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Duke Rug, Bassett; Coffee Table, Calligaris; Blanket (discontinued), Kate Spade; Sunshine x Stripes Throw Pillow by Leah Flores, Society6; Grimas Pendant Lamp (similar), IKEA.

At the home of self-taught interior stylist and designer Stacey-Ann Blake, splashes of color and unexpected pops of pattern abound: A tomato red sofa sits by the fireplace; paint-splattered wallpaper enlivens her daughter Cheyenne’s nursery; and although Blake’s aesthetic is eccentric, each decision is deliberate. “I live with a space for a bit, envision how I want it to look and feel, and take my time finding quality pieces,” says the mom of three. “I’m Jamaican. My approach is influenced by my culture.” 

Known to her more than 50,000 Instagram followers as @designaddictmom, Blake (a schoolteacher by profession) sparked a passion for design while living in Italy. But it wasn’t until she was pregnant and on maternity leave with her firstborn, Zion, in 2008, that she discovered the world of blogging—“a by-product of being a military wife,” she says. Her husband, Andre, now a retired United States Army Special Forces Green Beret, could be deployed for up to a year when he was on active duty. “I was alone a lot,” she continues. “And I had a voracious appetite for interior magazines.” Blake chuckles as she recounts her initial experiments: “Each time my husband would return home, our walls would be a different color.” With a growing belly and an influx of free time, Blake was inspired to build her own digital platform. The family pad became her laboratory for showcasing joyful home improvement projects—a statement patchwork ottoman here, a whimsical light fixture there. Eventually, major brands caught on and partnerships with Target and Universal Studios followed. 

Coral Gables Paint, Benjamin Moore.

When construction on the family’s current home in Fayetteville, North Carolina, began in 2010, Blake oversaw the design of the ranch-style property, which took eight months to complete, often while she was solo parenting and juggling a toddler on her hip (Ian, their middle child, arrived in 2011). “I chose a blueprint that facilitated living with young children,” Blake says of the airy, open layout topped by a cathedral ceiling. “It was important for us to be able to see them from different spaces as they played.” She also added dormer windows to allow extra light to flood in—a crucial element for her 30-plus plants to thrive.  

We like having a map wall because we can study the countries, cities, and states—and it’s way better than just
having a plain wall.” —Zion and Ian.
World Map Mural by York Wallcoverings, Amazon; Släkt Beds, IKEA.

The sunroom houses the majority of the potted beauties, and the most coveted of the pack, Glory, dominates the bright space. “She’s definitely worth her diva status,” says Blake of the over-the-top fiddle-leaf fig tree, whose robust fan base on social media coerced her into starting an account: @glorythefig. “Taking care of them is a form of self-care,” she continues. “[Plants] help change the vibe of your home and your overall health.” (Blake’s green thumb extends to the bountiful fruit and veggie gardens in the backyard, too—a nod to her Caribbean heritage: “I come from a family of farmers, so I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty.”) 

Vintage Dresser; Nelson Sunburst Clock by George Nelson for Vitra, Lumens.

That ability to nurture happy, healthy little sprouts translates into the kids’ spaces, where self-expression is key. Extending across an entire wall in Zion and Ian’s bedroom is a world map that was integrated into their bedtime routine so that when Andre was away, he wouldn’t just be an abstract figure. Each night the mural presented an opportunity for conversation. “We could talk about and point to where Dada was in the world and tell him good night,” explains Blake. “It’s an ongoing tool that we use all the time, and they still love it.” On the opposite end of the room is the children’s gallery wall, which showcases their drawings (the artistic gene runs deep) among framed pieces by Joan Miró and Ed Heck, so “they can see their work on display and be proud of what they’ve done.” When choosing the paint, “I was mindful to find a color that was not noisy,” says Blake. “Zion is autistic, so I researched calming shades.” She found the “most mellow” of blues (Twinkle Twinkle, which has since been repainted in Brittany Blue, both by Benjamin Moore), which all three siblings enjoy in the serene play zone. 

Who says artwork needs a white backdrop? Blake infused her art collection with energy and edginess by painting the gallery wall in the foyer hot pink. Peony Paint, Benjamin Moore; Ottoman, Tomasella; Art by Suzy Lindow, Brooklyn Dolly, Jonathan Green, Lana Gibson, Alexander Grahovsky, Mpgmb, and Alja Horvat.

Throughout the house, Blake’s signature statement paint selections serve as vibrant backdrops, especially for her art collection to really shine. In the hot pink foyer, a windswept scene by Jonathan Green and a striking portrait by Erin Robinson hang alongside artifacts and sculptures picked up in Jamaica and Italy. Justina Blakeney created the abstract work in the main bedroom, and the digital prints perched against the wall are by Montreal-based studio EdB & Paprika. “My travels play a big part in my design decisions,” says Blake. “Seeing how others live and how they use color is an inspiration for me.” 

To achieve the perfect citrus shade for the bookshelf overlay, Blake referenced a favorite candle to color-match the peachy orange hue. Tarrytown Green Paint and Coral Gables Paint, Benjamin Moore; Composition A085 Shelving Unit, Sofa, Flower Armchair, Tomasella; Tahiti Round Side Table, Bassett; Prints by Jan Skácelík.

Even the geometric overlay on the expansive living room bookcase (actually a cleverly disguised trio of lacquered wood sliding doors) features a pop of orange (her favorite hue). Filled with color-coded titles—everything from The Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon to The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho—with room for toys to be tucked into the bottom cubbies, the Technicolor library is the true heart of the home.

“I didn’t even know if I would be able to have another child,” says Blake—and Cheyenne’s nursery purposefully channels that feeling of “pure joy” with painterly wallpaper and whimsical touches. Arty Wallpaper, Pierre Frey; Hudson Crib, Babyletto.

Of course, no matter what the design project, Blake always keeps her three children in mind. “The spaces aren’t cluttered and I’m cognizant of sharp edges—there’s a flow,” she explains. “They are taught to respect the furniture, but no room is off-limits.” So if Cheyenne decides to climb up on a chair to make forts (a favorite activity), the kid-friendly quarters are there to delight at every turn. And that love for creating comfortable, feel-good interiors is becoming a household interest: Having seen the recent renovation of the main bathroom, “Zion said to me, ‘So when are you going to renovate our bathroom?’” Blake relays with a laugh. 

The Goods

6 Books for Raising Socially Aware Citizens

“These titles are great for increasing awareness of global issues,” says Blake, who teaches in an international school system.

  1. If You Lived Here: Houses of the World by Giles Laroche A glimpse into the homes of people around the globe—from a Venetian palazzo to a traditional New Mexican pueblo—with stunning illustrations.
  2. Islandborn by Junot Díaz Being Jamaican, I gravitated toward Islandborn and found it relatable—a story about the power of belonging and imagination.
  3. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña A bus trip through the city sparks questions from a curious boy to his grandma, who offers perspective on helping others and finding beauty in unexpected places.
  4. My School in the Rainforest by Margriet Ruurs Provides insight into what school looks like for children in different parts of the world—Afghanistan, the Sahara, Guatemala—through photo essays taken by the teachers.  
  5. Tree of Dreams by Laura Resau With a great theme and a heartwarming story line, Tree of Dreams shows how our food choices (in this case chocolate) directly affect other people, as well as the environment.
  6. We Are All Born Free by Amnesty International An illustrated version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, this book highlights the importance of tolerance with a child-friendly message. 

This story was originally published in our Kids 2020 issue with the headline “Bright and Bold.”