After about two and a half years in their Upper Arlington A-Frame, Raina and Erick Vretenar, along with their pit bull Vinnie, have put down roots. In plenty of pots, that is. The spacious and bright interior of their home is the perfect place for plenty of plants to flourish in the sunlight. On the second level, they maintain an Airbnb for the lucky traveler who wants a place to call their own, if only for a short stretch. The ICU nurse recently took a break from her school work on the road to becoming a nurse practitioner to answer a few questions about the look and feel of her West side abode.
You have so many houseplants! How much time do you spend on them each week? Most of them only get watered once a month. I have figured out over time that a lot of my plant problems were related to over watering. The ferns, on the other hand, I try to keep fairly moist. I usually water those once a week.
Do the plants add to the decor? What kind of challenges and advantages do they provide? The plants are the decor! They occasionally cause some challenges. I have dealt with gnats, which responded well to an organic, indoor spray. The next day there were thousands of dead tiny black bugs on the floor, but I vacuum frequently anyways so it was not a big deal. One of my cactuses had scales, which is another kind of bug issue. Again, I bought a spray-mist scale treatment, and drenched the thing twice and the issue was resolved. Overall, it hasn’t been a big deal, and feeling like I live in the Franklin Park Conservatory brings me so much joy that any extra amount of work is worth it to me! All of my plants come from my favorite store of all time, Oakland Park Nursery.
It looks as though you have a lot of vintage furniture. Where do you shop for these pieces? I get most of my vintage pieces at the Springfield Extravaganza. It happens three times a year, I always leave with lots of goodies! I occasionally hit up estate sales too. The main places I shop for furniture are all the different outlets (Pottery Barn/ West Elm in Jeffersonville, Arhaus in Hilliard , Frontgate in Dublin). As far as home decor, I do a lot of my shopping at Oakland Nursery, Home, and also love Trove.
How do you keep those windows clean? To be 100% honest I’ve lived in my home two-and-half years and I have never cleaned the windows! I like to tell myself that because they let in so much light it’s not all that noticeable.
Tell us a little about your design inspiration. We always like a good bargain/inheritance/acquisition. My paternal grandfather, Jim Hone, was an architect, builder and a big fan of Frank Lloyd Wright. From what I understand, Wright’s plan was to make his architecture fit seamlessly into the landscape around it and even bring these elements into the house, if possible. As a result, he designed and constructed his own family’s home keeping in mind this design style. He and my Grandmother loved plants too, so in the center of their home he built a large atrium filled with real plants that has a pond with a fountain and fish. This has been a main source of inspiration for me because their home brought me so much joy.
Tell us about the art on your walls. I have a couple of prints that were gifts from friends. I spotted the large vintage cardiopulmonary anatomical chart at the Springfield Extravaganza. Because I am an ICU nurse the piece struck me and it had to be mine!
You have so many interesting elements in your home. How do you display your collections without it looking cluttered? Although I love simple design styles, I am a “more is better” kind of decorator. As a result, I really struggle to keep a balance of interesting items without over-cluttering. My mom taught me the importance of having a variety of scale in your home as well as clustering items. That is another reason I have so many large plants, it makes the room feel more balanced because of the varying scale throughout the rooms.
Your look is eclectic. How do you keep it cohesive? I avoid spending too much money on trendier items. All of my furniture and rugs that I spent a considerable amount of money on were strategically selected because of their classic styles. For example, the oriental rug will essentially never go out of style, so I was willing to spend more on this item because I can have it for the rest of my life (it’s from the Arhaus Loft 50% off sale- shop smarter not harder!). It’s my opinion that it is easier to mesh lots of items together if the canvas for the room is a classic design. I also believe plants really tie a room together and make it feel like a personal sanctuary.