What eye candy we have for you today in this month’s Heart & Home tour! Local mom of two, coaches wife, and teacher, Kristen Cascio, is opening her home today and giving us a peek inside. She has thoughtfully created this home from the ground up, with each detail planned out, and you won’t believe how simple she makes it seem. Not only that, but this busy mom has managed to maintain a beautiful space, raise happy girls, keep everyone on schedule, teach preschoolers, and cheer for her husband’s team all in a day’s work. I know you will enjoy this lovely home and the incredible mom behind it!
Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your beautiful family.
My husband, Mark and, I have been together for 13 years and married for nearly 6 years. We’re high school sweethearts and basically feel like we feel like we’ve grown up together! Nearly two months after marrying in 2009, we found out we were pregnant with our first child, Eloise. Eloise is our sweet, reserved child with a quirky sense of humor. Life with one child was easy, simple, and ran at much slower pace. Fast forward almost three years later, and our second child, Charlotte Cate was born. Charlotte Cate is our fun-loving, free-spirited, affectionate baby doll. Life with two is definitely life-changing. We never stop, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Now Eloise is 5 and Charlotte Cate is 2.
We are a basketball family. Mark coaches high school basketball so we eat, live, and breathe basketball … nearly year-round. During the season, my girls and I look forward to games. They have cheerleader and Bruinette costumes, and it’s always a debate over which one to wear. All three of us (Eloise, Charlotte Cate, and I) are at every home game; and we attend most away games. On occasion, I’m known to get a babysitter for the girls on school nights so I can catch a game solo. So much is invested into these teams being a coach’s wife, that I care too much not to go. Being a coach’s family is a way of life. It’s hard work; we share our Papa with a basketball team full of high school boys and their families, but we wouldn’t trade it for the world! It’s a life we absolutely love.
Q: What do you love about living in Baton Rouge?
Baton Rouge is home. Mark and I were born and raised here, and our family is here. We are thrilled that our girls will have this same experience. Family is a big part of our lives!
Q: Describe a typical day for you.
I wake up at 5:30 to get ready for school before waking up the girls around 6:15. Mark leaves by 6:30, and we (the girls and I) are out the door no later than 6:45. First I drop Charlotte Cate off at a friend’s house whom we carpool with to daycare. Then Eloise and I head to school (we are lucky to be at the same school). I teach Pre-K3 so school is non-stop fun … all day! I seriously have the best job. We play, explore, and talk all day with our children. On breaks, my co-teacher, Karen and I plan. However, by the time 3:00 rolls around, I am exhausted, but it’s at this point that I switch gears from “teacher” to “mama”.
I pick Eloise up from her classroom around 3:10. We get in the car and chat about our day; we always talk about her favorite part. Next, I pick up Charlotte Cate from daycare, and usually head home by 3:45 or 4:00. When we get home we play – jump on the “jumpy”, go for a walk, dance to music videos, play dress up/kitchen/or dollhouse, read books, etc. Around 5:00 I begin to get dinner ready. I’d love to say we always eat as a family, but it’s something that doesn’t happen year-round with Mark’s coaching schedule. Most of the time, the girls eat first at their small table, then Mark and I will eat together later. After dinner, it’s bath time for the girls. PJ’s go on after bath, and we usually end up snuggled up on the sofa where we read books or watch Nick, Jr. Charlotte Cate is usually in bed by 7:45, and we aim to have Eloise in bed for 8:30. After the girls are asleep, Mark and I catch up on our shows and enjoy each other’s company.
Game days are a bit more hectic, but lots more fun … after bath, the girls decide: Bruinette or cheerleader costume. Then off to the gym. We usually arrive by 6:30-6:45 in time for the second half of the JV game. Mark’s game starts around 7:15. The girls look forward to the end of the game when they can see their Papa and run on the court … in fact, it’s their favorite part of the game. Usually, I bring pajamas and change the girls before getting in the car. We leave by 9:00, and it’s straight to bed when we get home.
Q: As a teacher, how do you balance pouring into kids all day and then coming home and putting on your “mama hat” as you say?
This is a tough one. In fact, I’ve struggled with it a lot this year as I’m teaching a class of 12 three- and four-year-olds (I previously taught second grade for 4 years and third grade for 2 years); my preschool students and my girls are so close in age – Charlotte Cate (2) and Eloise (5); It’s an age where they are all learning how to negotiate, self-regulate, and function in society. As my students need me during the school day, I have to remind myself that even after a long day teaching, my girls need me just as much at home. They need my patience, my attention, and my love. Being a mama is a full-time job.
Q: You recently built this home. How was your experience? Did you find it challenging to have to make design decisions all at once?
Previously, we were living in a two bedroom condo that we had purchased as a family of 2 upon first marrying. Nearly four years later, we had quickly outgrown the space as a family of 4. We needed to decide what type of space would work best for our family. We loved the area of town we were in, but there wasn’t a lot that was “move-in” ready in our budget. We had thought about buying an older home and renovating, but were scared of other expenses we might stumble upon along the way. Ultimately, we decided to compromise on our ideal location for the opportunity to build a new home.
We built with Alvarez Construction and the experience couldn’t have been lovelier. The process was very streamlined and efficient. After our initial meeting with Carlos, Mark and I decided on a lot number and a floor plan. While we were limited to one of seven floor plans, we couldn’t have designed the plan we chose on any better! It had three bedrooms, an office for Mark, and an open concept kitchen/dining/breakfast/living area. It was essentially everything we needed in a home and nothing more.
Once the plan was chosen, the real fun began. We began choosing interior and exterior colors and made material selections. Interior finishes were super important to me. Carlos was great to work with and allowed us to choose materials outside of his pre-selected norm if we didn’t see something we wanted. My advice to anyone choosing their own fixtures and finishes in this type of build, is to stay on top of the subcontractors and vendors!
Before deciding to build, I, like many of you, had scoured Pinterest and had boards devoted to all areas of our one-day, future home. After finding “dream” rooms with fixtures and finishes I loved, I was able to shop around and find aesthetically similar items within our budget. Therefore, when it came time to make design decisions, I knew exactly what I wanted, and the building process was not slowed down at all.
Q: What advice would you give to a mom who is building a new home?
When building a house, everyone is on some sort of a budget. You must first think about your non-negotiables then decide what you can live without. For me, our non-negotiables were: kitchen countertops, bathroom fixtures and finishes, wood floors in the main living areas, and LIGHTING! Ultimately, when building a house, something will go wrong. Accept it and embrace it.
Q: We can tell you like bright colors (and white!) What has inspired your style?
Generations of women in my family have had an eye for interiors. My mom, my aunts, and my grandmother have always been passionate about antiques, color, and collections. In fact, some of my fondest memories with these women were at Antique shows. When building our home, I knew I wanted everything white – walls, trim, ceiling, cabinets, exterior brick. I could go on. I love white as it creates the perfect backdrop for happy details and artwork.
Everywhere you look in our home, there is color – original paintings and reproduction prints, a Mexican otomi, and vintage Hmong pillows, a Kilim rug, and tons of blue and white tchotchkes … I could go on. I balanced the contrast between the white walls and colorful accents with lots of wooden antiques that belonged to my mom or were passed down from generation to generation; these wood pieces warm up the space and create a very homey feel. I’ve added lots of texture with natural fabrics, layered rugs, and various pillows. I strive for our home to be happy, interesting, warm and welcoming.
Q: What do you want your girls to remember most about this home?
I want my girls to remember this as a happy home. A home where their art is displayed, and their photographs are treasured. A place where family gathers and laughter is always heard. A home where they can both be their own unique selves and have their unique spaces. Before building this home, my girls had shared a space; they were both ready to have a room of their own. When designing their rooms, I kept my same approach – white walls with pops of color in their bedding and art; I was also sure to include family pieces that each could call their own. I chose things they loved to fill their rooms.
For Charlotte Cate, she’s my wild, free-spirited one – it was fitting that she had Alligator shams and a funky, abstract Britt Bass painting that her godmothergave her. She also loves books more than any child I’ve met so it only made sense to display her books where she could see them all the time. Charlotte Cate’s spindle bed and chest of drawers belonged to my great-grandmother; they were also mine as a child. The bed was originally stained mahogany, but I updated it with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in pure white.
As far as Eloise’s room, she actually picked out her pink ikat headboard herself. In addition to pink, she loves orange for her Papa’s basketball team so we wanted to incorporate that color as well. Local artist, Lauren Barksdale Hill, created the fabulous pig painting in her room; Eloise adores it and named her Ms. Piggy. Atop her nightstand is the Guardian Angel Prayer that her godparents gave her; she is learning the prayer right now. Eloise also has a piece of furniture in her room that was my great grandmother’s – an armoire which is being used to house all of her “dress up” costumes and accessories.
Q: If you could take three things from your home (other than the people inside), what would they be?
photographs (all of them); sentimental pieces of jewelry; my girls’ lovies that they can’t sleep without
Q: What is the greatest lesson you have learned since becoming a mom?
While being a mama to two little ones is a challenging season of life, it’s so important not to take it for granted. Being with my girls, I’m constantly reminded just how lucky I am. Because this time doesn’t last forever, I believe documenting it is so important. You will always see me with a camera in my hand – whether it’s my iPhone or my Canon. I’m constantly photographing my girls. I will never have this time back with them, and I want to remember it all. I want them to look back at the pictures and have memories too … looking at old photos is something I love still to this day.
Kristen, thank you so much for this beautiful tour and for letting us peek into a bit of your life. Your home definitely makes us smile as do your beautiful little ladies! One thing that really stood out to me is how you’ve chosen to build a home that “was essentially everything we needed in a home and nothing more.” The thought of building seems like it comes with endless choices, but with this philosophy I could see how it would work just right. And, can I just say, I’m in LOVE with the Ms. Piggy, too!