At Home with the Barretts
Erin Barrett, textile designer and small business owner, lives in her renovated 1970’s ranch with quite a crew. There’s her husband, Creighton, (who you may know from his band, Band of Horses), 9-year-old daughter Sunny and 5-year-old son Bowie, and lots (and lots) of pets: four dogs (two Boston terriers and two Brussels Griffons), a cat, a fish... and a bearded dragon named Rufus. Creating a space that works for the whole family while also housing two studios for Erin and Creighton’s work took some time… but they couldn’t be happier with the end result.
In our first At Home feature, we talk to Erin about her approach to house renovations, incorporating color, and creating intentional spaces for everyone to enjoy.
Where do you live, and how did you pick that location?
We live in Charleston, SC, just outside of downtown. We bought this house in 2015 right before my son was born, renovated it, and it’s just perfect. There’s space for everyone and there’s nice big rooms to entertain. It’s our own little family/work compound. We rarely leave it.
I used to be a professional ballet dancer and moved to Charleston with a dance company back in 2007. I met my husband here after his band moved here around the same time. It’s such a great place to raise a family: the weather is really mild, it’s not too expensive, and there are good schools. We’re happy here! And being close to the beach, it’s just so crazy to hop in the car and be at the beach so quickly. Folly Beach is our favorite beach, it’s the closest to get to and it’s so laid back with a laid back vibe.
Can you describe your home?
Our one-story ranch house was built in the late 70’s. It’s funny because I always thought I didn’t like ranches! It does have a bit of a mid-century feel even though it wasn’t built then. What drew us was the layout: high vaulted ceilings and a sunken living room, with a big open space. Then you go down one side of the hall, all of the bedrooms are close together, I like everyone being close. On the other side, you have the kitchen and then the studios, and the family tv room. It’s nice to have all of these different areas to be in and each feels different.
The neighborhood was another big reason we moved here. It’s an older neighborhood with mature trees and privacy in the back, but still around neighbors and kids to play with.
What is your favorite space in the house?
I would say probably the main big room. It looks out over the deck and the backyard and at the right time of day with the light coming in, it’s bright and warm and welcoming. It’s important to us to have a house that inspires us creatively. We live and work here, so we need to feel like it is somewhere you want to be and spend your time.
How did you approach the renovation projects?
When we bought the home, it wasn’t too bad, but it was outdated and really dark. So the first thing we did was pull things out and lighten up everything: painting the walls white, creating a clean slate for us to work with.
And then, honestly, we lived in the home for a while! I know everyone has a different situation when it comes to renovating. We did things over time, slowly, and as frustrating as it can be, I do think that this was a big plus for us. We were able to be in the home and just sort of live for a while and see what we needed. Our original ideas of what would work changed once we were in it and saw how we use it. For example, with the kids and pets, a white couch is not the best option! We’ve done the kitchen, which really transformed our main room, and the next project on our list is the backyard and deck.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I was drawn to this California vibe, kinda like a Palm Springs house in the middle of SC. I like that open bright look but it was important to keep the house warm and comfortable. A lot of times, you see these updated homes with a lot of white, but for us, I wanted it to have that feeling of warmth. I also brought in a lot of color. I’m not afraid to change things! We painted the house black with a fun color on the door, that kind of threw the neighbors for a bit. There’s color everywhere you look in the house. And luckily, Creighton is really handy and can do a lot. We have a similar taste in just about everything: design, movies, music.
How has your style changed through the years?
Oh yes, as far as bringing in color... I was a little bit more afraid of it but once I realized what works for our family, I threw all of the trends out the window and did what feels right or looks right for us. And then there are small things like our kitchen re-do... So many of the Pinterest kitchens didn’t feel right for us. Then I came across this Scandinavian kitchen with warm wood tones and it fit in so well with who we are and that warmth we want. It’s a great example of why doing things gradually works for us. If we had done the kitchen five years ago, I would have been more safe and gone the route of the all-white Pinterest kitchen. But now that I’ve been in the house and felt the energy in the house, this fits us better.
What is your day to day like?
My youngest has been home the entire time I’ve had my business, so that’s pushed my work day later in the day. I start around 10am when my one employee comes in; we work on orders, do all of the packaging and labels, shipment prep, and then she leaves and continues to work from her home. Then, from 2pm onwards, I do my mom thing in the afternoon, get everyone through dinner/bath/bed, and then straight back to work at night. I’m often doing my weaving on the couch while watching Parks and Rec. When the kids start school, I’ll be able to do more 8:30-2:30 and will have more free time at night, which will be nice!
The studio feels decorated differently, I don’t feel like I’m just working at my house. When I go there at 10, it feels like I’m going to work, which was intentional. It is connected to the house though, so my kids can come in and out when they want.
Have they asked to learn how to weave?
Yes, the kids work on it... and then get sidetracked. They are so proud and tell people all the time about my weaving. My daughter had a weaving project at school and was super proud to say this is what my mom does!
Where do you draw inspiration from for weaving?
My favorite part about the process is coming up with color combinations and going from there with the design. I love using color and want to make something that makes you happy and adds a lot to a space. I’m always taking photos anywhere I am — in nature, in stores — of color combinations that seem unlikely and figuring out how to bring them together.
What are some of the most unique requests you’ve received from customers?
I have gotten a few requests from people wanting to incorporate physical items that mean something to them, like something from their wedding, yarn from their grandmother. Someone reached out with ribbons from horseback riding competitions! Sometimes we can incorporate it but sometimes it doesn’t work.
Can you describe the style of the two work studios?
My studio is a bit chaotic because of all the colors, it’s a bit of an organized mess in there. Creighton’s studio is clean and streamlined. We painted most of the walls dark, kind of a dark charcoal. He’s got important things on the walls, like the band’s records, and otherwise there’s just the drum kit and some other music equipment.
How do you use your Nuggets in your home?
We’ve had them for so long, it’s changed over time. It’s really not for one age, my kids have grown with them and used them in so many ways. We encourage creative play in our house, and my husband loves to play with them and build with the Nuggets. When he’s home from tour with his band, he’s 100% here and is so engaged with the kids.
The kids favorite way to use the Nugget right now is fort building. When the pandemic started, we built them a huge fort that basically took over the entire playroom. They had all their stuff, all their blankets, and that is where they spent the first two months of the pandemic. Oh, and anything with a slide!Thank you, thank you to Erin and her family for inviting us into their home! To learn more about Erin’s work, visit her studio website and follow her on Instagram @sunwoven.