About us

Getting to the view - Hiking with kids in the Dolomites

Hello! I’m Tina. I live with my husband and four kids on 20 acres just outside the city, in a house that’s my take on ‘rethinking modern farmhouse’ design. ‘Getting to the view’ follows our story of building, design, travel with kids, and everyday life. Oh and the pseudo petting farm in our backyard.

Finishing our build was a silver lining to 2020. This is something we don’t take for granted noting the struggles, uncertainty, and frustration the year brought to so many.

It also finally gave us a chance to get our 20+ chickens (and other assorted poultry) out of the garage at our old house. For the first two months, when friends asked how it felt to be moved in, my first comment was always how thankful I was to have finished the chicken coop! But in all seriousness, the house embodies the vision I had in my head at the start of the project, and everything in it just fits. Each room feels like home.

Rethinking modern farmhouse design - cross section
A peak through our modern farmhouse.

The trip that started it all

My husband, Luke, and I met in college. At the start of our friendship I made an offhand comment about wanting to visit Great Basin National Park. I hoped to meet up with a high school friend doing a stint as a park ranger for the summer. Surprisingly, Luke was game. But, it was before the era of cell phones and fast internet, and there was always a delay in our responses. I hadn’t actually connected with her before our planned departure day arrived, but figured, “hey, why not?” How hard could it be to find each other? So despite not knowing exactly where she was or how to find her (yet), we set off for a road trip across the country. Thankfully it worked out, and we had an amazing trip hiking Great Basin and Zion together.

In many ways, this foretold what our relationship would be like. Luke is always up for an opportunity to explore the world – he day dreams about travel. I’m game for taking the leap, and truly enjoy traveling as long as I don’t have to do any planning (it’s supposed to be a vacation, right?). Nor ever again get on a boat for an extended period. (Whale watching in Scotland did not go well… so we live vicariously through the Sailing Zatara family.) We’re both comfortable trying something new and taking an informed risk. Our honeymoon consisted of getting plane tickets, backpacks, and a Lonely Planet travel guide Luke had poured over, and we were off to Venezuela for 3 weeks. (In retrospect, having a hotel for at least the first and last nights in Caracas would have been a good idea… but hindsight is 2020, right?)

Getting to the view - Honeymoon hiking in Venezuela
Hiking in Venezuela… hard to believe that was 15+ years ago.

Adulting

With marriage and jobs, and over time 4 kids, life could have looked very different. And it did for awhile. But that passion for exploring, being motivated to think outside of the box, and in my case, also having a drive to visualize and create, remained. It manifested along the way, including both of us working at start-ups at different points. But as we respectively poured a lot of time and energy into our jobs in different seasons, we always pulled each other back to the other, and to the values, people, and experiences in our life that mattered most.

The turning point was when we took the leap to go camping in the Everglades with our first… Next we hiked (and camped) in Glacier when our second was only 8 months old, our oldest then 3 and a half. Luke jokes that your kids are going to fuss or cry sometimes, they can either do it at home or on a mountain. So why not the mountain? It’s a lot more fun.

Getting to the view - Hiking with kids in Glacier National Park
Taking in the view at Glacier National Park.

Practicing the reset

In the years that followed, we had some crazy (and at times painful) life changes… in our extended family, in jobs, where we lived, and more. But we always came back to the reset – intentionally stopping to evaluate how to see our situation (and ourselves) in an objective way, even if it’s hard. What’s true? What does it look like to love well? What’s right (or just)? Knowing all this, how should we respond? (Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly. Micah 6:8) It didn’t magically change our circumstances, but it could change how we navigated through them. Ultimately, we can only control our own actions. Through it all, we’ve always gotten to a point where we’ve appreciated the journey getting to the other side. Sometimes it’s an uphill climb, but it’s worth it getting to the view at the end.

Then came “the build” of our modern farmhouse

In recent years as the kids multiplied, work in an official capacity (for me) took a back seat, aside from an ongoing research project. This is especially true of the past year as we switched to homeschooling, which has been simultaneously wonderful and challenging. Thankfully my kids have learned a lot and overall enjoyed the simpler pace. For me, the time together and opportunity to pour into their hearts has been priceless. (Full disclosure, I cried most days for at least the first week. 1 middle schooler + 1 upper elementary + 1 lower elementary + 1 preschooler simultaneously elated that his siblings were home and distraught that they couldn’t play with him at all times… you do the math!)

Everyday life - science and microscope magic
A certain someone was excited to finally see what the big kids found in the microscope during science!

But during this season, we also had a serendipitous opportunity to build a second new home with space to roam; the ‘modern farmhouse’ we now reside in. I poured my creativity and desire/ability to build something from scratch into this project. And combined it with a driving perseverance and an innate (perhaps slightly naive?) belief that most things can get figured out with help and hard work. (Our builder told Luke I was a force of nature after watching us tackle the chicken coop project. Ha!)

Ultimately, my goal was to consider not just what our family might need / find useful, but to work toward making every spot, every view, flow and feel like home. I have hope that a house (and the people in it) can be a haven amidst the chaos of the world. It can be a dwelling that does the job we need AND be an unfiltered reflection of who we are and what we love.  It can tell a story and bring back a fond memory. I recognize this is a luxury, but when you achieve it, it becomes a place of restoration for everyone who enters.

Modern farmhouse design - lining up the view
Lining up the sunset views.

And then came the blog

In some ways the journey is done, we’ve moved in! But after we got settled, a few friends asked for pictures for their design boards and where I purchased stuff. It made me think about how much I benefited from others’ home journeys (like https://www.housetweaking.com/see-my-house/ and https://lindsaystephenson.com/?s=ikea+kitchen, previously the Little House Blog). Credit also goes to the IKEA catalogue and an episode of This Old House.  I’ve learned so much and would love to pay it forward to others building/redesigning out there, especially those falling in the sweet spot between total DIY and hiring a designer. And of course those who appreciate the occasional IKEA hack. I love Houzz as much as the next girl, but I always wonder *how* did you do it? And can you do it within a budget? Also, what does that room look like when people actually use it?

In other ways, the journey is still going, though. Not just in continuing to design those unfinished rooms, but in our everyday adventures… let alone our travels (once the world opens back up again). Thus, staying on trend, I thought, “why not?” and with that ‘getting to the view’ was born. I hope you’ll join as we share our journeys with the building and design of our modern farmhouse, travel, and everyday life.

Pseudo petting farm - the first ducks
The first ducks… before the number of birds constituted a flock.

And let’s not forget our pseudo backyard petting farm adventures with our almost 30 chickens and guineas, and their 6 duck friends.

But whether it is together, or separately, I hope you’re able to take in the view that’s before you, too.

All the best,

-T

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