A Norwegian Interior Designer And A Mom of Two, Stine Christiansen Shares What Inspires Her
Stine at home with her two children wearing her Elif Dress in Slate
You look amazing in our Mimi Dress (Black)and Elif Dress (Navy/Slate)! How do you feel in them?
I feel wonderful! When I was pregnant I always looked for items that were not maternity wear, but that could still work with pregnancy and breastfeeding, as maternity clothing feels very limited, in both style and longevity. These dresses merges all of that! Mitera dresses are beautiful in their own right, and are so versatile without being obvious. Perfect.
You are originally from Norway. Could you tell us your journey how you ended up in Brooklyn?
I’m an interior designer and wanted to specialize, so I went to Parsons to do Architectural Lighting Design. I, as many others that come to this city, planned on returning home when done, but as it happens I met my husband here and boom! Suddenly we had a life here, and has since cemented it with our two kids.
You are an interior designer and run your own business. Can you share with us more about what you do, what inspires you creatively and whether becoming and being a mother influences what you do?
I am a dreamer, an introvert and often ‘live inside my head’, and I find inspiration everywhere, be it walking in the neighborhood, or reading, watching TV etc, it really is everywhere. Kids kind of break up those things. I can't disappear into my head and dream away as much. I have to be present and alert. But I love that they force that break on me. They force me to be more efficient, make decisions and move on. It makes me a better designer. I still dream, fantasize and emerge myself into projects, but can't spend endless time weighing all options before making decisions.
You have two beautiful children Tell us a little bit about your pregnancy and postpartum experience as a busy working woman in New York City.
I suffer from a disease called Endometriosis and apart from chronic fatigue and other symptoms, it makes it very hard to get pregnant. I went though IVF to conceive both my kids, so there are no fun breaking it to your partner story! Haha! I have always been a very stubborn and proud woman, and that manifested itself a whole lot more when I became pregnant. I had this need to handle it on my own, listen to my body and intuitions and take decisions based on that. Some decisions I have to take based on science, and some advice I would be silly not to take, but it was almost as if I closed my ears to the general flow of advice that comes your way the moment people know you are carrying another human being, or have brought a baby to the world. I treasured delving into knowing this new human being, listening closely to all sounds and cries, deciphering what meant what, and priding myself of knowing best at all times what my baby needed. It is such a beautiful bubble to be in. I guess in many ways, that this independence, listening to your inner voice and the need to figure things out on my own, is something my mother instilled in me from a young age, and that I hope to pass on to my own children.
Could you share your birth and breastfeeding stories?
Astrid came right on time, and it had been an easy pregnancy, so it felt like it should be a straightforward birth. She took her time, as the first-comers usually do, but then got stuck. When she refused to move forward from that point on, and she was far down the birth canal, the room quickly filled with doctors and nurses. She made it through in the end, with help, and left me with damages that took a very long time to heal. Audun did not go easy on me through the pregnancy, and the last month I could barely walk I was so big and retained an enormous amount of water. He decided to make a quick entry, but with him being the biggest baby ever (12Lb 22”) it also took long to heal. However, there is not one thing I would change; theirs births are the two single most amazing experiences of my life, bar none, and I would do it over and over again. I think perhaps the only regret I have is not starting earlier as I would have loved to have many more!
I breastfed Astrid until she was 14 months, and loved every minute of it. I felt lucky that I could, and that Astrid would, and really cherished that very special and intimate time with her. Audun was never too thrilled about it, though we had beautiful moments as well, so when he was 6 months he decided he was done. I would have loved to breastfeed him much longer, but since I had sensed for a long time that he wasn't enjoying it as much as Astrid had done, I was fine with it. He really just needed to eat and drink like an adult already!
How would you describe your parenting style? Coming from a different country, do you do anything special to try to teach your children about where you come from? How do you raise multicultural children?
I often joke that my parenting style is ‘lazy parenting’. Off course it is not, as the term lazy must be the opposite of what the term parent means! But I like taking a step back and see them figuring things out on their own. I truly believe in building their confidence, and not in terms of telling them how wonderful and talented they are, but by having them learning to manage things and overcome challenges on their own. I don't know how many times I have had other parents worry and gasping while I stand back, unfazed.
We are both from Norway, and have grown up there, so we speak Norwegian at home. Apart from drops of “Norwegian-ness” dripping into their everyday life just by the sheer nature of us being who we are, we celebrate all the major holidays and birthdays in a very Norwegian manner. And I especially love it when they get to spend time with grandparents, uncles and aunts, they pick up so much that way! At the same time, we love American traditions and ways of life, and are proud to incorporate that into our lives. They are very lucky to grow up with two such great cultures.
Stine's husband Håvard Homstvedt and their two kids
What do you think are some of the biggest joys and challenges of modern motherhood?
The strive to be perfect seems to be a true challenge for many parents today, and it seems to be true for mothers in particular. The drive to be able to do it all; make sure the kids are fed organically, dressed in the best clothes, go to the best daycares/preschools/schools, go to all the activities to ensure they are stimulated in the very best way from birth, not have plastic toys in the house, only read educational books, have the best gear, -the list goes on, and at the sam time have a clean house, cook healthy dinners, be great at your job and be the best wife, sister, daughter, friend as well. It is just not possible and it is stressing out a large amount of moms as they are driving themselves crazy trying to live up to all those goals. Something has to give, and it its ok. Being a parent has nothing to do with perfection, if anything it is a tribute to the imperfect, and teaching your children to love and be comfortable with imperfection.
What support you wish you had/have in your day to day life as a working mom?
My biggest wish, apart from having my family closer, would be to have improved instituted family policies in this country. It is one of the most striking shortcomings of life with kids in the US. The practice that mothers are forced to go back to work 6 weeks after birth is a true disgrace. So many mothers have barely, or are not even close to, being healed after birth, the baby still nurses every few hours, around the clock and is completely dependent on the closeness to their mother. I can just imagine the tears and stress leaving your infant baby with someone else and going to work utterly sleep deprived with mammary glands working overtime. It is just not right. Such a large percentage of women leave their work because of this, and the economical ramifications of that is huge, to both the household and the economy of the country. That is a pretty big, important part of the workforce. I love that pre-k was made free and accessible, making it easier for women to go back to work. If only daycares could be government substituted as well, we would be moving in the right direction, not only in terms of family politics but also in terms of gender equality.
How do you and your husband juggle all the demands of work, raising kids and staying happily married?
Firstly we are so very lucky to both be working from home. Throughout the day we see each other regularly and are each other best advisors and confidants. This removes a lot of the stress that couples with small children often deal with. We are also both very laid back, share the same philosophies when it comes to raising our kids and even though we could always do with more date nights, we love spending time as a family.
What’s next for you as an interior designer? What are your hopes and goals?
As any designer out there, and any professional, I constantly strive to be better. I love running my own business and dealing with every aspect of the design process, and hope to be so fortunate to keep doing that for many years to come! Many people regard interior design as a superficial thing to spending money on, as it will only make your home ‘prettier’, like a facelift. But all too often a home is unorganized, the layout illogical, and the material things in your life seems to make chaos instead of order. I truly believe that in order to live harmoniously, your surroundings should add to and help with making your life easier, not harder, and thats were I come in, to make your home-life that much more uncomplicated, and pretty to boot!
Last questions! – what are your hopes and dreams for you and your kids?
My kids are always so happy, constantly bubbling over with laughter and joy, and that is one of many ways how I measure my, and their dads achievement. But I know this also comes down to all the good people in their life; daycare and school, and family and friends My hopes and dreams for 2016 is for them to keep being surrounded by all the wonderful people they have in their life, to grow emotionally and continue to be as deliriously happy as they are today!
Thank you very much for sharing your motherhood journey with us! Please follow her interior design business Schinterior Design here.