Text by Lisa McEwen I Photos by Steve Cory
aintaining an organized home while parenting four children is challenging for even the best of parents.
Throw in several home improvement projects and it could easily border on chaos.
Thankfully for Leslea Ferguson, finding a balance between motherhood, owning a home and growing her career has blended beautifully into one shared endeavor. And like the room makeovers she shares with a growing internet audience on her blog, A Heart Filled Home, she makes it look easy and fun.
The blog speaks to her approach to homemaking.
“I am using a name that encompasses a lot of different things that I love,” Leslea said while giving a tour of her Tulare home to Lifestyle Magazine. “I had just had my third child and was spending lots of time at home. I started my blog to document my home projects and show others how to do the same. My goal is to create a loving and welcoming home our family can be comfortable in.”
For Leslea, a graduate of San Diego State University in graphic design and art, using the internet to curate a design style and share it with others is second nature.
She describes her home as a mix of transitional and modern farmhouse.
She extols the value of using paint to have an instant impact, favoring bright and airy rooms with high contrast and varied textures.
Since moving in June, Leslea has renovated the family room, kitchen, a downstairs bathroom, dining room, laundry room and one bedroom, all chronicled on her blog.
The laundry room was part of a challenge that she joined — the challenge being to spend no more than $100. She gotit done with $90.
“I love to think outside the box and be creative,” she said.
“The first time we saw this house, we knew it was perfect for our family”
By reaching out to paint, hardware and other home improvement companies, Leslea is able to use their products in her home for free, relying on sweat equity to achieve the desired results.
Speaking of labor, Leslea gives credit to husband Nic, who is by her side with every project, often installing sinks, faucets, cabinets, baseboards and the like.
“It’s funny, because I struggled with shop class in high school,” said Nic, a pastor at Pipeline Church in Visalia. “We work together to make the projects how we envision them.”
Both he and Leslea are excited about their recent fireplace project, which incorporated shiplap, pre-made cabinetry and a mantle and shelving made of natural wood.
Walking through their front door, guests see and feel an immediate impact.
Both attended high school in Visalia; Nic is a graduate of Central Valley Christian and Leslea was a Mt. Whitney Pioneer. They met at College of the Sequoias and continued dating throughout college, with Leslea at San Diego State and Nic at Bible College in Murrieta.
Leslea’s love of crafting and home improvement projects took shape soon after they married.
They bought their first home out of foreclosure and, to save money, jumped into doing the work themselves.
After moving back to the Visalia area, they bought another short-sale home that needed renovation.
“We learned to enjoy the DIY process and all that comes with it,” she said.
When the couple decided to move into their current home in Tulare in June 2020, the ideas came quickly.
“The first time we saw this house, we knew it was perfect for our family,” Leslea said.
An expansive backyard and pool were a plus, especially being at home with four children, ages 9, 6, 5 and 2. An even more important factor is that it has three bathrooms.
“I was thinking ahead to our girls’ teenage years. With four daughters, we will need these bathrooms!” she said with a laugh.
As soon as they unpacked, the projects began.
Sharing them with her growing online audience is satisfying on many levels.
“I love helping people and empowering others, showing them that it’s not so intimidating,” she said. With her online audience growing and home improve-ment companies taking notice, Leslea began expanding her footprint even more by offering e-design services, a perfect complement to her goal of being a stay-at-home parent while using her hobby to supplement the family’s income.
With families like her own spending more time at home during the pandemic, Leslea recognized that many clients want to improve their living spaces without spending a lot of money.
“I offer affordable interior design to change up a space in their home,” she said. “I give them the tools to do it themselves.”
“My goal is to create a loving and welcoming home…”
Once the client sends photos of the room needing attention, Leslea sends them a mood board of a design that she thinks will work, her graphic design and tech prowess coming in handy. Once the design is set, she creates mockups and a virtual shopping list, and guides the client through the decorating process.
“People feel safe during this time with this approach,” she said. “They can customize a space quickly.”
Like many parents, Leslea’s workday begins again once the children are in bed. With the house quiet, she can quickly identify accessories for her clients, create a blog post or begin to lay the foundations of another family home project.
“Shopping online is the best way to find exactly what you’re looking for, especially in a pandemic,” she said. “So many stores have bare shelves.”
Other challenges of a constant DIY lifestyle include cleaning up and putting away tools every day that a project is ongoing. However, Leslea said her children have become accustomed to work zones in the home and like to share their ideas for spaces.
She also uses projects as an opportunity to incorporate the children. For example, their 2-year-old helped line up kitchen cabinet pulls for installation. She also uses her work to encourage her daughters’ artistic sides, talking often about color, design and aesthetics. Anytime they ask her to sit down and color with crayons, the answer is a resounding yes.
Readers should stay tuned for the Fergusons’ upcoming room makeovers, which include an upstairs playroom, and the master bedroom and bathroom. Also, built-in bookshelves in the dining room will be removed, replaced by a handsome wall-length buffet with a countertop. Clients’ rooms will also be featured in the future.
Re-imagining a home on a budget and working from home with young children underfoot can seem intimidating or overwhelming. But Leslea embraces the challenge.
“I find it so fun,” she said. “It’s a hobby that’s turned into a job that I am working hard to turn into a career. I can be there for the kids and what they’re involved in. I love helping people achieve the look they want for a fraction of what they think it will cost. They can achieve the look they want on their own terms.”