Welcome to the next installment of our Floor Tours series, where we step inside the spaces of some of our favorite design-world friends to chat all things rugs and decor and learn how they’ve turned their house into a home.
This week, we’re so excited to tour the Ohio home of Jessica Akemon from @mrsjessicadarling, where she lives with her husband Jeff and three kids. Aside from working as a labor and delivery nurse, Jessica is a serious pro on all things DIY and woodworking—and over the past six years since moving into the house, she and Jeff have thoughtfully renovated each space to perfectly suit their young family’s needs. Between these impressive reno projects and her charming decorating aesthetic, we knew we had to catch up with Jessica to learn more about her space. Keep scrolling to step inside this gorgeous home!
Tell us about your style! How would you describe your aesthetic?
I’d describe our style as traditional, modern, and classic. We like to keep a very clean, minimalistic vibe, but also incorporate carefully curated pieces, too.
What made you choose to move into this home? What were you looking for?
With three young kids, we loved the idea of living in this master-planned community with other young families, pools, a gym, beautiful trails, parks, and close to their school. When we made the decision to build a new builder-grade home, we went into it with the bare minimum options, knowing we would be going through room by room and making it our own.
A lot of the standard options weren’t our style, so it felt silly to choose the “upgraded” baseboards, tile, or lighting when we knew we’d be replacing them. We’ve had a blast looking at each space like a blank canvas and adding our own character and touches. We are just getting started and have almost every room to work through still!
What has the process been like designing your space, and making your house feel like a home?
My husband and I have been working on projects together ever since we started dating our sophomore year of high school in 2002. As a matter of fact, making a DIY village for a book project was our first date! Since we’ve been working together for such a long time, we are thankfully very much in tune when it comes to designing spaces and making decisions. I’m all about finding the inspo, creating mood boards, sourcing, and ordering, and he’s all about drawing up our plans to scale, and teaching me all about our wood shop and power tools! The fact that we’ve done all our projects together is what makes it feel even more special to us.
You have lots of little ones running around your home! How has having kids changed your approach to design?
We always take the kids into account when choosing pieces for our home, from the furniture to decor! For example, our living room sofas are one of the most popular topics I get messaged about. They truly look high end, but are actually at a lower price point and from Ikea!
People are always surprised to hear this since they don’t recognize them, but that’s because I added custom mid century modern wood legs to them. Adding these legs really elevated the look and totally changed the style. We were attracted to these sofas because they met our aesthetic goal of having a lighter fabric, but the bonus is that the fabric is 100% removable and washable—an absolute must with three busy and messy kids! Secondly, there’s a 10-year warranty, and its modular capabilities allow you to easily change the layout and look. I have all the sofa details and a thorough review saved in Instagram highlights!
I’ve also made a point to try and source great dupes, instead of the high-end pieces that I unfortunately typically gravitate towards. Having less expensive items makes it less of a worry when there are basketballs and Nerf darts flying through the house!
What are your favorite things to do at home with your family? Is there a particular space you all like to gather and spend time in?
One of our most favorite things to do together is play board games on our huge living room coffee table! When I first saw this table, I could immediately envision game nights with all our family around it. This was another moment where we were able to save a little money. It was love at first sight for me with this table, but a bit out of our budget. After stalking our local Restoration Hardware outlet, we got lucky and found it for a fraction of the original price! It had a few damaged spots, but we were able to easily fix it and got it at a price that was cheaper than buying the lumber and building it ourselves. The living room is also our favorite space to listen to music, lounge, and read books and magazines together, too.
We have to ask about your rugs! What rugs do you have from Rugs USA, and what made them the perfect fit for your space?
What I love so much about the rugs we’ve selected from Rugs USA is that they are so versatile and could work in multiple spaces in our home. Our living room rug, the Eldorado rug in beige, was our first purchase and is still my most-asked-about rug. The soft but warm earth tones perfectly ground the space, and play so nicely with the dark hardwood floors and cream couches. My parents loved it so much, they also bought it for their living room, too!
A close second favorite is our latest rug, the silver Tribal Medallion rug in our bedroom. It’s the perfect neutral and looks incredible in our light and airy bedroom. It’s currently layered on top of beige carpet, but will soon shine even more on top of the hardwood floors we are installing!
We just completed our mudroom space and added the ivory Checkered Diamonds Tassel rug, and I have to say it looks like it was made for this space! The texture and pattern perfectly hide dirty shoe marks, and it gives the best pop of deep blue.
Lastly, our two kitchen rugs. The Shaded Garden Tassel runner provides a pretty vintage look, but in a natural woven jute material. The reds and blues are so pretty and the perfect splash of color in our otherwise neutral space. Just past the runner is our breakfast table area, where we have the natural Handwoven Chaste rug. They compliment each other well, and also have potential to allow us to play musical rugs around the house!
Let’s talk projects! What DIYs or renovations have done in your home? What’s next on your to-do list?
This is a fun one to answer! While we’ve been doing DIYs for many years together, it wasn’t until July 2020 that I kicked things into high gear. My husband is an Air Force pilot and was away for training from October 2019-March 2021. During that time, I was still working as a nurse, as well as navigating being a single mom. And then of course covid happened on top of it all and postponed his return home. Being stuck inside so much had me feeling a little antsy, and while we had big reno plans for when he returned, I decided I wanted to tackle it myself.
So I did what any DIY lover would do, and completely demoed the living room! From taking a jack hammer to the existing stone fireplace and completely tearing it down, to removing the carpet and teaching myself how to install hardwood floors and adding beautiful trim moulding, I was determined, and HOOKED. I learned so many new skills throughout that project and haven’t stopped since!
Once my husband returned home, we got straight to work on our mudroom project that included making our own routered custom beadboard trim, wood peg rails, custom baseboards, door trim profiles, and a custom coat closet. We love the way it turned out! Functional for a family of five, and all details were saved in a highlight as well.
Our biggest project is currently our garage renovation. We are first-time guest participants in the Better Homes and Gardens One Room Challenge, and are set for the big reveal June 24th. Our goal is to make our garage feel like an extension of the interior, with similar color schemes and fun organizational details, complete with custom cabinetry made by us!
What is your most treasured item in your home?
I have a beautiful painting that was done by my mother when she was 15 years old, a few years after leaving Thailand and moving to England with her parents. When I told her that I would love to bring it home from my grandpa’s house in Virginia—it was just sitting in their basement—she thought I was joking and couldn’t believe that I truly loved it that much.
I asked her what made her paint this beautiful scenery and here’s what she had to say: “I choose to paint that because I like how the building just standing alone. It was how I felt at that moment. When I looked at it, it help me to stand strong and stay strong. It give me peaceful thoughts.” (If you know my Mom, you know I typed that verbatim, too.) As a young teen in a new country with English being her second language, there were definitely added struggles in life, and I love that my mother had this creative outlet.
This painting alone is such a meaningful treasure to us, but the next step made it even more special. My husband taught me how to process my first piece of rough-cut walnut, which I put through a wood planer and jointer, and then cut and built a beautiful modern walnut frame. I hope this is a piece that stays within our family for many generations to come. The entire process can be seen in my ‘Shop Talk’ highlights as well as an Instagram post!
Do you have any design tricks you’ve discovered while decorating that you’re willing to spill?
One of my favorite ways to make a room feel fresh is by treating pillows, rugs, throw blankets, and drapes like “clothes” for your home. Anytime I’m craving a little refresh, I simply swap around a few of these items, and not only does it do the trick, but it’s a “free” update! Another way to put it? Shop your house! Even something as simple as swapping out the drapes from light and airy, to dark and moody. Our living room goes between olive velvet and polyester textured beige drapes, serving up two totally different vibes!
What do you love most about your home?
I love incorporating meaningful, unique pieces in every room. Whether it be something we’ve built ourselves, a family piece (trinkets from travels, our Thai culture, books, a beautiful painting from my grandparents’ home), or special antique treasures we’ve collected over time, having elements that tell a story are my favorite moments in our home.
Recently, my Grandma Faith propagated her schefflera plant and brought a portion of it to me as a sweet gift. I love the plant, but love the story even more. She explained that her mother brought the original plant to her at the hospital as a get-well gift after a surgery in the 70s, and that it’s thrived ever since! I hope to be able to offer a piece of this same plant to our kids one day, too.
All photos courtesy of Jessica Akemon from @mrsjessicadarling.