Amanda & Her Home
As the holiday season approaches, we find it increasingly important to focus on spending intentional time with family and friends. And who better to share her favorite strategies for doing just that than stay-at-home mom, Amanda Watters? After visiting with Amanda in her suburban Kansas City home, we were intrigued to discover a wealth of warm and cozy thrifted décor, but as we wandered deeper and unearthed more of what the Watters family stands for, we fell further in love with the unseen intrinsic character of this beautiful space.
When Amanda quit her job as a middle school English teacher, she devoted her sole attention to the daily care of her family. Day by day, you can find Amanda running around with her three little ones, cooking, baking, sharing stories and DIYing, too! It was this natural progression of Amanda’s creative flow that ultimately birthed the idea for her blog, Homesong. In this digital space, Amanda shares with us her passion for photography, writing, cooking and crafting through a platform that truly reflects her heart and values.
Touring Amanda’s ultra-inviting home, you'll often smell a delicious treat baking in the oven, hear the fire crackling in the hearth and see the family snuggled up with a blanket and pile of books. As we discovered, these are the moments that Amanda cherishes and the memories she holds dear. So, in light of this very festive time of year, we invite you to enjoy the beautiful fall tour of the Watters's home below!
Tell us about your home!
Our family had been on the hunt for a home in one of Kansas City’s historic neighborhoods for several months when a dear friend suggested a house we might like that she knew would soon be for sale. Being pretty particular, Andrew and I had quite a long list of things we were looking for in a new home: lots of windows with natural light, well-kept hardwood floors, a big kitchen, a working fireplace, a screened-in porch, room to grow and—most importantly—original features still preserved from when these old homes were built almost 100 years ago.
We did a short walk-though before this one was even on the market and knew right away we were home. We had seen so many other lovely houses nearby that ticked lots of boxes, but none of them felt the way this one did. We drove back to our tiny condo and immediately made an offer and began the moving process!
What was it about the space that made you decide that it was "the one"?
It was that special something—a feeling untethered to words—that made us decide this was the one. It was the overwhelming emotion we felt even before stepping through the door of this home. It was the way Andrew and I nodded to one another as we made our way from room to room. We could really envision our family putting roots here and growing closer within these walls. That was such a warm and welcoming thought because we are such homebodies, like we were always supposed to be here.
Where do you get all of your gorgeous art?
Almost all of our art is secondhand, minus our Homestead print, a few watercolor paintings by Andrew’s dad and a few family photos we’ve got sprinkled here and there. I found our old gems at thrift stores, antique shops around town and a few vintage stores in Iowa where I grew up. Ever since we’ve been married, I have been collecting old pieces like botanical drawings, antique oil replicas and floral cross-stitches because I love the whimsy and warmth they give our home.
The “Grace” painting by Enstrom hanging in our kitchen nook is my very favorite. My grandparents had one just like it hanging in their farmhouse, and having it in our home brings a bit of my childhood here with our family. Having some familiar pieces surrounding us is really comforting. I also have a few pressed flowers from memorable family vacations hanging in our bedroom. Nature makes the most beautiful art.
Some people might be surprised to find out that you are a former middle school English teacher! What made you decide to leave the field?
I really enjoyed teaching English literature and do miss it from time to time, but making the transition to stay home with the kids after getting pregnant with Theodore was the best thing I’ve ever done. Although it also made financial sense to do so (two kids in daycare is expensive!), the main reason I stepped away from teaching was an emotional one.
Being a stay-at-home mom had always been a dream of mine. To be able to stay home and raise our babies under our roof is everything Andrew and I value as parents and is something we weren’t able to afford when starting out. We’ve also always appreciated the work that goes into keeping an intentional lifestyle. Now that I stay home with the kids, those principles spill over into our days together at home. I wanted to be the one reading before nap time and going on park play dates and comforting them if they scraped their knee. The little moments—the ones dusted in magic and the ones dusted in mess—are everything to me and far surpass any profound moments I had when I taught.
Tell us about your journey with your blog! Why did you decide to launch your site, Homesong?
Stepping away from teaching was a big change for me and the unstructured days were a bit difficult to anchor down, so I started writing about staying home and what that looked like in a blog. It was a fun way for me to connect with family and engage with my passions for writing, photography, cooking and making things to share with and inspire others. The more I started posting on It’s the Little Things (my former blog), the more inspired I, in turn, became. It was such a beautiful way for me to engage creatively and also connect with others.
Over the years, it became clear that my little ol’ blog was not suited to share joy in the way I thirst and crave to share it. I wanted a fresh new look and feel to my blog, along with beautiful imagery, an easier way to search content, and ways to collaborate with others and share that work in a more professional way. Simply put, I had outgrown my current blogging space and wanted to make a significant change in how I was going to share my craft going forward. I worked with a close friend who was able to put my dreams and ideas to life, and thus, Homesong was born. I love it so much and I feel like it really reflects my heart and what I value.
It was that special something—a feeling untethered to words—that made us decide this was the one. It was the overwhelming emotion we felt even before stepping through the door of this home. It was the way Andrew and I nodded to one another as we made our way from room to room. We could really envision our family putting roots here.
Favorite breakfast for hectic mornings?
Buttered toast with jam. Everyone in this family loves a good hunk of crusty bread for breakfast and if I throw some butter on it, they’ll gobble it right up. Now, if I put butter and jam on it, they’ll all ask for seconds and even thirds faster than I can keep up. We eat so much preserves and jam over here that I never need to buy new drinking glasses or canning jars! It’s a win-win.
What are you most looking forward to doing with your family this holiday season?
Andrew and I were both raised to really appreciate the traditions that surround the holidays. When Thanksgiving and Christmas roll around, we really enjoy making it special for our kids. We’ll decorate the house with pine garlands and dried oranges, make lots of big meals to share with loved ones, pick out this year’s tree, visit Santa, make paper snowflakes. You know—all those nostalgic things we grew up with. We are a house full of homebodies, so cozying up by the fire each night is really our favorite thing to do with the kids and something we look forward to each autumn. And this year, Alfie will be big enough to open gifts and partake in sledding, so that should be really fun!
What do you love most about being a blogger?
I love that it’s just me here. It’s my fingers tapping away on the keys and my eye behind the camera. I love that I am able to blog on my time, and therefore, I can dictate when I want to speed up and embrace the mess of creative mode, and when I want or need to slow down and rest in life and motherhood. Being able to set my own rhythm with Homesong is essential to how I blog. It’s at an unhurried pace and I need that right now. Being a mother is my number-one priority, which means my blogging schedule is pretty irregular. It happens when it happens, but doing it this way feeds my soul and makes creating and sharing such a joy because there is no pressure behind it.
I love knowing that when I have time and when I feel engaged, Homesong is there waiting for me. Like a patient friend, my blog is cathartic and it gives me a chance to tap into my passions when they unfold. It’s not a space where I feel obligated to churn out material or work around the clock to share, share, share to grow or make short-term gains. My organic process fits well within this season of my life as a mother of three little ones. Maybe in the future I’ll devote more time to it with a clear rhythm in place, but for now less structure around is good for me and for our family.
What do you always have on your bedside table?
I am as blind as a bat without my glasses or contacts, so I always have to have those within reach, along with whatever book I am reading, a big jar of water, some lavender oil to help us sleep and a small bouquet of either fresh or dried flowers, depending on the season.
All-time favorite mommy brand? All-time favorite kid's brand?
I love wearing Madewell classics. Everything I’ve purchased there is now a worn-in favorite, like my high-waisted blue jeans and simple, striped T’s. For the kids, I adore the darling company Willaby Clothier. It’s a special company that makes soft, comfortable heirloom pieces for little ones. I really appreciate that everything sewn is done by hand. The gauze blanket is Alfie’s favorite and the one he reaches for before naps and bedtime.
Any tips for taking photos of energetic little ones?
I really love taking candid photos of the kids and capturing them in the moment, which usually means there’s a lot of blur going on. I roll with it because that’s our life right now—a lot of fast and slow, and then fast again. Being a mom to little ones makes for some of the longest and shortest years, and seeing that translate in the photos I take of our family makes me happy. There will be a time when the kids aren’t always running everywhere, but right now I want to capture that stage and all the beauty in it. My favorite images always end up being the ones that show off light and movement as the moment is unfolding naturally, whether the kids are playing at the park or just being their silly selves at home.
I suppose my one tip would be this: don’t have high (or any) expectations when photographing little ones, energetic or not, and don’t pressure yourself (or them!) to create the perfect image to share on social media. That doesn’t bring anyone true joy, even if it does get ‘likes’ because you know in your heart it wasn’t a real or raw moment. If you happen to get a gorgeous picture without the heaviness of feeling like you need to compete or compare, great! But your photos should be first and foremost for you and your family. That’s what I try to keep in mind.
I wanted to be the one reading before nap time and going on park play dates and comforting them if they scraped their knee. The little moments—the ones dusted in magic and the ones dusted in mess—are everything to me and far surpass any profound moments I had when I taught.
You just recently traveled to Japan—wow! What are three of your favorite moments from the trip?
Japan was an absolute dream and so hard to narrow down into three moments! My top three would have to be riding bikes throughout Kyoto, the rainy temple visits we took in Kamakura and our long sushi meal at Yasuda in Tokyo. It was all so wonderful, but the best times we had were ones that took us out of our comfort zone and gave us a new perspective of Japanese culture. We were both so inspired and refreshed on this trip.
What's one trend you wish would just die already?
Let’s see…woven wall hangings. I just can’t get into them.
Do you have any favorite Kansas City shops or restaurants to share?
Kansas City has so many great shops and restaurants! My favorite local spots for clothing and home goods would have to be Dear Society, Pryde’s and Season + Square. I could write a whole dang post on food alone, but some of our favorites right now are Port Fonda for the Bloody Mary bar on Sundays (and just everything else every other day), Happy Gillis for brunch, Ca Va for bubbles and charcuterie, Heirloom Bakery for pastries, Q39 for insane barbecue, Bella Napoli for pizza night and Westport Café for lunch or dinner out. We also love this little taco joint over in Kansas called El Camino Real. It’s a hole in the wall, but its al pastor tacos are to die for. We go there way too much.
Go-to mama-on-duty outfit?
Although I love long vintage skirts and overalls, I am mainly a jeans and T-shirt gal. I also love my Baldwin hat, which is the perfect solution to mommy bed head, and now that it’s colder my Bridge and Burn beanie. Add a pair of leather clogs on my feet and a chunky knit sweater pulled over my head, and you’ve got my go-to outfit these days. Comfort is everything.
Being a mother is my number-one priority, which means my blogging schedule is pretty irregular. It happens when it happens, but doing it this way feeds my soul and makes creating and sharing such a joy because there is no pressure behind it.
What are your strategies for maintaining a stylish house while raising your children?
First and foremost, to be intentional with what we bring into our home. Then, we declutter and we do it often. This helps us keep things simple when it comes to decorating with quality over quantity. We know that things are going to get drawn on and spilled on and that’s just what this season is all about. Keeping our home minimal is good for everyone, but I never skimp on cozy. Right now our living room is like a little bear den and it’s just the best place to curl up and read.
I like to layer neutrals because it makes us calm and then add color with art, whether it’s by the kids or something I’ve thrifted. Most of our furniture is very kid-friendly so there’s no pressure to keep them from roughhousing on it, which is their favorite thing to do with dad when he gets home from work. I don’t think style has to mean sterile, you know? You can absolutely have a beautiful home that reflects your style while maintaining kid-friendly aspects, too. Oh, and invest in baskets—lots of them!