that was something we could accomplish on our own without them falling off the wall after placing a bowl or two on them.
I was pleased with the end result and we lived with them for more than a year, but I recently found an antique cabinet that I’m having refinished to look new again, along with some antique cabinet doors that will be used on cabinets I’m having built to look original. So, my original plan is slowly being executed and hopefully it will all turn out just how it looks in my mind.
Fall transforms me into a different person and makes me feel refreshed and ready to tackle anything thrown my way. I don’t know what it is! The cooler temperatures, the beautiful colors, the cozy clothes—I love it all! If only I could live in a world where it was forever fall.
In your opinion, what's one thing every well-organized home needs?
Imagination and creativity. Coming up with ways to utilize every available spot you can for organization is key. For example, we turned an area that’s off our kitchen on the way to the basement into a pantry and I recently added corkboard tiles to a wall in our kitchen to display the boys’ artwork (because every time I walked by the refrigerator it fell off). We also added the same shelves we used in our kitchen to a nook in our butler pantry to serve as a little home office area. Don’t allow yourself to be limited to just closets!
Where is your favorite local store to purchase furniture from? What's your favorite online resource for furniture?
I really only shop Craigslist and antique stores for local furniture, but my favorite online source is Article. We found our sofa there, and I couldn’t be happier with it after having two horrible experiences with a different big online retailer before it. It’s affordable, stylish, comfortable and is easy to clean. I’m also a big fan of IKEA, Wayfair and Overstock for affordable finds.
What has been your most memorable trip, and why?
It’s kind of sad to admit, but we haven’t been on any big trips since becoming parents. So, I guess I would have to say our honeymoon to Zihuatanejo nine years ago. The setting was picturesque, we basically had the resort to ourselves and it was the most relaxing 10 days of my life. We do usually go to Vermont for summer vacation every year though. My husband grew up going there and we have great memories of going there as a couple, so it’s nice to share it with our boys.
Home to me is comfort...But really, we could make our home anywhere because our family is what makes it so special.
As the boys grow older, how do you imagine each of their room's décor will evolve?
They obviously will have more of a say in how it’s decorated. I do always ask their opinions on things before adding to their space though, whether it’s a wallpaper print or a new piece of furniture. As much as I want their rooms to look a certain way, when it comes down to it, their rooms are their rooms.
What is your favorite thing about being a mom?
The unconditional love. The hugs. The kisses. Those things can really turn even the crappiest of days around.
What does the word “home” mean to you?
Home to me is comfort. It’s where we enjoy spending most of our time. It’s where we look forward to returning after we’ve been away. But really, we could make our home anywhere because our family is what makes it so special.
Living room paint color // Entry table // Club chairs // Sofa // Console // Rug // Fiddle-leaf fig // Family illustration portrait // Dining room wallpaper (limited-edition print, no longer available) // Farmer’s Market sign // Master bedroom wallpaper // Diamond Ticking Quilt // Sconces // Peg rack // Boys bedroom wallpaper // Striped duvet covers // Cow poster // Silhouettes