Today on the blog, I’m taking you inside the home of my dear friend Taylor, author of Simply Silicon Valley—a website dedicated to imparting ideas for how to live the good life on less. As you may recall from an earlier post, I’ve been dreaming up a new series for Story Hill Lane where I feature inspiring women in their home. As I wrestled with what to call this new series, it was Taylor herself who helped me settle on the name Chez. Chez is the French word meaning “at or in the home of” pronounced “shay.” This title felt so fitting—and chic—for the series’ vision. With that, I’m excited to share the first feature Chez Taylor, where I chat with Taylor about her home style, way of life, and her website Simply SV.
This photo was taken of Taylor’s kitchen windowsill. She’s known to decorate with fruit from the garden trees that bring both color and life to the house (and make for healthy snacks too!).
Cacti are beautiful, low-maintenance plants which meet both of Taylor’s “no-fuss” decor criteria. This one has been alive for 18 months and counting (well-done, Taylor!).
In this home, the food serves double-duty: nourishment and decor. (Love how well organized it all looks. I’m such a sucker for tidy pantries).
Taylor’s favorite bowl of lemons picked from her neighbors tree. (I’ve been known to take a fresh lemon, or two, from this bowl.)A designer friend helped Taylor fill this large, blank space with a gallery wall that commemorates a special trip the family took together. You can read more about her gallery wall on SimplySV. This table was used by a family for 30 years before Taylor picked it up as a give-away. Her mom recovered the seat cushions.
Pictured here are Taylor’s thriving boys, Cru (10), Hudson (8), Gus (6), captivated by the latest LEGO magazine.
Awhile back I sat down with Taylor to ask her a few questions about her home life, decor philosophy and how she manages it “all.” Read on to hear more:
Give us a little back story on your website Simply Silicon Valley. Why and when did you launch it?
We’re coming up on the one year anniversary, I launched in March 2016. Simply SV is a place to find ideas for living the good life, on less—less time, less stress, less money. This is essential in places like Silicon Valley, where life is expensive and fast-paced. Each article features an idea for a place to go, a meal to make, a solution to try, or a product to get.
How would you describe your personal style? Did this translate into your home’s design aesthetics?
I’m a practical, no fuss woman who likes simple, beautiful things and prefers not to spend money. My mother is a designer with excellent taste. I was raised to appreciate beauty: we always lived in beautiful homes in beautiful places. I am also heavily influenced by my late Grandma Millie who was a child of the Great Depression; my weakness is the word “free”. A lot of my home décor is repurposed items from neighbors and friends—including a couch from Vicky! My décor philosophy is that the home is for the family, this is a key concept when you have three sons. My home is designed for family life, for boys, for dirt, and for wrestling. This means navy blue towels, open space (less furniture), and as few breakables and sharp corners as possible. (I do have one white couch that breaks all of my rules; it’s my Vicky couch, I cover it in throw pillows and it stays surprisingly clean.)
Where do you find inspiration for your home, and website?
My home is inspired by life being lived to the full. I want my home to be a place where people relax, let their guards down, and enjoy time together. We don’t use coasters, we let people keep their shoes on (caveat: not the children in rainy season), we aren’t too concerned about things breaking or spilling because that’s all part of life, too. I recently stopped by a garage sale as it was closing down, and they were giving away all the leftovers. I got a free set of Williams-Sonoma red placemats and napkins with the French coq (rooster). They’re beautiful, they’re français, but can you guess why I’m most excited by them? Because they’re the color of red wine and tomato sauce! Spill and drip away.
Simply Silicon Valley is inspired by Sunset, Real Simple, and Goop, with my personal flavor. I love to help people find solutions to make life easier. I’ll pull the plug on the site if I wake up one day and realize my articles are no longer helpful to others.
How do you balance being a mom of 3, a pastor’s wife and managing your website?
I live life one day at a time. The most important thing is making sure I get alone time. The past few months, I’ve been getting up 30 minutes before the children to sit cross-legged on the couch in the pitch dark with my mug of café au lait and watch the sun gradually lighten the room. It’s my time of solitude and silence; it’s when I listen to God. Once the family wakes, solitude and silence are over until tomorrow. I also make a point to keep my calendar as open as possible, allowing room for me to follow my heart and do what I feel like that day. Being a slave to your calendar is a joy-sucker. I only schedule the most important things weeks out. For everything else, I take the calendar one week at a time. Being available is a gift to others.
Do you have any advice for new moms trying to make everything work and “have it all”? And what does “having it all” look like for you?
Having it all means having your priorities in order. You are only human; this means you have a lot of limitations. In our household, my husband is the breadwinner and I’m the household manager. Sometimes I hear a lie in my mind, telling me I’m a sorry excuse for a human and that I’m not doing anything valuable with my life. Then I look at my children, and I look at my husband, and I look in the mirror, and I remember that the greatest gift I can give this world is a unified, happy family and thriving, well-loved children who are ready to launch into this world like well-aimed arrows. The family is my first priority. I also have quite a few side ventures that stimulate me (publishing Simply SV, tutoring French, mentoring women), and I’m excited to see what opportunities come my way when the children have all been launched. When my youngest is 18, I’ll be 48, hopefully with lots of life left to live.
What’s your favorite piece in the house?
Easy, the people: Justin, Cru, Hudson, and Gus. After that, the sunlight. My favorite room is the Mud Room, the ultimate drop-zone to stash messes; I adore that room. And if I really have to pick a piece, the bowl of lemons on my coffee table. The bright yellow makes me smile.
How do you use your home for hospitality?
This house is very alive. We believe our family exists for the good of others. Every Wednesday evening we host a small group from our church: a group of 15-20 people gathers for dinner and Bible discussion (we rotate who provides dinner). This has been our family’s rhythm for the past 6 years, our children are being raised with the culture of opening the doors of our home and welcoming others in. We also host events (we have a 1,000 sq ft open room in our Eichler-style rental home) and we regularly invite people to join us for family dinner. My husband has a tradition of hosting Guys’ Nights in our backyard, where he and a group of friends gather around a fire pit, smoke cigars, sip bourbon, and philosophize. Last night I had a small Bachelor viewing party (slightly embarrassed to share this). I haven’t ever checked, but this house might have a heartbeat.
Thanks for chatting with me Taylor, and for giving us a glimpse into your busy yet beautifully balanced life! I love how you’ve opened your home to so many friends, and that it may in fact have its own “heartbeat.” Your title as household manager comes with great honor, and we appreciate your insights for prioritizing family. After all, people are our most cherished possessions.
To my sweet readers, if you haven’t already, check out Taylor’s website Simply SV. It’s chock full of creative ways to simplify and enrich our lives.
I hope you enjoyed the first edition of my new series Chez. Through future posts, I look forward to taking you inside more homes of interesting women, from all seasons of life, from whom we can glean creative insights about life and style. Ultimately, Chez aims to delight and inspire a generation of confident women to shine from the inside out.