Inspired by Mother Teresa’s observation that “love begins at home,” we wanted to take a deeper look at motherhood and explore what her words really mean in the day-to-day life of moms and the challenges we face—big and small.
By Carrie Gress
We have long admired the work being done at Everyday Mamas and featured their blog posts here at Theology of Home. I recently reached out to founder and lead designer Monica Aberle about its mission and vision for the future.
TOH: Tell us about EM? Where did the idea come from and what does it look like today?
Aberle: Everyday Mamas really began about 7 years ago, in 2016. A close friend of mine, Halley Netsch, and I were young new moms living in the Dallas area and had the idea of co-founding a blog. She had just become a mom of triplets, and I had a four-year-old boy and a baby girl. Being new to motherhood, we had been digging into the “mommy blog” world for guidance, and a lot of the content we were seeing was negative—glorifying the “messiness” of motherhood in ways that were not encouraging, especially to a young mom who may be feeling overwhelmed. We saw the need for a more uplifting alternative for moms.
Inspired by Mother Teresa’s observation that “love begins at home,” we wanted to take a deeper look at motherhood and explore what her words really mean in the day-to-day life of moms and the challenges we face—big and small. This mission still remains at the heart of EM.
After initially producing more content on motherhood and parenting, we decided to narrow our focus. We added co-owner Gabby Kewell, and began to invest in what has become our niche: home design services for busy families. Our design approach centers on questions like: What is it about home—and creating a welcoming, comfortable home—that is important for family life? And, what are the practical ways to achieve this goal that allows you to incorporate your faith and family values?
Home design fueled our creativity, and it also reignited a passion for home that I’d had since childhood. As a girl, I’d spent countless hours designing dollhouses and wiring them with battery-operated light fixtures and drawing floor plans as a teenager. I was also given a lot of freedom as a kid when decorating my bedroom. My parents let me select the paint colors and do the painting myself. In high school, I remember deciding to paint two dark green stripes around the perimeter of my ceiling, complementing them by painting the lower half of my walls in the same deep green-gray. I was happiest when I was doing something creative, and now I see this was the start of a lifelong passion.
In the fall of 2019, just before COVID, we officially launched design services, catering primarily to clients who were looking for comfortable, beautiful home design that functions well for their busy families. This was, in part, because we were starting to get requests for design assistance from fellow moms. But also because we found that we really love design and understand the technical components involved in creating a space that looks layered, cohesive, and balanced.
In 2022, Halley and Gabby took a step back from running EM as two of us moved back to our respective home states and we now lived in three different time zones. Their families also grew as well (Halley now has six kids under six years old and Gabby has four little ones as well). So I’m currently leading the company and design work.
Interior design has since become our main business focus, and it has continued to grow over the past four years. Collectively we’ve worked with over 150 clients from all over the country.
TOH: What is different about EM than other design businesses?
Aberle: I think one of the things that sets us apart from other design businesses is the deeper meaning behind the design work that we do. I believe that beauty brings us closer to God. And, personally, I’ve found that when I’m going through a challenging season, it’s all the more important to be surrounded with beauty, even if it’s just a bouquet of flowers.
Ultimately, design comes down to purpose: Why do you desire to create a beautiful space? If your purpose is simply creating beauty for beauty’s sake, that’s missing the point. But if you want to create a beautiful space because you want your home to be a cozy, welcoming space for you and your family to connect and spend quality time together, that’s a different purpose. And a good one! My hope and goal is that the spaces we design become a place of rest for families, fostering love, growth, and connection.
TOH: How do you think your faith fits in with your vision?
Aberle: One thing I’ve noticed over the past few years is how few designers incorporate any elements of faith into their designs. There are so many images of beautiful spaces out there—particularly on Instagram—but most are missing a spiritual component. Many of our clients want to work with someone who shares their spiritual perspective and can bring it into their homes—and that’s where we come in.
Our homes are incredibly interconnected with our faith and what we value. So infusing that into the homes of my clients is important to me as a designer. Before we begin designing a space for our clients, we work hard to understand their vision for their home, their style preferences and what’s important to their family. We then combine this information with listening to the architecture of the home to guide the overall design.
TOH: What have been some of your favorite projects?
Aberle: Last year, I was fortunate enough to work on designing a youth group space. This was a fun project and pushed me creatively since the space was so much larger (around 3,000 sq. ft. of open floor plan) than most of the projects I’ve worked on.
But I truly love working on homes, residential spaces, and seeing the impact of a full-room redesign or renovation. Renovations are usually more stressful for families because the process is longer and there's construction involved, but I think this is where you have the chance to make the biggest impact on a home’s functionality.
Recently, I had the opportunity to design the kitchen and bathrooms for a client who wanted to renovate her condo, originally constructed in 1896, prior to listing it for sale. This condo held significant sentimental value for her and was full of original details and woodwork. She was initially apprehensive about making modifications, so it was very rewarding to see her excitement over the renovations that preserved the original charm. My background prior to design was teaching Art and American History and this love of history and art has a significant impact on my designs and respect for preserving historical, classic elements in a home.
In terms of personal projects, we are continuously fixing up our 4-bedroom 1960’s colonial that we purchased a little over two years ago. We bought this house knowing it was a fixer-upper, but we wanted something that we could transform and really make our own. It’s definitely challenging at times because we are doing most of the work ourselves and only outsourcing things that we know we cannot tackle. But seeing the rooms come together ever so slowly—in a way that feels personal and intentional—was the goal from the outset and it’s making the journey very worth it.
Most recently, we redid our fireplace room. We added beadboard to the walls, painted it a rich blue-green color and transformed the fireplace exterior to fit the cottage-style vibe I was going for in the space. This has been my favorite personal project to date.
TOH: What are some of your favorite design tips? And do you have any tips for integrating religious art into our homes?
Aberle: First, Use layers! One of the biggest keys to a well-designed space is having multiple layers of these items: color, wallpaper, fabric, wood tones, artwork, and so on. Layers make a room feel cozy and visually interesting. I think a lot of people play it safe with their design choices. They stick with only 2 or 3 colors per room and are afraid to add multiple patterns into a space. But, at the end of the day, design is supposed to be fun! And currently, we’re seeing more playfulness and color come out in design and a general trend away from “all neutrals.''
Second, incorporate natural materials into your space. I’m a huge fan of using plants and natural materials—leathers, wool, linen, marble, quartzite, slate, reclaimed wood, and woven elements. These materials stand the test of time, and I also think using natural elements helps connect us with the outdoors. We are drawn to beauty outside, and using natural elements inside our homes helps foster that connection.
Third, as far as integrating religious artwork, I love creating gallery walls with a mixture of prints. However, I realize that creating a gallery wall can be challenging. The easiest way to create a cohesive-looking gallery wall is to keep all the frames the same finish. So, all brass frames or all black frames, for instance. Also, keep the spacing between frames around 2–3 inches.
TOH: If you had a blank check, what would you like to see happen with EM?
Aberle: This is a question that I’m constantly asking God—that he shows me his plan for the business! I’d love to build out a design team and further develop our local and digital presence. We’ve built EM as a community-centered space, a place where moms can turn to for wholesome advice on home and design, and I love continually connecting with and featuring other artists and designers through our Instagram platform. So expanding this community component is a goal, but I would need more hands to do so!
All photos by Christi Marcheschi.